Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Etiquette is More Than Just Manners

Etiquette beyond this field, is now concerned with inanimate objects and ways of handling them -- silver, glass, writing paper, and many more. 
Etiquette is an important subject because it is concerned with human beings and their relations to one another. It is a system for the complex business of living in a community. Like life and people, it is full of paradoxes. Etiquette is based on tradition, and yet it can change. Its ramifications are trivialities, but its roots are in great principles. It is part of the web of customs, beliefs, laws, and morals which sustains and restrains every society of men.

When we apply this definition to our daily life, we can understand the changes etiquette has undergone. The origin of the word 'etiquette' was supposedly the 'ticket' of entrance to court ceremonies in France, on which rules of court behavior were written; and for us, the primary point of etiquette is still human relations. But now almost every degree of relationship is included in its scope. Reaching out beyond this field, it is now concerned with inanimate objects and ways of handling them -- silver, glass, writing paper, and many more. It prescribes the procedure of family events such as weddings and christenings and in minute detail it covers the smallest technicalities, such as how to address a letter or eat an artichoke.

Etiquette is a big subject, but it's no secret. And this is significant of the revolutionary change in its character. In the last 20 years, particularly in America, etiquette has become less arbitrary and more democratic, because it has discarded the old source of its authority and taken up a new one. The old sanction for its rules was, 'The inner circle (or the 'best' people) behave this way.' Its new standards of behavior are based on what millions of people have accepted as right or wrong. There's no longer any question of admission 'by ticket only.' It's a forum for citizens, open to anyone who cares about the amenities of living. Good behavior is everybody's business, and good taste can be everyone's goal.

The simplest proof of this change are its casualty list. Pretentiousness, which was once considered quite understandable, is now laughable if not pathetic. Condescension has disappeared. And 'noblesse oblige,' which might have been translated, 'Aristocrats acknowledge the responsibilities of privilege,' now reads, 'Citizens admit the responsibilities of freedom.' These are the general outlines of the change.

From 1948's
Vogue's Book of Etiquette:

A Complete Guide to Traditional Forms and Modern Usage by Millicent Fenwick, Associate Editor of Vogue

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Etiquette on the Road

Don't be an animal behind the wheel. ~ "You will see the timid man, or woman, grow bullying and bellicose behind the wheel. You will note the neighbor's fender scraped as your man pulls heedlessly out of the parking spot, the pedestrian narrowly missed and roundly cursed although he has the right of way." Amy Vanderbilt
"If you are really observant, you can learn more about a person's poise, considerateness (or lack of it), probity, and judgment by riding with him at the wheel of his car than you can by studying him long hours in his living room. You will see the timid man, or woman, grow bullying and bellicose behind the wheel. Your will note the neighbor's fender scraped as your man pulls heedlessly out of the parking spot, the pedestrian narrowly missed and roundly cursed although he has the right of way. You will experience the senseless weaving in and out of traffic with the many near accidents it causes.

The established rules of driving are for the protection of other drivers and the non-driving public, but they are also related to good manners. If you do scrape someone else's fender in leaving a parking space, you should, as a well-mannered person, leave your car and arrange to make good the damage, even if the law didn't held you responsible under the circumstances.

Most careful people carry liability and property damage even in states where it is not actually required, but most insurance doesn't cover such slight property damage as is occasioned by the scraping of a fender. The owner of the car must pay for that himself. You who inflicted the damage may find your own insurance will cover even such minor damage to someone else's car, but even if it doesn't, you should make yourself responsible.

If no one is in the other car, leave a card or note with your name and address so that matters may be arranged between you. In some states any damage over a certain amount to another car or to your own even, in the latter case, if you inflicted it yourself must be reported to police. Elsewhere, adjustments of this kind are a matter of good manners." — Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Book of Etiquette
Once on the road it is your responsibility to be alert to every circumstance that may affect your driving so that you will not endanger, or even inconvenience others.

Keep to the Right

"Courtesy, Safety, Legality ~ These are the triplets of driving, so nearly identical, as to make them often indistinguishable. As it is rude to push violently through a crowd of people, so is it also in a car to weave in and out of traffic carelessly. It is also unsafe and illegal. As you do not (if you are courteous) hurry on the street in order to push in front of another approaching at right angles, a courteous and safe driver does not attempt to beat another car across the road or street intersection. If he is discourteous enough to do so he may be the cause of a serious accident, and whether he is or not he may receive a ticket for traffic law violation. So it is with many of the rules of the road. The rules of courtesy, the legal code, and the rules of safety are, more often than not, the same. The measure of a good driver is the extent to which he observes all three.

On Being Alert

Once on the road it is your responsibility to be alert to every circumstance that may affect your driving so that you will not endanger, or even inconvenience others. You must be constantly aware of everything ahead of you and even on each side of the road or street, as far as you can see, and ready to anticipate any movement that may affect your driving -- other cars, pedestrians, children, dogs and other animals -- and of the physical facts connected with the road or street itself -- sharp turns, dips, bumps, obstructions, or slippery spots on the pavement." Eleanor Roosevelt's Common Sense Book of Etiquette

From "Situations That May Spark Road Rage"

"The first step in avoiding road rage is, knowing which situations are most likely to provoke anger. Using logic and experience, I know that the following factors all increase road-rage substantially. 

