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View Full Version : Good Manners a thing of the past?



Lady Sarah
10-15-2010, 01:17 PM
As I've stated before, I'm a member of a few Steampunk related LJ Communities. One in particular, steamfashion, has a little bit of a fluster this morning/afternoon.

A member posted that she went to a book signing for a Steamy author recently. She admitted she showed up a little late and there were no seats to be had. She also dressed in garb. However, she said it was a bad experience as no one got up to give her a seat, no one spoke to her and they (other garbed attendees) looked unfriendly.

Now, I can go along with some of the responders who said 'tough nuts - you were late, you don't get a seat'. I can even go along with 'if you want friendly people, you should be friendly to them.'

What irritates me is that it seems that good manners have gone out the window in this day and age. I'm not saying that someone should have given up their seat for her. I'm in agreement with the 'you were late, I'm sorry' thought. However, shouldn't someone have at least offered their seat?

I look back at all the times I've been out in public with my parents, my mother's father, my uncle and my brother. Never once has a woman come into their presence that any of the men didn't open the door or offer their seat (like waiting in a restaurant lobby to be seated). Hell, *I* have even opened doors and offered my seat to others! It's just good manners, to me! Daddy's been told a few times, upon opening a door for a female, that she didn't need his help - in a nasty tone of voice, no less. Thankfully he was quick enough to tell the most recent one "I'm sorry, Ma'am, but I was raised to open the door for a Lady. Apparently I need to get my eyes checked." I try very hard to find the parents of teenagers - most especially young men - who hold the door or offer their seat, and tell them thank you for raising a well mannered person. If they're alone, I always thank them for the courtesy.

What flabbergasted me on the LJ community was the reaction to the manners suggestion. So that got me to thinking - ARE good manners as we know them now, a thing of the past? Is it antiquated of us to believe that gentlemen should open a door for a lady (and vice versa! I get so many surprised looks when I hold the door open for men!) or that you should offer your seat? I'm not suggesting that we, as women, should expect it out of men or other women, but why can't we at least have the good manners to make the gesture? Is this a Southern or Texan thing? It can't be, Mama's from Detroit and her mother would be rolling in her grave if I didn't show good manners!

What do you think? Am I showing outdated and irrelevant thinking?

Mistress Morigianna
10-15-2010, 03:01 PM
I took the bus one day when I was about 30. The bus was pretty full. An elderly lady got on and was standing holding a pole. I got up and offered my seat to her. She thanked me and sat down. Then a fatherly figure POKED his teen and told him- Get up! So the teen gave me his seat.

Now I think I would have been standing the whole time after giving up my seat.

I miss Please & Thank You from people. I am thinking of skipping halows night because the "gimme candy" really gets to me. Not even trick or treat- just GIMME.

Torra
10-15-2010, 03:55 PM
In general, I appreciate the door held open and seats offered - I do it myself and like the courtesy of it. However, in this particular situation, I would not have offered my seat to another lady because she arrived late unless she were heavily pregnant or visibly injured (in a cast, on crutches, pronounced limp, etc). If she asked me in a way that made it clear she asked because of health instead of convenience, I would move. Without reading the original post, I wonder if she was just a little sore that people didn't leap to offer assistance and were miffed at the stir her late arrival caused.

Good manners certainly aren't taught in abundance any longer, but I think there's enough people left to at least stanch the bloodflow. I read Emily Post and Miss Manners for fun (I'm strange) and fully intend on teaching manners/social graces to any child I have. As far as I can tell, manners never hurt anyone and have proven to be a tool for success for many.

RaevynCait
10-15-2010, 04:14 PM
I think basic manners started being lost when society started moving more toward the "it's all about ME." My mom was a Texan, and I'm certain that even without the expectations of manners that come with being the child of an active duty commissioned officer, good manners would have been part of what was expected of me growing up.

In most instances, I don't NEED a man to open the door for me, however I do appreciate when they do so, and thank them when it happens. As for seats, well, the only place I really frequent that there's ever a limit on seating is faire, and I've found that in general, the rogues who are about our general group are good about vacating seats when someone may wish to sit and there are limited seats. Most of the kids are pretty good about it too, though some have to be asked before they do it.
I cannot imagine being late for something (I'm virtually always early wherever I go) and EXPECTING a seat or a warm welcome from total strangers. That being said, I don't know what sort of person she is, what kind of day she'd had, or whether she was simply venting frustrations, not really expecting a lot of sympathy, so it's possible she just felt the need to rant for a second and get it off her chest.

