Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Etiquette For Social Situations: Who Goes First in a Revolving Door and the Lost Art of Other Gentlemanly Gestures

Last night my husband and I were in Manhattan for dinner with another couple. As we were entering the hotel where the dinner was to be held, the question came up about who goes first in a revolving door: the man or the woman. I'd never thought about and and promised to investigate. In our case, the husband of the other couple went first and he thought that was correct since males are usually physically stronger, and have an easier time getting the door spinning.

He was exactly right according to tradition and Peggy Post (great granddaughter-in-law of the venerable Emily Post) and while this is still a courteous thing to do, some of today's women would prefer to get the door moving themselves not to appear helpless. It's OK to do either but not OK to embarrass a man or woman who would prefer to get the door started themselves. Some variations are: Man and man: Whoever arrives first goes first. If you arrive together, the man who is younger would let the elder man go first, unless the elder man needed assistance with the door. Woman and woman: Whoever arrives first goes first. If one of the women is elderly and needs assistance, the younger woman goes first to push the door. Adult and child: The adult goes first. Boss and employee: The higher ranking person enters first.

It got me to thinking about other rules of etiquette so I investigated further. Here are some rules, antiquated perhaps,  and often forgotten:

No cursing in public
Swearing is a big no-no. It shows that you don't have the vocabulary to express your thoughts appropriately. Furthermore, it is always very crude and impolite to be vulgar. Good luck with that one!

Speak softly in public
When you speak loudly, it raises the stress level among others in earshot. It always implies that you can't reason with people and also draws negative attention. This is particularly true on public transportation.

Hold your temper
When you lose your temper it implies that you can't control your emotions. If you can't even control yourself, then how can you possibly control anything else? Keep your cool and people will take positive note of your levelheadedness.

Do not stare
Ogling someone is the equivalent of psychological aggression. You don't want to intimidate people for no reason.

Do not interrupt
Let people finish what they are saying before adding your comments. Interrupting others is a sign of poor etiquette and a lack of social skills. If you want to come across as egotistical, you can do so by constantly interrupting.

Do not spit
A lot of men do this almost subconsciously. Spitting is very crude and not pretty to look at. Do not spit in public unless you want to look like you were raised in a sewer.

Respect your elders
In fact, you should respect all others as you would like them to respect you.

Do not laugh at others' mistakes
This is one of the cruelest things you can do. The last thing anyone wants is ridicule.

Remove your hat indoors
This rule seems to have gone out the window. You should remove your hat upon entering a building. Additionally, keeping your hat on while at the dinner table reflects very poor etiquette.

Wait for all to be seated before eating
When sitting down for a meal, you should wait until all the guests are properly seated and ready to commence the meal before eating. Everyone should start dining at the same time; this is a subtle but very important rule.

Open doors for others
This is perhaps the most basic rule of male etiquette out there. It is also one of the easiest to follow so you have no reason to forget it. Whether a female is about to enter your car, restaurant, club, or anyplace with a door, you should always hold it open. If there are many doors, then hold them open one after the other. Variations: Man and man: Again, the person who arrives first opens the door and holds it, unless one of the men happens to be elderly or his arms are full with packages. Woman and woman: Same as man-man. Man who insists on opening the door for a woman: The woman may think the courtesy is dated, but it's still a courtesy. She should say, "Thank you." Elderly person and younger adult: The more capable person opens the door. Boss and employee: Rank does apply here. Junior executives open doors for senior executives. If your boss happens to reach for the door ahead of you, be gracious, don't fight over who gets to open door and remember to say, "Thank you."

Put on her coat
Help a lady to put on her coat is a simple but powerful action.

Help with her seat
If an unaccompanied lady is sitting next to you, it is important that you help her be seated by pulling her chair out for her and gently pushing it back into place, with the lady seated of course.

Give up your seat
If a lady arrives at the table and there are no available seats, you should stand up and offer yours to her.

There are lots more but the above are often neglected in social situations today.

But the revolving door etiquette has been cleared up!

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