Pardon any redundancies:
-Hot weather
-Slow or backed up traffic
-Any and all construction zones
-Waiting with no end in sight (a crowded post-event parking lot that doesn’t appear to be emptying) 

-Being forced to stop at a location that is usually clear (active construction zones)
-Being forced to drive slowly for no apparent reason (a construction zone where no workers are present). 

-Drivers talking on cell phones.

Any police officer will tell you that there exists a direct correlation between hot weather and bad stuff happening. Domestic abuse, gang activity, and assaults all spike in the heat. Besides, nobody likes roasting inside a hot car while the sun beats down.

If you are stuck in a traffic jam or bumper-to-bumper situation during record-breaking heat days, be extra alert for road-rage, and be extra cautious and extra reserved in your actions. Communicate with the drivers around you (we’ll talk about this in a moment) before every action. Be extra weary of people whose windows are down, as they most likely do not have working air-conditioners, and will therefore be most affected (and aggravated) by being forced to wait in the heat.

Also be weary of older, rougher-looking cars that may be prone to engine over-heating. While a healthy car can idle in 100-degree weather all day without overheating, cars with poorly maintained cooling systems depend strongly on airflow to cool their engines. If someone is driving a poorly maintained junker, it’s probably because he can’t afford a nicer car, and he probably depends strongly on the vehicle.

Even the most patient man’s patience can be tested during a construction-related delay. Be extra vigilant in these situations. A smart man in the pictured situation would ensure that he is in the far right-hand lane- which would allow for an escape.

And, it would be incredibly irritating (to say the least), if ‘a stupid construction worker holding a freaking stop sign’ “caused” his car to overheat and break down. Keep your windows up, your air conditioner pumping, and stay alert.

Traffic Backups

You don’t have to have a bad temper to understand how frustrating it is to be in a hurry for an appointment (or work, or whatever) only to run into heavy traffic. At that point, even sensible people get frustrated.

As with hot-weather, be extra reserved of even the most simple traffic maneuver- such as changing lanes. If someone is leaving space in front of their car, unless they are signaling for you to merge into it, you should assume that the space is sacred to them. And, even though they don’t ‘own’ the road, merging into their sacred, personal space can be considered a violation of their space- a big no-no. Therefore, communicate, communicate, and communicate. (We’ll talk about communication shortly).

Assume nothing, and especially if you are entering the roadway, do so as if you are a guest, and the drivers already there are the owners. Adopting this mindset will change your approach on so many levels, and you will be shocked at how much more pleasant of an experience you will have.

Construction Zones

The rules of hot weather and especially traffic backups obviously apply to construction zones, but an important fact to recognize is that a construction zone is a much more frustrating kind of backup than say, a traffic accident.

The frustration of having to wait so that ‘your tax money can be dumped into a stupid road’ is compounded by the unsympathetic faces of the construction workers. Even though the ‘rage’ may be created by the construction zones and personnel, the slightest infringement may have all this anger directed at you- so proceed with caution and be on high alert for rage in construction zones.

Waiting, Without Apparent Reason

Logically, delays are infinitely more tolerable if the person waiting can see a justifiable reason before him as to why he is being forced to wait. For example, nobody honks their horn when they are 30 yards from a three-car pileup that is covering both lanes of freeway traffic, as police and medical personnel rush to treat victims. In fact, I’d dare say most people would forget about whatever it was that they were in a hurry for, and rush to the aid of the responders.

The other side of this coin is that people are infinitely less tolerable of delays if they see no apparent reason for the delay. For example, the guy at the front of the line mentioned above would wait all day with patience, while a guy stuck between two semi-trucks a mile back will have a much lower threshold of agitation.

Still, even a sensible person knows that IF traffic is not moving, THEN there is a reason- and probably a GOOD reason at that. For some people though, and especially those who “suffer from” (read: 'choose to have') road-rage, unless they can see why they are waiting, there is NO good reason, and their anger grows and grows.

Exhibit A....

