Would you believe, we have officially entered into the holiday season? That’s Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s, all falling within a 90-day time frame. It’s crazy under normal circumstances, but this year is extraordinary with COVID concerns and restrictions. And yes, it can be very stressful! I bring this up because it makes me think about how important it is that we are patient, tolerant, and gracious with our family and friends during this time of year. We never know what someone is dealing with or going through in their life that may be causing them to be less than pleasant. I have such empathy for the parents dealing with home schooling right now. I have empathy for those of us dealing with aging parents. I have empathy for those who have not had work over the last year, and the list goes on. In an effort to be our most gracious selves, I thought a topic about modern etiquette tips would be timely. Since etiquette guidelines are always changing with the times, we may think we are being gracious when we are actually being rude!
The New Modern Etiquette
Here are some etiquette guidelines that have changed since our parents’ and grandparents’ time.
Waiting for the whole table to be served before you eat
Some people still think it’s important to wait for everyone at the table to be served before they start eating. Just think of the quandary at a restaurant when someone’s food is late or sent back…! While you might make a polite motion to wait, any gracious guest who realizes that everyone else’s food is getting cold will not want to hold up the table on their account. Extending a “please eat” to the other guests is more encouraged these days than forcing everyone to wait while their food gets cold.
Bringing a gift when an invitation specifies otherwise
Great holiday advice, right here! If an invitation says “no gifts,” don’t take that as a mere suggestion; it’s probably not a thinly veiled gift grab. So then why not go above and beyond and bring a gift anyway? It embarrasses the other guests who stuck to the invitation and did not bring a gift. If you’d like to bestow a gift, you may make private arrangements to do so.
Holding the door open
It’s still polite to hold the door for someone who is right behind you. It’s not so polite to hold a door for someone who is so far behind you, they will have to sprint to make it before your arm gives out.
Overdressing at work
Office dress codes are important, but you don’t need to wear a suit or dress three levels above everyone else’s attire to be taken seriously. More companies have embraced a business-casual dress code, with some even encouraging jeans and T-shirts. But it’s probably not OK to show up in ripped jeans and a tank top! This is why helping people dress business casual has become so important in my business, because finding the right balance is tricky.
Serving women first at a restaurant
According to food and dining site Eater, many fine restaurants adopted a classic service standard where women were served first, going clockwise around the table, then men were similarly served after. This included ordering, pouring water, serving plates, and clearing dishes. More restaurants are abandoning their “ladies first” policies to serve guests by seat numbers, regardless of gender.
Wearing white after Labor Day
Although wearing white after Labor Day was once a fashion no-no, this rule has been debunked for a while. Wear the colors that look great on you and that make you happy! Just be careful with fabric weight, making sure to save the lighter weight fabrics for summer, and using heavier weight fabrics to transition to cooler weather.
Dressing formal for funerals
Most funeral attendees are appreciated for their presence, not judged for their attire. Although you do not have to wear formal dress or even black anymore, it is recommended to wear something respectful and not too bright in color if you are at a traditional funeral. Nowadays, many people hold a themed service and ask people to wear Hawaiian shirts, for example.
Men picking up the check
The man always paying for dates is an old-fashioned etiquette rule that is slowly but surely dying out. Only half of Generation Z believe that men should pick up the tab for dates, compared to nearly three-quarters of their grandparents who agree. Modern dating suggests that the person who asked for the date should also offer to pick up the check.
Returning a casserole dish with food
During tough times, such as a death, a new baby, or an illness, it’s common for friends and loved ones to help out the impacted parties by bringing homecooked meals, such as casseroles. While it was once good form to return the dish with a new homecooked meal, a simple thank-you note is an acceptable substitute these days.
Calling adults by title and last name
When you first watched Titanic, do you remember how the well-to-do all called each other by title and last name: Mr. Andrews, Mr. Ismay, Mrs. Brown? That was expected many years ago, but today we may call fellow adults by their first names, even during the initial introduction. It is similarly acceptable for a child to call an adult by their first name, provided the adult has given that child permission.
Saying “Let’s do this again soon” when you don’t intend to
What used to be a polite way to say good-bye has now become a question of integrity. If you don’t follow up, you’re at best flaky, and at worst dishonest. So don’t offer to get together again soon unless you actually mean to. It’s like saying “I’ll call you” after a bad date!
Modern Etiquette, In Conclusion
We’ve all heard or even expressed disapproval of a younger generation over their lack of common courtesy. But after learning how much modern etiquette has changed in the last few decades, let’s try to remember that younger people’s idea of manners may just be different. Be sure to keep up with the latest business and social etiquette, so that you’re always making others feel great!
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