20 July 2006

Top Four Rules of Social Ettiquette

. . . in other words, people who break these rules irritate me. This was going to be a top ten list, but then I realized there aren't that many things that really irritate me. This is probably a good thing.

1. Never open with "Are you busy?" when asking for a favor or date. This rule is not nearly well known enough, and whenever I am confronted by it, I just want to scream. When you begin this way, the person is left with no graceful way to back out of your request. I mean, ideally, we would always help others out and accept every date we're asked on, but there are some very valid reasons to reject either one. And, since you've already determined they aren't busy, the only other way to reject your offer is to tell you that they don't want to go out with you or help you. So unless you are trying to find out if the other person really doesn't like you, leave the back gate open by mentioning the activity first and the time later.

2. Open doors for women, but not just because they told you to. There is a certain spirit of door opening that has been lost due to the masses of males attempting to follow the letter of the door-opening law (especially in the BYU environment). The reason men are supposed to open doors for women is not because we are too delicate/weak to open them ourselves, but to show thoughtfulness and to make the evening (or morning, or afternoon) flow more easily for the woman. In essence, you are trying to keep her mind off of such mundane things as opening doors and more on you. Thus, if you insist on opening doors, do it like a butler--that is, before she realizes that you are doing it. Be there before she goes to reach for the door handle. If a woman has to wait while you amble around the car and open her door what seems like an eternity later, she's thinking more about this whole door opening thing than she is about you. If you can't get there fast enough, just let her open the door, and be more aware next time.

3. If your cell phone rings while you are with company, answer it but get off as soon as possible. Nothing is more irritating to the real people sitting next to you than being pushed aside for some immaterial voice. If they have any manners (or curiousity), it will be fairly difficult to continue with normal conversation whilst you gab away. And text messaging counts, people. Treat it exactly as you would if someone knocked on your door while you were at home with some friends. Answer the call, and let your caller know exactly where you are and what you are doing. If the call demands urgent attention, explain the situation to your company and excuse yourself. If not, ask the person to either come join the group in person or call back later.

4. If you are unsure of someone's name, ask it before you start talking. This is the only one of these rules I admit to being fairly terrible at. Case in point: one time at a ward activity, I was chatting to some guy who I happened to be next to in the line for refreshments. We kept talking and a little while later he asked me to go see a movie with him. Being new in the ward, I had no idea what the guy's name was and was thoroughly embarassed to have to look him up in the ward directory later. However much awkwardness it causes, always make sure of the person's name as soon as possible in a conversation. It will save you an infinitely greater amount of awkwardness later.


Not Too Pensive said...

Regarding the door thing - things like that make it hard as a man.

I'm from the south, which means I'm hard-wired to be a gentleman - I open doors, when I was single I always insisted on paying for dates, and do all the rest. But so many women react negatively to it! It's AMAZING to have someone give you a mean look because you dared to open a door for them! Or even look at you like a creep, as if opening a door was an attempt to flirth with them when I'm obviously married. Guess what, ladies, it's not flirting, it's chivalry - men do that from time to time. If you can't find one that does it, well, that's just too bad for you.

Sorry to rant, but it does get to me...

Liz Muir said...

I recognize that, but there's a point of excess. A friend of mine had a boyfriend who would get absolutely livid if she opened the door for herself, which I find ridiculuous. Yes, open it when you can, but don't make it inconvinient for her. It should be unremarkable chivalry, almost unnoticeable, not a clumsy tradition.

Not Too Pensive said...

I agree - the point of chivalry is to make things easier for the lady, not the other way around. In a situation where there's a little buffer room (i.e. most building on campus, I assume this is for heating/air conditioning purposes) I generally open an outer set of doors without being too concerned about the inner set (although I do jokingly call them anti-chivalry doors), and I usually will do this if I notice that a woman is coming behind me and I see that I'll reach the door before her. The point is to help, not to inconvenience.

My comments are aimed at those who don't take any assistance at all, or see any assistance - even something as opening a door when they're a few paces in front and waiting, or allowing a lady to go first - as some personal affront or "flirting" unnecessarily. Please...