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Etiquette and manners

By Nickunj Malik - Nov 28,2018 - Last updated at Nov 28,2018

It should not bother me at this late stage in life, but I still get annoyed with bad mannered people. Especially the ones who do not turn up on time to a dinner invite, make last minute cancellations without an adequate excuse and the worst of all, who forget the basic etiquette of thanking the hosts for the effort they have made by, well, hosting them. 

Of course, being polite means saying “please”, “sorry” and “thank you” at the appropriate moments, as well as assisting the elderly, disabled and pregnant persons, whenever one can. These fundamentals are ingrained into most of us in our childhood and we follow it through during the rest of our lives. However, the problem arises when we become complacent and start taking friendships and family relationships for granted. 

In this day and age- where everyone is caught up in a mad rush, if anybody goes out of their way to do anything for you, he or she must be thanked. Either via a telephone call, WhatsApp communication, SMS message or an e-mail, the choice is yours, but the note of appreciation should be sent. Being a good host or hostess takes quite a bit of planning and energy to make sure everybody is comfortable and has a good time. So, if you have been a guest in someone’s home, a thank you missive is the best way to show your gratitude. 

The famous American manners maven Emily Post, who published her first book on politeness called “Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home”  in the year 1922, which became an instant best-seller, with updated versions continuing to be popular for decades stated; “As soon as you get home after visiting someone for an overnight stay, attending a celebration, or a dinner party- proper etiquette dictates sending a thank you note. It doesn’t have to be a long letter, but it should convey your deepest gratefulness. Hosting requires quite a bit of time and effort, so this gives you a chance to acknowledge that.” 

Since writing these notes has now become a forgotten habit, what must one put in it? You can start by saying thanks for being invited, express something specific such as what you liked about a particular dish (at a dinner or lunch) or a special activity (if you have stayed for a week), add a personal observation and offer to reciprocate. The key is to convey your sincere thankfulness and that is all. 

Over the years, I hosted innumerable friends and extended family members in our home. Of the lot, a few sent beautiful heartfelt messages of appreciation after their departure whereas the rest simply went back to where they came from and there was a studied silence from them. Unfortunately, the folks who were related to me by blood or by marriage were the ones to display the utmost lack of etiquette. 

“Relatives should avoid each other at a party, as they can enjoy one another’s society in private, and it is the constantly changing conversation, and complete sociability that makes a party pleasant,” I read aloud to my husband from a volume curiously named “The Gentlemen’s book of etiquette and manual of politeness” by Cecil B Hartley. 

“You checked the guest list?” I asked my spouse.

“No family is invited I noticed,” he said.

“Are you avoiding them?” he questioned.

I waved the book I was reading. 

“I’m simply guiding them,” I answered.

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