Monday, October 26, 2015

Etiquette and Self Control

Control of the Impulses — "He may be greatly enthusiastic about some unexpected happening, but he never becomes excited, never loses control of his reasoning faculties."

The cultured man is never angry, never impatient, never demonstrative. His actions and speech are tempered with a dispassionate calmness and tranquility that the French admiringly call "sang froid." He knows how to control his emotions so effectively that no one can read, in his self-possessed expression, whether he is angry or pleased, discouraged or eager.

Perhaps the most striking and admirable thing about a man of breeding is his carefully disciplined impulses. He may at times lose control of himself, but he is never petulant, never incoherent. He may be greatly enthusiastic about some unexpected happening, but he never becomes excited, never loses control of his reasoning faculties. He never gives the appearance of being in a hurry, no matter how swift his actions may be--there is always about him the suggestion of leisure and poise.

Swearing is essentially vulgar. It was Dr. Crane, the famous essayist and philosopher, who said in one of his delightful talks, "The superior man is gentle. It is only the man with a defective vocabulary that swears. All noise is waste. The silent sun is mightier than the whirlwind. The genuine lady speaks low. The most striking characteristic of the superior ones is their quiet, their poise. They have about them a sense of the stars." Strong feeling, anger, have no place in the social life.

We are all uneasy at times. We all have our embarrassing moments. But the well-bred person knows how to conceal his emotions, and impulses, so well that no one but himself knows that he is uneasy or embarrassed. It is not only exceedingly unpleasant, but it is also very poor form to show by our gestures and frowns and speech that we are annoyed by some circumstance that is entirely beyond our control.

Impulsiveness is often the cause of serious breaches of etiquette -- breaches that are, socially speaking, the ruin of many a rising young man, of many an otherwise charming young woman. The gentleman never shows by hasty word or angry glance that he is displeased with some service. The lady never shows, either in her speech or manner, that she is excited with some unexpected happening, or disappointed because something did not happen the way she planned it. It is only by studying the rules of etiquette and knowing absolutely what is right to do and say under all conditions that one acquires this splendid self-possession and composure of manner. —Lillian Eichler



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