A friend of mine has very little patience. I was unlucky enough to be riding with him when we came upon a construction zone, where one lane had been closed, and traffic was being directed through the single open lane. In a simple two- lane road, we would only have had to wait while the oncoming traffic cleared before it would have been our turn to go. 
But in this case, the road being worked on went through the middle of a large town, which made the way traffic was being directed appear illogical, and we had to wait for maybe 15 minutes. A group of cars would pass, and then there would be a full minute of nothing, all while the flagger in front of us looked bored holding a walkie-talkie in one hand, and a “STOP” sign in the other. 
This in-action caused great frustration on the part of the guy I was riding with, but it was a great learning experience for my level-headed self. After the first couple minutes of waiting, where no cars appeared to be coming, the driver merely grumbled to himself and threw his car into park and killed the engine. Then came the first wave of cars, where he said “finally!”, started the car, put it back into gear, and waited. The cars cleared, but still the flagger held fast. 
After 30 seconds of this, the driver yelled out his open window, “What’s the hold up!?”. The construction worker (the poor guy) obviously became instantly worried, and I could tell he didn’t deal with too many irate people. The driver (who was second in line), acted like he was going to just start driving anyway, and pulled halfway around the car in front of him. 
Just as I was about to intervene with a “Dude, chill out!”, he thought better of running the stop- sign and stopped pulling forward, leaving us awkwardly sideways (there were a couple dozen people behind us). He then tapped on his horn a few times, and out of pure embarrassment, I began trying to think of something to say that wouldn’t set this guy off.  
Luckily for me, he turned to me with an agitated look and said “doesn’t this s--- just piss you off??”. “Honestly? No, it doesn’t.” I said. “What?! Why not?” It was as if he had just thought I didn’t understand the tragedy of the situation- of having to wait for 15 minutes during an overall hour drive home. “Well, for one thing, we’re not in that big of a hurry,” (we had just returned from fishing), “but everyone else is waiting too, and besides- if they are telling us to stop, there must be a good reason.” 
Obviously, my argument was dead on, and even though the realization that I was looking down at him made the driver calm down a lot, he was still very angry by the time we were able to go, and insisted on making direct eye contact with every construction worker that we passed. I happen to know this person well enough to know that had any of them met his stare in a “what??” fashion, he would have stopped the car and tried to pick a fight. Needless to say, that was the last time I rode with him.

Being Forced to Drive Slowly

To the person prone to ‘road rage’, having to drive slowly is only slightly less angering than having to wait at a stand-still. In fact, in the case of the “slow driver”, it may be worse- because at least with the traffic backup, there is usually no specific person to take ones anger out on.

Having to follow a slow driver isn’t an issue unless the opportunity to pass is not present. If there is a bottle-neck, and the person behind you appears to be agitated at the speed that you are travelling, you might want to consider just speeding up. While you have the right to drive any speed you want (within the law), you also have the duty to not do things that may provoke an attack. Again- YOU are right, and HE is wrong. HE is being a big jerk. But... you are the more reasonable person here, and it’s your duty to take command of the situation.

In this situation, do what you can to simply blend in with the flow of the traffic. If given the opportunity, let them go by you! It may even mean as much as pulling over. It’s definitely not a dignified thing to do, but it sure beats getting into a fist-fight, or much worse.

Being on Your Cell Phone

I can honestly say that I am almost exactly as competent (in good weather) while ON my cell phone as I am while off. I’m not bragging, because I truly think most people are- most armed citizens, anyway, which includes you. It’s just that I’ve had a lot of practice, and I have good judgment. If talking on my cell phone made me inattentive, or if the conversation is too demanding, I simply hang up.
Still, if you commit a ‘driving sin’ (respective to the angry person) while on your phone, you will cause much more anger in him than had you done the same thing while off your cell phone. This is largely due to the fact that there’s a stigma that drivers who talk on their cell phones are bad drivers, who don’t pay attention. It’s obviously better to be able to focus 100% of your attention to driving, but if you must talk on your cell phone, be extra attentive to the drivers around you.

Being forced to drive slowly- behind a slow-moving vehicle, for example- can bring the worst out of people who 'suffer from' (read: 'choose to have') road rage."

From "Stayin' Alive Behind the Wheel," by Patrick Kilchermann

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Moderator for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Who Did Marie Antoinette Call "Madame Etiquette" at Versailles?

Anne d'Arpajon, aka "Madame Etiquette" ~A French aristocrat and first lady of honour to Queens of France, Marie Leszczyńska and Marie Antoinette, Anne d'Arpajon was called"Madame Etiquette" by Marie Antoinette for her insistence that no minutia of court etiquette ever be disregarded or altered in any way.

Madame de Campan, first lady-in-waiting to Marie Antoinette, wrote of the Versailles' etiquette rules: 
"These servile rules were drawn up into a kind of code; they offered to a Richelieu, a La Rouchefoucauld and a Duras, in the exercise of their domestic functions, opportunities of intimacy useful to their interests; and their vanity was flattered by the customs which converted the right to give a glass of water, to put on a dress, and to remove a basin, into honorable prerogatives."              
Actress Judy Davis, standing behind Kirsten Dunst's Marie Antoinette, portrayed Anne d'Arpajon, aka"Madame Etiquette," in the 2008 film, "Marie Antoinette" ~ "To enact their existence, to demonstrate their prestige, to distance themselves from lower-ranking people and have this distance recognized by the higher-ranking -- all this was purpose enough in itself. But in etiquette this distancing of oneself from others as an end in itself  finds its consummate expression." From Norbert Elias, 1983 "The Court Society"

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Retro 1963 Etiquette Advice for Women

How to Sweeten Your Personality
Sugar sweetens the tempers of those around us and makes the most ordinary event or encounter seem very special. Spice is important too, because it keeps sugar from being too bland.

