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There’s an unwritten code of social graces that somehow gets passed on from generation to generation, to which most people follow. It’s an easy, simple action-reaction type of code. One example — if someone does something for you, you thank them. Easy, right?
So you’d think. But lately I’m finding that as the generations continue, the manners link becomes weaker, and many people have no clue how to behave in social situations. I’m no old-fashioned, fuddy-duddy, nor am I a stickler for tradition — it’s just basic common courtesy that seems to be lacking.
Recently, I attended a celebration where I was one of the first few guests to arrive. Upon entering the party venue, a small group of guests were already standing around talking. They glanced in my general direction, but, realizing that they didn’t “know” me, they continued with their own conversation.
No hello, no nod of acknowledgment, nothing. I was taken aback. Was I at a high school dance? No, these people were all over 30. I chalked it up to “clique-centricity” and plonked down at the bar. A few minutes later, another woman arrived. I looked her way, smiled and said hello. She stared at me like a deer caught in car headlights, and slinked over to the foursome where she obviously knew someone.
And that’s how the party went: nobody talked to anyone they didn’t already know, which, in my humble opinion, defeats the whole purpose of a party. Isn’t the point of getting a large group of people together to get people together?!?
As you can see, it got me thinking.
This isn’t an etiquette lesson, nor do I wish to be referred to as a would-be Miss Manners, but here are some basic social skills that everyone should at least be aware of:
- If you receive a telephone message, an e-mail, or a letter from someone you know, it’s proper to acknowledge it by communicating back — usually in the same manner.
- When somebody goes out of their way for you — does you a favour, connects you with someone else, etc. — it’s proper to thank them, even with just a phone call.
- I recognize it can be difficult to keep abreast of every commemorative day, especially if you have a large extended family, but for immediate family members, like parents, siblings, partners and children, it’s lazy and uncaring not to acknowledge birthdays. A card, an e-mail, a phone call — something to let that person know you’re thinking of them.
- When you receive a gift, it is always recommended to say thank you. Again, whether you bother with hand-written thank you cards, or a simple phone call, it doesn’t matter. Just make sure you let that person know that you appreciate their thoughtfulness.