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Manners Matter

“Good manners have much to do with the emotions. To make them ring true, one must feel them, not merely exhibit them.” ? Amy Vanderbilt

There is much to be said about manners and etiquette in this digital age we live in. Amy Vanderbilt, Emily Post and our very own Conchitina Sevilla Bernardo have been the guides to help sort our the awkwardness of following what we feel is right, and what is most often accepted as norm. What we all agree is that the way we do things – those much ballyhooed social conventions are changing as quickly as we daresay change our mobile phones. Indeed, most norms are actually abnormal.

In an article by Steven Arthur Pinker, renowned Canadian-born American cognitive psychologist, linguist, and popular science author, he writes that these manuals of Western civilization were in fact success manuals. They taught knights and nobles how to conduct themselves in the court of the king—which is where we get the concepts of “courtly” and “courtesy.”

Today, our view of etiquette and manners maybe seen as archaic. Unless of course you have had your fill of The Crown or Downton Abbey.  Manners and etiquette do differ. Manners is how one behaves and acts with respect to others. Etiquette is the form of societal rules that embraces ones manners. Manners is actually cross cultural, like respect for elders, while etiquette can be specific to a particular culture. Like in the Philippines where we great elders with a “mano po.”

There is a confluence of the two, but rest assured my task is to help you in a pickle.  If so, don't fret because lots of people feel that way. Take control of your life and learn some basic etiquette and manners tips to help you feel more gracious.

Here are some basics that hold true today:

  1. When being late, don’t text. The rule is just don’t be late. Knowing traffic is horrid, thus having no real excuse, leave earlier for an occasion.
  2. Always come to a party with a gift for the host. Anything will do, a bottle, or even a cake. Its no harm regifting a delicacy, but say so, and who gave it and want to share it with your host.
  3. Speaking of arriving, make sure you let the host know that you will be coming. Specially if it is a sitdown event, where the number of people on the table matter. A call would be appreciated, rather than a text.
  4. On the matter of texting, if you need to ask someone a question and it would be from out of the blue, text if the person may take a call. After the initial conversation would it be polite to follow up by text.
  5. When arriving at a dinner, make sure your phone is on silent. If you must make a call, move to a location away from the melee, and be discreet. If you know it’s going to be a heated discourse, and you need to settle it, leave the party briefly, like if in an apartment, take the call in the lobby, and if in a home, a secluded part of the house.
  6. At the table, absolutely do not put anything on the table except for the food and cutlery. Keep that phone away. Enjoy the conversation. The host has prepared, so enjoy having some time together.
  7. With everyone on a diet nowadays, just don’t make your diet the hosts problem. Honestly, if you are on a diet, just don’t go!
  8. On photos and posts, keep the pictures and IG stories to a minimum. You could be talking about things that just shouldn’t be mentioned.
  9. And the rest is all basic: keep your elbows off the table, don’t talk with your mouth full, don’t talk about someone who isn’t around (a very typical irritation), be gracious, say you don’t know when you don’t and simply be pleasant.
  10. And try and make the habit of sending a thank you note. A hand written card is always welcome in this digital age!
  11. There are a whole host of conventions that we live in, but the rule is very simple: life doesn’t revolve around you. Be caring and understanding of others and you will indeed be a much better person.