Each of us now and then needs to take stock of her special feminine attributes and make sure she is including enough "sugar and spice and all things nice." Sugar sweetens the tempers of those around us and makes the most ordinary event or encounter seem very special. Spice is important too, because it keeps sugar from being too bland. In my work "sweetening" and "flavoring" the personality receive careful attention.

Do you smooth your way with magic words?

Explore, if you already haven't, the sweet use of pet names. A pet name makes another person feel he or she has a special place in your life and thoughts. A pet name (and this goes for general ones such as "honey" and "darling") should be spoken only with sweetness and good feeling. When you are out of patience with the one you love and can't keep the snap out of your voice, address the person by name.

"Please," "Thank you," "I am sorry," "You have been most helpful," "Please forgive me" -- such magic words sweeten every encounter when spoken with warmth and sincerity. Failure to say such things at the right time results in ruffled tempers and strained relationships. Use these magic words consistently with your family, friends, and everyone you meet.

Intimacy should never be used as an excuse to be careless with little courtesies. And take note that "to turn a pretty phrase" is considered a priceless social asset. It is not, for example, incorrect to say, "You are welcome," when you are thanked, but there are more gracious expressions: "I was delighted to do it," or, "It was my pleasure," if you have done an errand for someone. Or, after being thanked for a present: "I am so glad you were pleased." If a stranger thanks you for something such as information, nod and smile.

Can you compliment others sincerely?
A pet name makes another person feel he or she has a special place in your life and thoughts.

Flattery is defined as "excessive and insincere praise." A compliment is based on the truth, but one may exaggerate to create a light touch. It is unkind and patronizing to give false praise; you would compliment a plain woman upon her charm, not upon her beauty. Your friends' warm personality, consideration, humor, aptitudes, and understanding are all worthy of recognition. You can say: "You are more fun than anyone I know." Or "You walk so gracefully." In complimenting, avoid "left-handed" remarks. Say "Oh, what a becoming hairstyle!" Not: "You've changed your hair." Or: "Your hair looks so much better since you've had it cut." A compliment ceases to be a compliment if it suggests any criticism.

From "Social Awareness ~Your guide to today's manners"
By Luella Cuming for Family Circle Publications, 1963

Monday, September 22, 2014

Retro Etiquette for Teen Girls of 1957

Watch Your Hostess and don't be disturbed if you are faced with a row of silver.

Most of these rules of table etiquette you will know, but if you are going out to a meal and want to be sure to do the right thing, it might be well to review them. 

Remain Standing until your hostess and the other people are seated. If there are no man in the party, help to see the older members in their chairs.

Start to Eat when your hostess does.

Watch Your Hostess and don't be disturbed if you are faced with a row of silver. If you question which piece to use, do as she does. The rule, however, is to use the silver in order -- from the outside, working in.

Ask for things to be passed instead of reaching across the table or in front of other guests.

Eat Quietly, take small mouthfuls and be careful not to sip noisily. Do not talk with your mouth full. It is also very rude to mash your food or stir it conspicuously.

At a Crowded Table be considerate of your neighbors and keep your elbows out of their way.

When You Have Finished Eating you should leave the silver in this order:

The Bullion or Soup Spoon: should be left on the plate, not in the cup or bowl.

Fruit Cup Spoons: should never be left in the glass cup, but on the plate.

The Butter Knife: across the middle of the butter plate.

The Salad Fork: across the salad plate.

The Dinner Knife and Fork: parallel together across the plate.

The Dessert Spoon: on the plate, not in the sherbet glass.

The Coffee Spoon: in the saucer, never in the cup.

Your Napkin: need not be folded if you are a guest for only one meal. But at home, do fold it neatly and leave it at your place.

Emily R. Dow's 1957 "Brooms, Buttons and Beaux"

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Etiquette and Protocol in Government Circles

