July 25, 2014

Keeping it Real

Katie and I grew up with parents that heavily stressed good manners.

We were taught to shake someone's hand (with a good, firm grip), look them in the eye and address them as Mr. or Mrs. until we were told otherwise.

We answered the telephone with a script, "Wilson residence, Regan speaking". 

We wrote thank you notes. 

We said please and thank you. 

We sat up straight without our elbows on the table (most of the time).

We asked to be excused.

We cleared our plates and put them in the dishwasher. 

My question is this, when did it become socially acceptable to be rude and disrespectful? Is it just me or have good manners become a thing of the past? This topic is on my brain because I drill into the Mini Fashionista on a daily, hourly, minutely (is that a word?) basis the importance of nice manners.

Just last week we were driving to an appointment and there was an unusual amount of traffic which was going to cause me to be about 5-10 minutes late. So I picked up my phone and called to let them know that I was going to be late. The Mini asked me "mommy, why did you say you are sorry? We only say sorry when we hit". Well yes, apologizing after hitting is important, but that is not the only time (the conversation went on).

While five minutes is a somewhat insignificant period of time, it's not really about the time. It's about having the courtesy to appreciate that everyone's time is precious and be respectful of that.

I'd like to make a few of my own observations about manners, or lack there of. And please remember, I do not admit to being perfect (Emily Post would surely have some suggestions), but I do make a concerted effort. And, I respect the fact that not everyone will agree with me on this topic.

1. It is not okay to leave a phone call/voicemail unanswered. EVER. Be it personal or professional. One of my biggest pet peeves during my time at Nike was this exact problem. Call people back.

2. Make introductions. If you are in a social setting and two people are not acquainted, introduce them as soon as possible.

3. Ask nicely. Say thank you.

4. Write thank you notes. If someone goes out of their way for you, hosts you for a dinner, makes a kind gesture, or gives you a gift, write a hand written note. Not a text. Not an email. A note. With pen and paper.

5. Write a thank you note(s) after an interview. If you really want a job, you should have enough time and motivation to do this.

6. Look people in the eye. Why is it that so many people cannot have an eye to eye conversation? I can't tell you how many times recently I have been talking to someone and they can't look me in the eye.

7. Shake hands when you meet someone. And please, please don't have a limp hand shake. There is nothing worse than a limp grip.

8. Don't be late. And if you are going to be late, pick up the phone and call, or at least, send a text. Be respectful of other people's time.

9. If someone has food in their teeth, tell them...likewise, if their underwear is caught in their skirt, they really should know.

10. And finally, put down the phone. I am writing this to tell myself as much as I am hoping to tell others. It is rude to constantly look at your phone as if there is something more important than the person/people in your company. Engage with them as if they matter. Because they do.

I believe that good manners begin at a young age. Children with bad manners are simply a result of parents with bad manners. As a parent, one of the best gifts you can give to your children is that of manners. Teach them young, and it will surely carry into their adult life and serve them well.

And may I say, thank you for reading.


  1. This is a fabulous post!! Great list!
    I feel so sad for people when they have bad manners. I'm not saying I'm perfect but I really do despise when someone pays more attention to an inanimate object {a phone} than they do to a real person. Such a shame that so much communication is done without face to face interactions.
    Thanks for a great post :)

  2. thank you so much for this post. i am guilty of reading my phone all the time and being late to things. i'm working on it, though.