Caitriona
10-15-2010, 04:56 PM
Am I the only one who finds it rude to be late? That is also a sign of self-centeredness. To expect everyone and everything to be on your schedule.

I'm a big fan of please and thank you, offering a seat and holding a door. I hope I raised Zach well enough to do those things without me there and prompting him.

I wouldn't expect a warm welcome if I were late to an event.

AllieSutherland
10-15-2010, 05:08 PM
"She also dressed in garb. However, she said it was a bad experience as no one got up to give her a seat, no one spoke to her and they (other garbed attendees) looked unfriendly."

This is a personal pet peeve of mine. When people complain that "no one spoke to them," do they consider that they can speak first just as easily? As far as people looking unfriendly, maybe she looked just as unfriendly to them.

A smile is a simple icebreaker that can go a long way.

For the record, I agree with Catriona.

Lady Sarah
10-15-2010, 05:19 PM
At book signings, there isn't really a 'late', so much as a 'too late to get a seat'. Trust me, book signings can go on for hours. And unless it's a book reading by the author, no one should look down their nose at you for arriving late to a book signing. People are coming and going all the time in a bookstore.

I think she was venting at the lack of friendliness from the other garbed people. The majority of the responders to her post also suggested, as did I, that she'd have to make the first offer of friendship or ice breaking.

I was merely curious about the manners discussion. I suggested that manners were a lost art and some of the responses got me to thinking. That's why I posted this thread.

Lady Hefron
10-15-2010, 09:19 PM
I have noticed that fewer and fewer people use basic manners. It makes me sad. I don't think that manners are being taught to children the way we (of my generation) learned them. Please and Thank You go a long way, as do a seat given up to a lady or a door held or opened.

I have to say that I still expect a gentleman to act as such and I expect a lady to act as such. The fact that I meet so few out in public is a sad comment on today's society.

Adriana Rose
10-16-2010, 01:21 PM
It annoys me that good manners are going by the wayside, there is nothing wrong with them in fact they are there for a reason.

I am getting good manners into my son weather he likes it or not. It drives me nuts to see how kids act my mom would have swatted me if I acted like some of these kids!

When I was in highschool I was riding the city bus, I live in a resort town and it was winter so the bus was PACKED an elderly woman got on the bus and not ONE of the men on the bus budged I was the one that gave up my seat. I really lost some faith in humanity that day.

Now at my shop at Faire it makes me really sad that very little of the girls say please and thank you. It drove me nuts enough that I started saying " Every good Princess says please." And dont get me started on the kids that just start yanking on the racks and playing hide and seek in the ribbions.

To me its not an antiquated thing to have manners and I see no problem in inforcing manners in the younger generations. I am with Lady Hefron with being sad that there is very few ladies and gentlemen.

LdyJhawk
10-16-2010, 07:19 PM
I don't feel it's bad manners to not offer a seat to someone just because they came in late unless they appear to be disabled or heavily pregnant. Until then? They aren't entitled to any seats they weren't prepared to come on time to get

daBaroness
10-16-2010, 10:36 PM
Good manners have gone the way of so many other things. It's sad - there's nothing but good in extending a courtesy, some thoughtfulness and a kind word to anyone - no matter their reaction. It saddens me that so few people these days exchange even a simple courtesy, a friendly greeting or some thoughtfulness to anyone, muchless someone older, someone with full hands, or just because. Yes, I'm completely capable of opening my own door, pushing in my own chair or standing on the bus - but it warms my heart when someone extends me that kindness. I always thank them and I compliment parents when their children show some common courtesy and civility. The world would be a better place if we would all just extend and graciously accept these small kindnesses.

Jamianne
10-17-2010, 10:49 AM
While I agree that in general good manners are disappearing, in this case, I don't feel anyone displayed a lack of manners by not offering her a seat. If she were pregnant, disabled or elderly, then someone should have allowed her to sit. Otherwise, she should have been on time if she wanted a seat. And depending on what was going on - if there was a reading or speaking or something of that nature - it could have been disruptive for someone to get up and have her sit.

Ysobelle
10-17-2010, 11:01 AM
I agree that it would have been nice if people were more outgoing, but it takes as much mental effort to say hello to someone at an event as it does to bitch at them later in a public forum for being unfriendly.