Eleanor Roosevelt

On the Question of Rank

The question of rank and precedence has always been a touchy one in government circles, yet these apparently ridiculous or archaic rules agreed upon among the nations have a strong practical reason for their existence. In 1661 a sword battle in London between the attendants of the French and Spanish ambassadors, over whose carriage should precede the other's, brought France and Spain dangerously close to war. In 1756 a violent quarrel between the French and Russian ambassadors at a ball in London over precedence led to a duel and a serious threat of war between Russia and France. A slight to an ambassador is not a personal affront, it is an insult to his nation.
"Monday 30 September 1661 ~ This morning up by moon-shine, at 5 o’clock, to White Hall, to meet Mr. Moore at the Privy Seal, but he not being come as appointed, I went into King Street to the Red Lyon to drink my morning draft, and there I heard of a fray between the two Embassadors of Spain and France; and that, this day, being the day of the entrance of an Embassador from Sweden, they intended to fight for the precedence!" From the famous diary of Samuel Pepys
Even in the Democratic United States of America, where rank is of less importance than it is in Europe, many famous quarrels over precedence have occurred in Washington. During the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt, when Miss Helen Cannon, daughter of "Uncle Joe" Cannon, a widower and Speaker of the House, demanded precedence over the wives of Senators and Representatives and was overruled, she announced that she would send regrets to further invitations to the White House if she were not given at least equal status with the wives of the members of Congress. During the Hoover administration Dolly Mann, sister and hostess of Vice-President Curtis, created a long-drawn-out controversy by her demand that she be given precedence over Alice Roosevelt Longworth, wife of speaker Nicholas Longworth. Admiral of the Navy George Dewey precipitated a similar commotion when he demanded (in vain) that he be given precedence over foreign ministers because he rated a salute of seventeen guns as compared to only fifteen for the foreign ministers.
The Bryan Times called Miss Helen Cannon, daughter of then widower and U.S. Speaker of the House, "One of the First Ladies of Official Society at National Capital" and referred to her as a "Famous Housekeeper"
Some of these controversies have brought about modifications in the orders of precedence; others have left them unchanged. Sometimes other factors have brought about modifications. The intent has always been to arrange the order of precedence in such a way as to indicate properly the degree of vested authority represented.

From Eleanor Roosevelt's 1962, "Common Sense Book of Etiquette"

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Etiquette, Diplomacy and a Tap on the Head

Jean-Claude Juncker - "I’m a hands-on kind of president…" voted against him.

Did EC president Juncker break protocol by tapping Muscat’s head?

He is the President of the European Commission so he will touch your head if he wants to...

When does a friendly head-tap go just too far? Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat doesn’t seem to mind: at least he takes Jean Claude Juncker’s patronising tap on his forehead – being of dimensions, ample – like a good sport. Chin up. Get on with it. The Luxembourgish fool has probably had the cognac added in his omelette this morning.

What do you think? Do you think that Juncker, the former prime minister who resigned over his country’s secret service’s illegal wiretapping, is ‘avin a laff’? Perhaps putting the whippersnapper in place? Or is he being simply nice – you can hear him greet Muscat as ‘young man’ after all, which he is in the world of European politics, and then proceeding to tap his head as one would…

There is a precedent to the Muscat head-tap: Juncker’s fascination with the depilated cranium was in full view when he startled a studious-looking Silvio Berlusconi by giving him a couple of Benny Hill head-taps.

We asked an expert in diplomatic protocol, and a former career diplomat, Kris Bonnici, to tell us what he thinks of Juncker’s pate-pat and whether Monsieur le President was being a little bit too osé or perhaps showing us who's boss at the Berlaymont.

“Is head-tapping allowed according to protocol and etiquette in the first place? Recent research shows that non verbal communication is four times as powerful as words. That’s because our brain is still programmed to think like that of our prehistoric ancestors. When we encounter someone new, whether in a sophisticated office or a glamorous reception, if it is initially upsetting, it will trigger our flight or fight response.”

Bonnici says protocol, now dating thousands of years since the court of Pharoah Amenhotep III, has not always been followed. “When Rollo the Viking was given Normandy he was required to pledge allegiance to Charles, King of France, in a ceremony where Rollo kisses the king’s foot in a symbolic gesture of feudal allegiance.

“Instead, Rollo sent one of his warriors to do the honours, who lifted the king’s foot so high that the king fell to the ground. The non verbal gesture here can be interpreted easily: the Vikings were barbaric, the French were weak.”

But Bonnici is adamant that the prime-ministerial noggin is out of bounds from unwanted fingering, and that means that Juncker’s caress was unwelcome – especially in full view of the TV cameras.

“Regardless of what message Jean-Claude Juncker wanted to convey, or whatever crossed his mind, Prime Ministers cannot be tapped on the head. “Such a breach of protocol is not in the European Commission’s interest (which has used great tact to reach consensus in the past), nor that of an EU member state’s,” Bonnici says, who adds that other countries have great respect for Europe’s protocol and etiquette.

“It’s at the basis of the soft power it is cashing upon: relations with other governments, businesses especially Europe’s fashion industry, arts, cuisine, and luxury car exports, and also the perception of Europeans in general. So please, no head-tapping.”

Kris Bonnici: Making a good impression is important. "An article on Forbes listed seven non-verbal ways to strike a first impression in the first seven seconds of an encounter. I thought it was worth noting and explaining them."
  1. Attitude adjustment: You have to settle in a positive state of mind and feeling.
  2. Poise your posture: Watch a film and see how a proud (not arrogant) person carries himself. Head straight, shoulders back, standing tall, it is a given that this person conveys competence and confidence.
  3. Smile: Perhaps the most powerful element in establishing a friendship. Employ it and like everything else, do so genuinely.
  4. Eye contact: people who are interested in you will look you in the eye. It is a sign of honesty and openness. Make it a point to remember the eye colour of the people you meet. It will also help you remember their names.
  5. ‘Eyebrow flash’: raise your eyebrows to acknowledge the other person. This gesture cuts across culture as a symbol of recognition.
  6. Shake hands properly: because studies show it is the equivalent of three hours interaction, which you can achieve in a heartbeat. And time is money.
  7. Lean forward: even if only slightly it will show that you are interested and engaged. Just remember not to trespass the other person’s personal space.

