When the subject of manners and etiquette comes up is seems that the use of cutlery is the main focus. At Social Arts Atlanta, we hear the following a lot:
I never remember what fork to use!
I am always scared I am going to use the wrong spoon.
The truth is you do not have to know which fork to use. In fact, you will never know all the “rules” of etiquette. These customs and rules change over time.
However, what we all can learn is that giving attention to others instead of focusing on ourselves will nearly always lead us in the correct direction. Here are some examples:
Responding to Invitations: You may be busy but taking the time to let the host know you are coming or not coming to a gathering will ensure that there is enough food and drink for everyone attending and perhaps even enough places for all the guests to sit down.
Writing Thank You Notes: It is always nice to sent a note of thanks for a kindness. It is particularly important for gifts that are sent and that you do not open in front of the giver. If you do not sent a note or a message in another way, how will they know that you received it?
Cell Phones In Public: Cell phones have become an important part of all of our lives. However, the world should not be a part of every conversation you make. Hearing private information can make people around you uncomfortable and could possibly give information to someone who should not have it. Also, the person checking you out of the grocery or doctor’s office can do so more quickly if you give them all of your attention. This helps not only the clerk but also there person after you.
If you remember the words of Emily Post you will likely always figure out what to do.
Consideration for the rights and feelings of others…, the very foundation upon which social life is built.
P.S. For dining, always work from the outside in. It is your host’s job to consider you and place the utensels in the correct order according to what is being served.
Registration is now open for the Summer/Fall Semester Social Arts 101. This class for grades 6th – 8th covers important basics of social navigation and social dances. Limited class size and hands-on exercises made this class the place to get comfortable with the uncomfortable and have a good time doing it. Give your child the tools to meet success with a class from Social Arts Atlanta.
Curriculum details, class dates and registration instructions are available here.
If a label would offend a stranger, don’t use it for a friend.
Language is a powerful tool. Words impart information to others, set the mood and even makes us laugh.
There are also lots of words that are used to make people feel set apart and less than.
Interestingly, many of us that would be angered and offended by a stranger using one of these words, use the very same words for ourselves and friends.
Here is an example that occurs with young women. Most women would not stand for a stranger calling them “whore”, “slut” or “bitch.” Yet will refer to themselves and friends by these labels in texts and group chats, even in person. Some people may respond with, “don’t be so uptight,” “that doesn’t mean anything, it is just a joke!”
Well, maybe, but it normalizes the language bit by bit. Just like that poor frog in the pot of boiling water. The water temperature gradually changes and therefore feels normal to the frog. So, it just gets cooked. Similarly, if you repeatedly hear and use derogatory terms with your friends, how long does it take you to use them for or accept them from those that are not? All the while, there is a trail of the word’s original insulting aim.
Other terms fall into this same pattern include; “fag,” “nigger,” “rag head.” Can they really ever lose all of their mal intention even when they are commandeered by the group that that was first meant to be demeaned?
While it is true that the use of these words can change as time and culture evolve, we can and should choose not to use them for either stranger or friend.
Another time, I opened a door for a stranger.
– Ethan Collins, SAA Student
In order to ensure that we are making a difference to the families that we serve, we ask for feedback on how students are using the skills that we teach. When asked how he used what he learned in Social Arts 101, Mr. Collins said that he helped a lady with her chair and opened a door for a stranger. These are two pretty simple acts, nice things, things that required attention to the needs of others.
Kudo’s to Mr. Collins for not perpetuating the self-centered stereotype of adolescents! We are happy to be a part of developing your awareness of others.
I was introduced to a co-worker of my Father’s and when I shook his hand, I had a firm shake and I used eye contact. After I shook his hand, he commented on how well I introduced myself.
-Erin Iverson, Peer Chaperon
A firm hand shake and eye contact are two elements of a good introduction that are taught in Social Arts 101 and continue to be practiced in Social Arts 102.
Introductions are first impressions and a genuine and confident presence is very important. Knowing the skills (hands web to web, make eye contact and three firm and gentle pumps) and practicing them is a sure way to a good first impression even in an uneasy situation.
I think the best thing is the atmosphere that you provide. It is comfortable and easier to learn new things in a place like this.
-Erin Iverson, Pear Chaperon
During the first lesson of Social Arts 102, the students were asked to give feedback about the best part of taking 101. Ms. Iverson who acts as a Peer Chaperon for Social Arts Atlanta chose to participate in the activity and wrote the quote above. We are grateful for her compliment.
One of the goals of all of Social Arts Classes is to create an environment where students feel comfortable to learn, make mistakes, practice and improve without feeling judged or belittled. From the response we received from Ms. Iverson, we are reaching this goal.
I remember noticing a difference in my conversations after the class…my general conversation has improved.
-Kiera McManus, SAA Student
This quote is from a student who attended Social Arts 101. She gave us great feedback about attending the class and is now part of our Social Arts 102 group. During the first session of 102, we asked that the students write responses to the following.
Tell us a story of how you used your 101 skills.
What was the best thing about 101 and what was missing?
What social skill would you like to improve during 102?
She let us know that she liked learning about making introductions and asked that we do more practice of dining skills. She requested that we make sure to work on conversation skills during 102. What is good about Ms. McManus’ responses is that she is looking forward to practicing more during 102 and improving on what she has already learned.