I do have to say, though, that as long as someone is polite to me, I don't automatically expect gender-based gestures, or get bent out of shape if a man doesn't open a door or give up a seat. I don't think manners should necessarily be based on sex.

RedFox
10-17-2010, 07:27 PM
I do have to say, though, that as long as someone is polite to me, I don't automatically expect gender-based gestures, or get bent out of shape if a man doesn't open a door or give up a seat. I don't think manners should necessarily be based on sex.

I agree with this. But I do want manners to be there. Please and thank you go a long way. Being kind to other people (offering a seat to someone who really needs it, or opening the door for someone) are great things to do. And its sad to say that opening the door is all I really see anymore - if I see it. I don't know how many confused looks I have gotten from people in stores that I help just because I want to. I have helped people get something off a shelf they can't reach, I helped one woman in Borders carry her books up to the register (she was getting two of the mesh bags full of books) and it was just because I wanted to. Not because I worked there (and I didn't) but because it looked like they could use a hand.

Manners have gone the way-side of everything else and it is a real shame that they have. And I'll be damned if when I have kids I don't teach them proper manners and how to be nice and polite. Hell I have lectured a teenager in the middle of a store for rude behavior before >><< (his mother laughed her ass off that a random stranger lectured him) Though I would love to know why I was the one that did it and not her.....

Kae
10-18-2010, 09:04 AM
Ok - My question is slightly different. How do you define manners? What do they look like to you?

I have a funny idea that the answer will be based on your generation. What I grew up with as good manners, many of my students look at me strange.
Kae

Lady Hefron
10-18-2010, 09:37 AM
I define Manners as being polite. Please and Thank you, Helping someone who could use it, Giving up your seat to a lady, a pregnant lady, the elderly of both sexes or anyone who looks like they need it more than you, not chewing or talking with your mouth full, sending a Thank you note for a gift, not using your fingers to eat (unless it is finger food)...you know The Basics.

Manners are different than practicing strict Etiquette. Strict etiquette is a much more intricate (and fascinating) subject.

I expect the Basics of good behavior to be practiced.

Torra
10-18-2010, 10:42 AM
Manners is being polite. They are the practices associated with the idea of etiquette. Etiquette is the idea that one does certain things to make others comfortable in a variety of situations. It can include being a good host (looking to your guests' comfort by offering refreshment, having a clean home), being a good neighbor (taking out your trash, maintaining your lawn), or other things. The overall point is to make people feel at ease and to be considerate of not only yourself but the people you currently share surroundings with.

ETA: I have to disagree with Lady Hef, so-called "strict etiquette" is a bad idea, simply because it tends to become classist and those familiar with it can use it to make those unfamiliar with it feel inferior. Strict adherence to etiquette demands, not a prescribed practice or set thereof, but the attitude that one is a part of a whole and one should act to make others feel at ease.

Jamianne
10-18-2010, 01:14 PM
I'd define manners as being polite. Using please, thank you and excuse me. Being on time, holding a door if someone is right behind you, giving your seat to a pregnant woman or someone who is elderly or disabled, not talking/texting on your cell phone where it's not appropriate, not interrupting when others are speaking, keeping your voice to an appropriate volume, not talking with your mouth full, writing and sending thank you notes for gifts, etc. And to a certain extent also things such as not walking five abreast so that you take up an entire aisle or sidewalk, not stopping in the middle of a high-traffic area to chat making it difficult for others to get around you.

Phoenix McHeit
10-18-2010, 01:18 PM
Manners is... positively considering the feelings and comfort of those around you, and acting accordingly.

Unfortunately I see this all too seldom in my day-to-day life.

Torra
10-18-2010, 01:48 PM
not walking five abreast so that you take up an entire aisle or sidewalk, not stopping in the middle of a high-traffic area to chat making it difficult for others to get around you.

Does anyone beside me deliberately trip over these people when they also insist on walking slowly enough to get caught in the next Ice Age? This is of course after at least 2 "excuse me"s have been uttered. I know it's not exactly good manners, but it gets me to where I need to be on time!

