Social Grace in Modern Times
I am not a sensitive person, and I don’t offend easily. Even when others are less than polite, I am pretty "go with the flow" and don’t take too much exception to it. However, I have been reading a lot about etiquette lately just out of curiosity.
I remember one of the course books I had in school while homeschooling was a book about very basic etiquette for a young lady. It was sort of outdated, but it taught young people some useful skills, such as how to appropriately introduce people to one another, how to send a thank you card and what the appropriate time frames were to send it depending on the occasion, and how to send RSVPs and knowing how to bring gifts to the hostess of a party.
I have never been much for standing on ceremony, but I think it’s unfortunate that we have lost some of the basic rules of etiquette. I know a few people with social anxiety, and I think if we all knew the rules of etiquette and practiced them it would actually alleviate some of that anxiety because we would behave in expected ways.
I follow a great blog called The Art of Manliness. I am not a man, but this blog is incredibly well written and the different themes it touches on manage to impress me every day. It hits on all kinds of themes that the writer believes all men should know such as how to develop basic skills, grooming and style, and etiquette in different situations. It is a modern take on masculine etiquette.
I think perhaps people resist traditional aspects of etiquette and formal manners because it harkens back to a time when society viewed male and female roles in outdated ways. However, our modern achievements in gender roles can still make room to appreciate social grace.
Most rules of etiquette are basic common sense that saves everyone an awkward moment, and yet often not practiced. Walking on the right-hand side so someone coming towards you can pass easily is one example. Entering and exiting a chair around a conference table on the correct side so people aren’t crashing into one another upon rising is another (no one seems to understand this one!). And one I know irritates me the most, introducing people to one another properly!
Here is an article I read outlining some of the most basic etiquette rules, rules that if we all committed to practicing it might spare us all a few awkward moments!