Manners? Are they essential anymore? Yes, they are crucial. They aren’t just rigid social rules reserved for the privileged or the wealthy. Manners are more than just knowing not to slurp coffee from your saucer or not to blow your nose with your dinner napkin. In our modern world, chaos (think Opioid crisis) and violence (think First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs) besiege us from all aspects of life, so manners are a gentle way to create order and provide an opportunity to love your neighbor. We’ve allowed basic manners to erode from our everyday life. Certain manners, if revived, could bolster our kindness toward one another and propel us to love sacrificially.[bctt tweet=”Certain manners, if revived, could bolster our kindness toward one another and propel us to love sacrificially.” username=”DeniseSultenfus”]
The esteemed manners expert Letitia Baldrige’s claims that there is a clear demarcation between etiquette and manners. Etiquette, Baldridge defines “is protocol, rules of behavior that you memorize and that rarely bend to encompass individual concerns.” On the other hand, manners “are an expression of how you treat others when you care about them, their self-esteem, and their feelings. Manners are under your control because they come from your heart.”
The modern manners for the millennial will influence the way that you parent, entertain, educate, drive, shop, travel, and communicate. My husband and I parent a houseful of millennials, so this is a relevant issue that hits close to our heart. We don’t have all of these manners down to a science, but the list offers us a roadmap as we venture down the path of parenting.
Modern Manners for the Millennial
Stash the cell phone, especially on holidays, dinner time, non-work related meetings, and especially when visiting with grandparents. We all know that cell phones can interfere with our ability to attend to relationships. Okay, read carefully: no text or tweet, or snippet of video can ever trump the importance of the story that your aging, wise grandparent wants to tell you. If you are distracted by the buzz of your cell phone, then leave it in your car for the duration of a family meal. That act in itself will sharpen your self-control alone. People > technology.
We live in a casual culture, indeed. Not to worry, not even a remnant of Victorian social protocol hides in the cracks of our contemporary culture. We may have ditched the compulsively detailed Victorian social rules, but there is one rule that we should resurrect. Hats off!
The versatile baseball cap serves as an interminable unisex accessory. None other than the baseball cap can keep a lid on severe bed head while making a fashion statement. As much as I applaud the cap’s magical ways, consider not wearing a hat in the following situations:
- at the table (dining in or out)
- in a place of worship
- in a movie theater (the hat becomes an obstruction, not a fashion piece)
- when the National Anthem plays and when the American flag passes by (this is a hot item right now, but removing your cap is a gesture of respect)
Some may find that by succumbing to the removal of a hat somehow compromises the expression of personal principles or individuality. The idea behind employing manners is to shift from an attitude of entitlement to one of compassion and kindness toward others.
Of course, certain medical conditions exempt people from adhering to hat-iquette.
One of the best ways to show appreciation is to bring a small, inexpensive gift to your host/hostess. If you’ve done any entertaining, you know the mental and physical details involved in pulling a dinner party together. Therefore, the next time that you accept an invitation for dinner consider the effort your host/hostess will put forth to make the evening memorable.
A gift is NOT necessary, but it is a generous gesture of gratitude. Showing up at the door with a simple bouquet of flowers plucked from your yard communicates to your hostess that you appreciate the invitation she bestowed.
A few days after the gathering, pen a brief thank you. If you are scrambling for time, a thank you text is just as meaningful.
RSVP and Dietary Restrictions
RSVP does not mean respond so very poorly. RSVP is an acronym for the french phrase, Répondez s’il vous plaît, translated, “please reply.” If you receive an invitation to a gathering, regardless of whether it is a written or verbal invite, make sure you respond. Make every effort to let your hostess know, “bummer, I can’t make it to the party” or “Fist bump (emoji), I am in on the fun.” However, you decide to respond to the invitation, do it promptly.
If you have any dietary restrictions, humbly mention them to the hostess in your response. To save your hostess from scouring the Food Network archives for a recipe that follows your food restrictions, offer to bring a dietary compliant dish and include the recipe.
Be a Conversationalist Hero
Baldridge reminds us that ” to be a good conversationalist is to be unselfish—as well as constantly learning…an attitude of caring about other people—getting away from oneself and thinking of others.” That is why narcissists make horrible conversationalist because they make themselves the bullseye of every conversation.
Qualities of a Conversationalist Hero:
- Learn to listen attentively to people, not an easy task if you try to multi-task or conduct business on your phone while in the middle of a conversation.
- Interrupt the person who is speaking if, and only if, someone’s hand is severed and everyone at the party needs to help find the missing appendage. Even if you are bubbling over with enthusiasm about the topic of conversation, NEVER INTERRUPT! Teach your children not to interrupt so they will grow up to be adults who do not interrupt.
- Exercise a self-deprecating sense of humor…laugh at yourself without going too far in self-criticism.
- Diffuse gossip and inappropriate subject matter with diplomacy and aplomb
- Ping Pong the conversation (think of a head-swiveling ping pong game that continues back and forth, back and forth)
- Vary the subject matter even if the topic is not in your realm of knowledge. Participating in conversations on various topics is an exercise is being an active listener and a cordial learner.
For too long, we’ve allowed basic manners to slip away from our everyday life. Manners drive us to place others before ourselves. Perhaps merely implementing just one of the five manners would inspire you to be the kind of person who performs random acts of kindness.
Modern Manners from the heart may:
- Help you to be the only person in the room who is not checking social media. Instead, you are fully engaged in a conversation with a lonely, elderly guest or encourages someone to share their brokenness with you.
- Motivate you to take off your hat in the movie theater because you realized your cap obstructed the view of the little girl sitting behind you.
- Cause you to not only respond to invitations but urges you to host a gathering for single moms.
And Consider that:
- Communicating your special dietary needs to your hostess arouses you to make a special dinner for a friend who has cancer or a tired, pregnant mom
- Building brawny conversation skills embolden you to sprint across the sanctuary and start a conversation with someone who doesn’t look like you, dress like you, smell like you, or talk the same as you
I’d love to hear what manners you would add to the list. Why are manners eroding from our culture?
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