/threadjack

The 6th Rogue
10-18-2010, 02:15 PM
I'd define manners as being polite. Using please, thank you and excuse me. Being on time, holding a door if someone is right behind you, giving your seat to a pregnant woman or someone who is elderly or disabled, not talking/texting on your cell phone where it's not appropriate, not interrupting when others are speaking, keeping your voice to an appropriate volume, not talking with your mouth full, writing and sending thank you notes for gifts, etc. And to a certain extent also things such as not walking five abreast so that you take up an entire aisle or sidewalk, not stopping in the middle of a high-traffic area to chat making it difficult for others to get around you.

You have no idea how good I've become as subtly aggravating people like that as a form of punishment for their lack of consideration. I ride the train back and forth during the work week and the people that block the doors alone give me sufficient creative and physical exercise as to keep me sharp. I'd thank them but then they wouldn't know what to do with a polite receipt anyway.


Manners is... positively considering the feelings and comfort of those around you, and acting accordingly.

Unfortunately I see this all too seldom in my day-to-day life.

Perfect summation, Phee. Thank you.


To go back to the original post there is one point I'd like to make: this was a Steampunk themed event/gathering/excuse to dress up. I've always felt that when you emulate a time period (Ren Faire, Steampunk, etc) or a culture (any martial arts dojo, etc.) you should also emulate the social norms and expectations as well as the outfits. When in Rome... The Steampunk movement attempts to emulate the late 1800's into the turn of the century. People were polite and women were treated with regard. That meant holding doors, a polite greeting and enquiry into how their day is, offering them a seat and (if one was in a hosting or helping capacity) offering them some refreshment. The same (albeit in a different manner) was offered to male guests. Ren Faires also emulate a time and a culture and the behaviors should go along with.

As for modern day...thanks to the "me movement" of the '80's and also the sense of diminished respect given on all fronts it's a crap shoot. Sadly with a serious emphasis on "crap."

Jamianne
10-18-2010, 03:16 PM
Does anyone beside me deliberately trip over these people when they also insist on walking slowly enough to get caught in the next Ice Age? This is of course after at least 2 "excuse me"s have been uttered. I know it's not exactly good manners, but it gets me to where I need to be on time!

/threadjack

I've always wondered how many "excuse me's" have to be uttered before "Get the f*** out of the way!" becomes acceptable. I love the people who call me a bitch to my face when I raise my voice and say "excuse me" loudly after saying it several times and they still haven't moved. And it's usually when I have the stroller and can't get around them without hitting them with it - a tempting thought sometimes though I'd never actually do it. Though Gwydion asking "Mommy, why is the lady saying bad words? 'Excuse me' is a *nice* word!" shut the last one up real fast.

Lady Hefron
10-18-2010, 09:45 PM
ETA: I have to disagree with Lady Hef, so-called "strict etiquette" is a bad idea, simply because it tends to become classist and those familiar with it can use it to make those unfamiliar with it feel inferior. Strict adherence to etiquette demands, not a prescribed practice or set thereof, but the attitude that one is a part of a whole and one should act to make others feel at ease.

I think some people can use it to be classist, I don't think that it is classist itself.

My Bupchey (grand mother) brought me up on Emily Post and I've tried to conduct myself in a way that always pays respect to both of them. What Emily Post believed and taught was that etiquette was a way to act to make everyone comfortable. One of her favorite stories was about Queen Victoria. At a state dinner one of the important guests (a ruler from someplace, I don't remember where) slurped his tea out of the saucer instead of the cup. Some of the other guests started to stare and comment behind their hands, so Queen Victoria, in order to make this guest feel comfortable, did the same thing. That is my image of etiquette.

ETA: This is one of the reasons I find it so fascinating.

The 6th Rogue
10-18-2010, 11:12 PM
Manners and Etiquette, like any other skill or trained behavior, is a tool that a person can use to achieve their intentions; if that intention is to create comfort or to create distance.

I became a lot more aware of it working for a Japanese owned company for the better part of a decade. As a culture the Japanese are still, for the most part, adhering to strict social rules of behavior and I've seen it used to create instant camaraderie or to immediately establish a pecking order and even a few times to see how it can be used to ostracize someone in short order.

daBaroness
10-18-2010, 11:32 PM
Phee - I loved your definition and embrace it as my own. Simply put - follow the golden rule - do unto others as you'd like to have others do unto you. I think the biggest spoiler of manners is inpatience. We're all in such a hurry and as such have so little patience for others who "get in our way." While I believe many people shouldn't have driver's licenses and too many elderly folk are really beyond the age where they can safely transport themselves, I always try to consider that I don't know the circumstances of those people who are causing *me* an inconvenience. Perhaps they're a stranger in my town, perhaps they're from a small town and big city traffic scares and confuses them; perhaps they're lost - honking and raging at them is both unkind and completely unproductive.

