Growing up, the word ‘etiquette’ was rare in a standard vocabulary and rarer was the practice. In this microwave age where people are preoccupied with the latest trend in technology, fashion, food, lifestyle,(at the peril of good manners) I think it necessary to issue a reminder here of the benefits of civility and resuscitate the unconsciousness of a worthy cause. A reason many disregard etiquettes is because they look down on it as an ‘old-fashioned’ practice whereas, it is the new cool!
Etiquettes is more than knowing the right cutlery to use at the table. It is about politeness, graciousness, consideration, kindness, poise and so on. It is not a seasonal exercise as it cannot be compartmentalized. Subsequent issues will discuss more on etiquettes, meanwhile, a few key points are highlighted below.
- The magic words still work magic- ‘please’, ‘sorry’, ‘excuse me’, ‘thank you’, ‘you’re welcome’. As inconsequential as they may seem in speech, they work mightily in the subconscious. While it may not make your day, but a simple thank you improves your disposition to a stranger and to yourself. Kind words are double-edged like that.
- Except you are signaling to a pet, do not snap your fingers to get someone’s attention- it’s rude! And the excuse of forgetting their name does not cut the mustard, if anything, it’s worse. A simple ‘excuse me’ is a better idea if they are within earshot.
- Please stop staring. It’s rude.
- Two things are expected of you when you’re paid a compliment- an appreciative response of ‘thank you’. The second thing to do is to keep quiet! We don’t have to know it’s a Givenchy or Longines, neither do we have to know it was handed down from your great grand mother. The rule is do not trivialize the compliment and don’t fish for more.
- Ladies, if you can’t make up your mind about any other thing, decide whether the nail colour is on or off. There’s nothing chic about half-coloured nails.
- An odour is always offensive. Taking care of it (by brushing regularly, flossing, bathing and using anti-perspirant) can spare you a great deal of embarrassment and improve your confidence. ‘Hygienic’ is a relative condition. Not everyone can brush their teeth once in 24 hours or bathe once a day as some (particularly guys) accept as the norm. We are in the tropics, so if you choose to bathe once in a day, the weather will tell on you and if you are a once-in-a-day mouthbrusher, imagine the catastrophe you cause in the 23rd hour (or even earlier) when you open your mouth to speak/ yawn or laugh! Popping a sugar-free, mint-flavoured sweet intermittently may help the situation or, a portable bottle of mouthwash. Bear in mind however that these are temporary solutions. If you have access to a decent bathroom, by all means brush.
- Just as magic words are necessary in polite speech, there are certain vulgar slangs you may want to sieve out of your vocabulary if you are going to have a decent conversation. I’ll spell a few , f-u-c-k, a-s-s. Some think it ‘cool’ to use them but if you can be cool without using these words, then you are really cool.
- One of the effective ways to announce your disregard for order or civility is to queue-jump. In the event of an emergency, explain your plight to those in front of the queue. If they buy your story, good for you. If you are a title-holder in queue-jumping, you may want to reconsider that position. It’s simply inglorious.