Decorum is tricky. It’s often categorized as a snobbish set of skills for those that travel in circles of pomp and grandeur. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Most people carry the assumption that etiquette is frivolous, old worldly, solely pertaining to dining, unnecessary, archaic, confusing and frightfully intimidating.
I’m going to dispel those myths immediately and sum it up to: good manners are your way of being considerate to those around you. That’s all it is, light and simple. Many individuals view etiquette as something they put on when they go out, like a pretty dress or a sharp suit. Quite the contrary, who you are at home, is whom you are outside. Your finest manners begin with using them on yourself until they are incorporated into your way of being. It’s habitual, just like brushing your teeth. One can hope.
You may have the finest garments, manicured nails, (always short) coveted bag or a bespoke suit and arrive at your destination in a chauffer driven Maybach, but if your manners are horrid you’ll go from beautiful to ugly in zero to sixty. The thing is, everyone thinks that they’re polished in the manners department when they really aren’t. Ignorance is not bliss in the case of decorum. It’s not going to shatter your ego to ask for guidance; actually you shouldn’t have an ego in the first place.
It’s not necessary that attending a prestigious school or coming from a background of immense wealth automatically will give you a good set of social graces. I’ve seen abhorrent decorum from people who have been well educated, well-bred, are of a higher income bracket and have titles. Oh they’re fully aware of the skill set that they’re presented with but, sadly, quite a few of these individuals don’t make the effort to learn and use them. They feel that their wealthy backgrounds or fine education are a substitute for lack of decorum. I call this entitlement. Yuck. Think of it this way, if you’re at a restaurant and are given a fork and knife to have your meal but choose to eat with your hands, it’s no ones fault but your own if you don’t have a lot of people to dine with. Aren’t others in your company deserving of being treated with respect and courtesy?
It just boils down to how considerate and aware you are of your surroundings and if you’re willing to upgrade yourself to a model that’s the best possible version of you. Apple does it all the time with the Iphone, so why can’t we? I’ve written more about this topic on the blogs in this section, have a read so that I don’t sound redundant.
People that possess a good set of manners, and trust me it’s a rarity in a technologically dominant world, will know when you’re being disingenuous. You’ve got to emanate decorum from the inside, that’s what it means to truly embrace etiquette.
The reason I’ve created this section on the blog is because I get asked many questions on etiquette from my readers. My nickname amongst my peers is Little Miss Manners because I’ve always, always had an affinity for proper decorum. I teach it from time to time and work one on one with individuals.
Here are some of the appalling things I’ve heard too often:
Why would I need to know that? I’m not moving around with royalty?
Those kind of fancy manners aren’t for me; I always put my best foot forward when I’m out, that should be enough.
I know how to eat when I’m out; I do what I want at home.
I know the basics, I don’t really care about the extra stuff, I mean when am I going to use all that?
I’m not classy or rich. I don’t need to know this.
This being proper business is too silly for me, I don’t have time.
Sigh…To me, this just sounds like a barrier to learn and grow when all of us should keep on doing that in every aspect of our lives, not just the ones that we’re comfortable with. We all know that certain social situations will demand good manners but when you go home it’s not ok to turn back into a Neanderthal again. For the love of god, please don’t do that. It’s unbecoming to have bipolarities in the decorum department. Amalgamate the respect and courtesy that you own and radiate that towards others.
If it’s of any consolation, I’ve made a blunder or two on occasion. For example, I made a faux pas with the correct form of address to a couple on my recent Christmas cards. I’m quite sure I penned something juvenile because my mind was on something else and I forgot to double-check the envelope. I don’t torture myself about that sort of oversight, mistakes happen and I do know better now. Everyone can learn to ameliorate themselves and if you don’t know how, just ask me. I don’t judge. I just help.
If you have any questions for me, please fill out the information in the contact form here and I’ll do my very best to answer them on the blog.
Xoxo, Little Miss Manners