This article was written by Matthew Vella, 14 September 2014, for Malta Today

Submitted by contributor Kristian Bonnici- Before founding Diplomatic Envoy Consultancy, Kris was a career diplomat. He worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malta, in the Protocol and Consular Services Department, and then spent tours of duty in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. Serving as Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy in Cairo and Canberra, his diplomatic duties included protocol and etiquette and public diplomacy. Kris speaks English, Italian and Maltese fluently, and has a fair knowledge of French, Arabic and Russian. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Etiquette and Fortunes Made from Good Manners

British statesman, Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield (1694-1733). 


Pleasing manners have made the fortunes of men in all professions and in every walk of life—of lawyers, doctors, clergymen, merchants, clerks and mechanics—and instances of this are so numerous that they may be recalled by almost any person. The politician who has the advantage of a courteous, graceful and pleasing manner finds himself an easy winner in the race with rival candidates, for every voter with whom he speaks becomes instantly his friend. 
Civility is to a man what beauty is to a woman. It creates an instantaneous impression in his behalf, while gruffness or coarseness excites as quick a prejudice against him. It is an ornament, worth more as a means of winning favor than the finest clothes and jewels ever worn. 
Lord Chesterfield said the art of pleasing is, in truth, the art of rising, of distinguishing one's self, of making a figure and a fortune in the world. Some years ago a drygoods salesman in a London shop had acquired such a reputation for courtesy and exhaustless patience, that it was said to be impossible to provoke from him any expression of irritability, or the smallest symptom of vexation. 
A lady of rank learning of his wonderful equanimity, determined to put it to the test by all the annoyances with which a veteran shop-visitor knows how to tease a shopman. She failed in her attempt to vex or irritate him, and thereupon set him up in business. He rose to eminence in trade, and the main spring of his later, as of his earlier career, was politeness. Hundreds of men, like this salesman, have owed their start in life wholly to their pleasing address and manners.   


The cultivation of pleasing, affable manners should be an important part of the education of every person of whatever calling or station in life. Many people think that if they have only the substance, the form is of little consequence. But manners are a compound of spirit and form—spirit acted into form. 
The first law of good manners, which epitomizes all the rest is, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." True courtesy is simply the application of this golden rule to all our social conduct, or, as it has been happily defined, "real kindness, kindly expressed." It may be met in the hut of the Arab, in the courtyard of the Turk, in the hovel of the freedman, and the cottage of the Irishman. 
Even Christian men sometimes fail in courtesy, deeming it a mark of weakness, or neglecting it from mere thoughtlessness. Yet when we find this added to the other virtues of the Christian, it will be noted that his influence for good upon others has been powerfully increased, for it was by this that he obtained access to the hearts of others. An old English writer said reverently of our Saviour: "He was the first true gentleman that ever lived." The influence of many good men would be more than doubled if they could manage to be less stiff and more elastic. 
Gentleness in society, it has been truly said, "is like the silent influence of light which gives color to all nature; it is far more powerful than loudness or force, and far more fruitful. It pushes its way silently and persistently like the tiniest daffodil in spring, which raises the clod and thrusts it aside by the simple persistence of growing."                     
Sir Philip Sidney (1554 –1586) was an English poet, courtier, and soldier. He is remembered today, as one of the most prominent figures of the Elizabethan Age. 


Politeness is kindness of manner. This is the outgrowth of kindness of heart, of nobleness, and of courage. But in some persons we find an abundance of courage, nobleness and kindness of heart, without kindness of manner, and we can only think and speak of them as not only impolite, but even rude and gruff. 
Such a man was Dr. Johnson, whose rudeness secured for him the nickname of Ursa Major, and of whom Goldsmith truthfully remarked, "No man alive has a more tender heart; he has nothing of the bear about him but his skin." To acquire that ease and grace of manners which is possessed by and which distinguishes every well-bred person, one must think of others rather than of himself, and study to please them even at his own inconvenience. 
"Do unto others as you would that others should do unto you"—the golden rule of life—is also the law of politeness, and such politeness implies self-sacrifice, many struggles and conflicts. It is an art and tact, rather than an instinct and inspiration. 
An eminent divine has said: "A noble and attractive every-day bearing comes of goodness, of sincerity, of refinement. And these are bred in years, not moments. The principle that rules our life is the sure posture-master. Sir Philip Sidney was the pattern to all England of a perfect gentleman; but then he was the hero that, on the field of Zutphen, pushed away the cup of cold water from his own fevered and parched lips, and held it out to the dying soldier at his side." A Christian by the very conditions of his creed, and the obligations of his faith is, of necessity, in mind and soul—and therefore in word and act—a gentleman, but a man may be polite without being a Christian.