I recently conducted my own little experiment at the hospital where I work - I make my best attempt to greet or at least get eye contact and give a smile to everyone I meet. When people look lost (which is very often in our "village"), I stop and ask if I can direct them. I speak to the elderly and small children. I smile - a lot. And know what? I have not had a single, solidary person meet my greeting with anything but warmth and delight and perhaps surprise - that some stranger extended them a bit of warmth and comfort.

And you know what else? I'm the biggest beneficiary of my own acts of warmth. I feel almost selfish because what I get back - either directly from those individuals I've greeted or helped, or just from inside where I feel I have done a small but good thing - warms me from within. And the best part - is that the positive feedback I get makes me want to extend those kindnesses much further than just my workplace. It heals me and increases my joy. And that's the best thing of all.

Lis Elfwench
10-19-2010, 01:38 AM
To go back to the original post there is one point I'd like to make: this was a Steampunk themed event/gathering/excuse to dress up. I've always felt that when you emulate a time period (Ren Faire, Steampunk, etc) or a culture (any martial arts dojo, etc.) you should also emulate the social norms and expectations as well as the outfits.

Just to clarify, I've read the original complaint thread in the steampunk forum, and this was NOT a "steampunk themed event". This was an ordinary book signing. Because the author writes in a steampunk world, a few of the attendees chose to come in costume, but it was in no means any kind of 'official' steampunk event. To me, this makes the manners completely different. No one was cosplaying or re-enacting any kind of historical time period. They were there to hear the author, and get their books signed by her. Arriving late does not mean that people should disrupt other people's enjoyment of the reading by playing musical chairs for a perfectly fit and healthy person. If you want a seat, arrive early enough to get one; otherwise it's up to you to either stand or arrange seating with the bookstore employees. Likewise, people weren't there to socialize, play, or meet new people. They were there to meet the author, period. It would be friendly while waiting in line to speak to those beside you, but perfectly polite not to. If you yourself WANT to meet people, I feel it's your own responsibility to make yourself approachable by smiling and saying hello - and in this case, she could have complimented one of the other costume-wearers on her costume. She had the wrong set of expectations going in to this thing, and she didn't bother to make the small effect that would have turned her negative experience into a positive one.

And manners aren't dead. Just today, I had a teenaged boy give his seat to me.

Ravin' Raven
10-19-2010, 10:12 AM
What is a shame to me is that, anymore, I am more surprised by people who DO have manners than those who do not.

And don't get me started on how people treat me because of my size. I can't imagine being a little person. It's bad enough just to be littler than average. I get bowled over and stepped on all the time - I once had a huge man push right past me to get through a door. My sister in law just looked shocked saying "did he really just push you out of the way?"

My current favorite mechanism of dealing is to loudly declare "No. Excuse Meeeeeeeee."

And I agree that I do not prefer treatment because I am a fragile little woman on certain things but it bothers me that the two teenaged girls taking up a whole bench waiting at a restaurant a few weeks ago did not allow several much older ladies to sit down.

Lady Hefron
10-19-2010, 07:55 PM
And I agree that I do not prefer treatment because I am a fragile little woman on certain things but it bothers me that the two teenaged girls taking up a whole bench waiting at a restaurant a few weeks ago did not allow several much older ladies to sit down.

Ah, yeah, see this is where I have to step out of my normally polite self and say something to them. I have had to do this several times (sometimes for myself because I am handicapped). I give them the "Excuse me, but can you please move so that the Old Lady can sit down". It mostly works, usually because the people around us join in.

The 6th Rogue
10-20-2010, 02:27 PM
Just to clarify, I've read the original complaint thread in the steampunk forum, and this was NOT a "steampunk themed event". This was an ordinary book signing. Because the author writes in a steampunk world, a few of the attendees chose to come in costume, but it was in no means any kind of 'official' steampunk event.

I sit corrected. Thank you.

As for the two girls that didn't get up: teens have always been the group with the most expected of them and the least resulted from. I remember being a teen and being very annoyed that everyone had varying expectations of what I was supposed to do or say. I got very good at being polite but also dropping in left handed commentary as much as possible. If some of the crowd is laughing with you it's easier to cope with the ones that aren't.