It’s a matter of speech, common courtesy, neat appearance and control over our emotions. However, it looks like some people – not only the new generations – think the days of good manners and politeness have all but gone.
Considering respect for the rules of etiquette is not something to be embarrassed about; it’s not a feature of old fashioned classy aesthetes who should be overlooked from real life, not even a glamorous look-a-like scene of a ‘Downton Abbey‘ episode. What people often forget that manners are not just a way of looking good but a chance to make people feel good. People may determine your value by them, in some instances and, by the way, you make them feel when they are in contact with you. Showing good manners in your speech, for example, reveals that you have respect for others as well as for yourself – and makes you much more enjoyable to be around.
I am not the Queen of manners, I have to say. My voice tends to be quite loud and I am usually a bit rough in the way I speak or carry myself. Probably that’s due to my job; journalists are always well known for being cut & dry. However growing older, socialising and travelling more, I’ve learned how important is to deliver the right message in the right way, especially when you speak in another language. In England, for instance, when you speak ‘please’ & ‘thank you’ are imperative, in Italy (the country where I come from) we have different ways to express appreciation: a smile worth more than one thousand words.
Anyway, however mannered you are I refuse to believe etiquette is something related to something old and dusted. It costs very little to be concerned with decency and it’s not a matter of age. How to pass a plate; not to shout from one room to another; not to open a closed door without knocking are all simple rules to make life better.
According to Philip Sykes, founder of The British School Of Etiquette: “The knowledge and practice of correct manners, etiquette and service will equip individuals with confidence, building skills that will help them achieve their dreams and ambitions and influence success in both their business, social and family lives“.
Some may argue that rules are made to be broken. I would rather say rules need to be updated from time to time. For instance, mobile phones didn’t exist in the past but still – as part of our new lifestyle- it’s a custom that needs to be regimented. I don’t know about you, but the way these devices are used these days is quite irritating especially when we are in public. I think we all should make an effort to not put our phones on the table when we are out for dinner. By doing so, we don’t respect people sitting next to us and show how important a role this device plays in our lives, how bored we are of what’s happening and that at any moment we’re ready to stop a face to face conversation.
On the other hand, amongst those things we are kindly invited to avoid mentioning in a conversation such as wealth, family quarrels, religion, politics, medical problems, there is something I’m not really convinced about. Something I think it needs to be updated in the book of etiquette. Maybe I’m wrong, but why we shouldn’t ask ladies about their age? Are there still women getting offended by that? Ageing is something we should be proud of. I always invite women to crunch their numbers, maybe play with them at bingo or lotto, and especially say their age loud.
Actually I can’t wait to blow 50 candles on my birthday cake.