From John H. Young's 1879, “Our Deportment / Or the Manners, Conduct and Dress of the Most Refined Society.”

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Regency Era and Victorian Era Etiquette of French Brides and Grooms

Victorian inspired, white gowns, were still popular in Paris, even after WWI ~ "Presents are usually the preliminaries of a marriage: those which the gentleman makes his intended wife, are called wedding presents; they consist of different articles of the toilette, a set of diamonds, etc... Some persons content themselves with sending a purse containing a sum of money in gold, for the purchase of these things: the young lady then spends it as she thinks proper."
A young man who solicits a lady in marriage, should be extremely devoted and respectful; he should appear a stranger to all the details of business which the two families discuss; he converses with his intended particularly of their future arrangements, her tastes, the selection of a residence, furniture, bridal presents, etc... Avoiding all misplaced familiarity, he calls her "Miss" until returning from church, on the day of marriage; he accompanies her in all assemblies, and shows himself a devoted suitor.

When the banns of matrimony have been published, it is customary at Paris for a bouquet-maker to come to adorn the bride, presenting her with a bouquet. This attention requires a remuneration.

The marriage is declared in two ways. We invite three or four days beforehand persons of our acquaintance to assist in the nuptial benediction, and we specify precisely the time and place where the ceremony will be performed. As to the legal act, which is performed by civil authority, we invite only witnesses and near relations.

If a person is invited to assist at the repast or fête which follows the marriage, we make express mention of it at the bottom of the letters of invitation.

We simply communicate the fact of the marriage to those who have been invited neither to the nuptial ceremony, nor to the entertainment. Propriety requires that the person invited to the marriage ceremony should come, or send an excuse if it is impossible to be present. A simple letter of announcement to uninvited persons, requires only a visit or two; the first of which is made by card.

Presents are usually the preliminaries of a marriage: those which the gentleman makes his intended wife, are called wedding presents; they consist of different articles of the toilette, a set of diamonds, etc... Some persons content themselves with sending a purse containing a sum of money in gold, for the purchase of these things: the young lady then spends it as she thinks proper. The married gentleman is moreover to make a present to each of the brothers and sisters of his intended.
"The young lady, on her part, gives some present to her bridemaid: she often presents her with a dress or some ornament, and she receives in her turn from the other, a girdle, gloves, and a bouquet of orange flowers."
The young lady, on her part, gives some present to her bridemaid: she often presents her with a dress or some ornament, and she receives in her turn from the other, a girdle, gloves, and a bouquet of orange flowers. Since we have spoken of marriage presents, we will add that at Paris the married lady must receive a gift from her sisters and cousins, and that in the provincial towns, on the contrary, she must offer them some token.

We will now pass to the ceremony: after the celebration of the legal act, which may be some days previous, the married couple, by their parents, commonly go to the church in the carriages which conducted them to the office where the legal act was performed; for at Paris, whatever situation in life the parties may be in, they never go on foot. The married lady goes in one carriage with her relations and the bridemaid; the gentleman in another carriage with his father and mother, or his nearest relatives.

The acquaintances of the two married persons, repair to the church at the appointed hour; the friends of the gentleman place themselves on the right, those of the lady on the left hand, on seats prepared beforehand.

The marriage train then advances in the following order; the lady gives her hand to her father, or to one who represents him; then comes the gentleman with his mother, or the lady who represents her, and afterwards the members of the two families follow in couples.

When the couple and their relations approach the altar, each of the persons present bows to them in silence; the relations place themselves in the same order as the acquaintances, and before the latter, in the front row, which should be reserved for them. The couple to be married are placed in the middle. Although it is polite always to present the right hand to the lady whom we conduct, or to give her the right when we are next her, yet the bridegroom takes the right of the bride, because, in this act, which is at once religious and civil, man ought to preserve the prerogative which the law both human and divine have conferred upon him; besides, as the bridegroom is to place the nuptial ring on the finger of the bride, it is more convenient for him to be upon the right hand than the left.

When the clergyman puts the questions to them, each should consult their relations by a respectful sign of the head, before answering the decisive "yes."
The gothic-style, Basilica of Saint Clotilde (Basilique Ste-Clotilde) is in Paris, located on the Rue Las Cases, in the area of Saint-Germain-des-Prés
The veil is held over the head of the bride by two children whose parents we wish to compliment. The business of the bridemaid who has presided at the toilet of the bride, is to designate their places at the religious ceremony in church; and afterwards, at the ball, is to supply the place of the bride, who can take no active part; it is usually one of her sisters or a most intimate friend who is chosen for this purpose.

The groomsman, for there should be one or even more, looks well to the list of those invited to the ceremony, to see what persons are absent, because it is the custom of married persons not to make the marriage visit to any one who has been guilty of this impoliteness.

The married gentleman must give presents to the attendants at the church, the poor, etc...

