I am a stickler for excellent manners. I positively live for excellent manners.
One example: My insistence on using a proper greeting in texts and emails.
Here’s what I mean:
I’m in frequent (as in several times a week frequent) contact with my neighbor Lynn, who lives down the street.
Not only are our daughters in the very same class at school, they’re extremely tight buds who can never quite get enough of each other.
Lynn and I are also in Bible Study together (she invited me, actually, and it’s been so great), and we like to occasionally e-suggest books we’ve loved and think the other might enjoy.
(A mutual fave: Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan. So, so good.)
But despite the frequency of our interactions, I never – nev. er. – kick off an email chain without a “Hi Lynn” before launching into my spiel.
I’m not such a nut that I continue to use the “Hi Lynn” greeting as we’re pinging back and forth with playdate specifics, à la: “Make sure she brings a swimsuit!” Or: “We’re heading out for dinner soon. Please give her the 5-minute warning!”
Still, I err on the side of formality.
And speaking of heading out to dinner, here’s another example of my etiquette rules-iness:
As soon as we sit down in a restaurant, if I don’t see the Wee Lass immediately making some core place-setting moves, I say:
“Napkin on your lapkin!”
She is also to order her meal herself, addressing the waitperson with plenty of eye contact and oodles of “Pleases” and “Thank yous.”
Thus, given my propensity for being borderline uppity, you can imagine my glee when I heard about a new London etiquette class offered by a combo pack of Debrett’s and Tatler mag.
I don’t read Tatler much, but I love it when I do. It’s gossipy and fun, with lots of ladies wearing kooky hats and flower-strewn frocks, and the occasional rando sighting of a “Downton Abbey” cast member out and about looking eerily 2015. It’s like a cheerier, more overtly class-conscious version of VF – minus all the 50-page listicles of “Silicon Valley’s Top 100 Tech Titans” (yawn…).
Debrett’s is a different beast altogether. Established in 1769, it’s basically the Who’s Who of England’s – wait for it – ruling class. By painstakingly tracking family lineage, Debrett’s has aided many a social climber in her quest to scale the heights of Mount Snobbiness.
With its handy list of “Britain’s 500 Most Influential People” – broken out by such categories as Science & Medicine, Fashion and Food & Drink – Debrett’s is actually quite VF in its power-broker listicle-ness, now that I think of it…
But back to this new etiquette “academy” that Tatler and Debrett’s have partnered on, which sounds both fabulous and incredibly useful to young women growing up in these god awful, gadget-obsessed, Tinder-y times.
Just read this course description:
Coming of Age
This course equips teenagers aged 13-16 with the confidence and skills to sail through social situations and make the most of every opportunity. They learn how to be the perfect guest, make contacts for life and develop awareness of their personal – and online – impact to ensure they make the best impression on whoever they meet.
A sampling of Course Content: “Confident first impressions”; “How to be a good guest”; “The impact of social media”; “Managing your reputation”
Or how about this one?
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. This course builds natural personal qualities, further developing social language, presentation and people skills, to help young adults put their best foot forward socially. They will be equipped for that transition from school to university and beyond.
A sampling of Course Content: “Don’t cross your arms and other body language pitfalls”; “Can I eat asparagus with my hands? And other dining conundrums”; “Confidence vs. arrogance”; “Coping with failure”
Personally, I would love my daughter to learn every bit of this stuff. I want her to be able to glide, seamlessly, through any and all situations, be they social or business.
Flawless, napkin-on-the-lapkin manners will take her anywhere she wants to go.