After the nuptial benediction, the married couple again salute the assembly, and then receive the compliments of each one. There are some families in a more humble situation, where the married lady is embraced by all at the marriage ceremony; in those in a higher station in life, she embraces only her father, her mother, and her new relations. The new husband gives his hand to his wife when returning from the church; nevertheless at dinner he should be placed between his mother and his mother-in-law, while his wife is to be seated between her father and father-in-law.

In case there is a supper, the married couple sit next each other.

The married lady opens the ball with the most distinguished person in the assembly; she retires privately, accompanied by her mother, and one or more near relations whom they wish to compliment.

The newly married couple make marriage visits in the course of a fortnight, in a carriage, and in full dress. They should make these visits alone. They leave their cards for those with whom they do not wish to be intimate.

Such are the received usages in the capital. In the provinces, many of the old and common customs are preserved, as the gift of a laced shirt bosom to the husband by his wife; wedding favors or ribbands for the wife, ribbands of two colors with which they decorate the
young persons in the marriage suite, etc...

From Elisabeth Celnart's 1833, “The Gentleman and Lady's Book of Politeness and Propriety of Deportment, Dedicated to the Youth of Both Sexes. Translated from the Sixth Paris Edition"

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Moderator for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Etiquette and Self-Control Are Contagious

Studies showed there is a direct effect of our friends' behavior on our own behavior, and the findings apply not only to the people we choose to hang out with, but those we are forced to hang out with, such as co-workers.

People you spend time with affect your behavior, for good or bad, research finds...

If you spend time with people who exhibit self-control -- resisting the death-by-chocolate cake after a restaurant meal, for instance -- you can expect your own self-control to be pretty good, too, according to new research. But the opposite seems true, too: Spending time with people with less-than-ideal self-control will influence you negatively, the researchers found.

"Before, we knew people tended to hang out with other people who were like themselves," said Michelle vanDellen, a visiting assistant professor of psychology at the University of Georgia, who led the research, which was published online in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

"But in these studies, we actually show there is a direct effect of our friends' behavior on our own behavior," vanDellen said. The findings apply, she said, "not only to the people we [choose to] hang out with, but those we are forced to hang out with," such as co-workers on the job.

The conclusions came from five studies conducted by vanDellen and her co-author, Rick Hoyle of Duke University.

The best study, she said, and the most fun, involved 71 participants and two plates of food -- one stacked with carrot sticks, the other with freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. The participants either watched someone exhibit self-control by eating the carrots and leaving the cookies, or vice versa. Later, the participants took self-control tests (not involving cookies and carrots). Those who had watched a person eat cookies did less well than those who had watched someone eat carrots.

In another study, the researchers found that 36 participants randomly assigned to think of a friend with good self-control persisted longer on a handgrip test used to measure self-control than did the participants assigned to think about a friend with bad self-control.

What about online behavior? Why are people so rude online? According to research from professors at Columbia University and the University of Pittsburgh, browsing Facebook lowers our self control. The effect is most pronounced with people whose Facebook networks were made up of close friends, the researchers say. Most of us present an enhanced image of ourselves on Facebook. This positive image—and the encouragement we get, in the form of "likes"—boosts our self-esteem. And when we have an inflated sense of self, we tend to exhibit poor self-control. "Think of it as a licensing effect: You feel good about yourself so you feel a sense of entitlement," says Keith Wilcox, assistant professor of marketing at Columbia Business School and co-author of the study. "And you want to protect that enhanced view, which might be why people are lashing out so strongly at others who don't share their opinions." These types of behavior—poor self control, inflated sense of self—"are often displayed by people impaired by alcohol," he adds. From WSJ.com

Another study involved assigning 42 people to list the names of friends with good and bad self-control. As the participants took a test designed to measure self-control, a name was flashed very briefly on a computer screen. Those who saw the name of a friend with good self-control did better on the test than those who saw the name of a friend with poor self-control.

The researchers also assigned 112 people to write about a friend with good self-control, a friend with bad self-control or an outgoing friend. Those who wrote about a friend with good self-control did best on a test of self-control, those who wrote about a friend with bad self-control did worst and those who wrote about an outgoing friend scored in between the others.

In the fifth study, 117 people were randomly assigned to write about friends with good or bad self-control. Those who wrote about a friend with good self-control did better on word identification tests related to self-control, the researchers found.

"I think the message is really two-fold," vanDellen said of the research. "The first is, one way you can improve your behavior is by finding social networkers that support you." It makes sense, she said, to seek out people you know have self-control if you want to boost your own.

The other message, she said, is accountability. The research suggests that others aren't just watching your behavior when you show a lack of self-control but might actually be influenced by it. If a woman's husband is trying to lose weight, for instance, the last thing she should do is act like a lazy person who doesn't exercise in front of him, she said.

The research findings make sense, said Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis. "Surrounding yourself with motivated, healthy people improves your odds of staying in control," she said.

Diekman said that's certainly the case with healthy eating. "When it comes to making healthy choices, we know that it is easier to skip dessert, limit portions or purchase the right foods if others we are with support these behaviors," she said.

From a 2010 article in "Going Places," and a 2012 article in WSJ.com