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View Full Version : Minding Other People's Manners: When and How Is It Okay?



FlaGator
05-15-2010, 04:19 PM
I have a friend that has a problem with publically correcting other people's grammar and other social faux pas'. We discussed the etiquette of it and I was searching the internet when I stumbled across this and thought that I would post it. The link is at the bottom but I've included the whole article. I direct this to no one in particular because I wouldn't want to be in the ironic position of correcting someone in public by using a story about the etiquette of correcting people in public. ;)


Anyone who takes it upon him- or herself to correct the manners of others in public makes me nervous. It seems that people have taken to correcting the mistakes of others into their own hands. The question is: Why are so many people anxious to do this? Have things turned so ugly in our society that we feel it necessary to not only confront but also comment? Do we really feel that correcting others will improve their behavior?

Manners aren't what they used to be, but pointing out someone's social errors is bad manners. Further, commenting on a person's minor gaffes, such as imperfect grammar, wrong word choices, or poor table manners crosses the politeness line and, frankly, shows a lack of social skills.
When our mothers told us to mind our manners, I don't think they meant "and everyone else's manners as well!" Consider this quote from Emily Post: "Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use."

When is it all right to ask someone to change their behavior in public? If someone is talking so loudly on a cell phone or in a movie theatre that it is truly disturbing you, it is all right to politely ask that person to talk more quietly or turn off his or her phone. Last month, on board an Amtrak train, a woman seated in front of me was on her cell phone with the speaker on (she did not have a private sleeping car). The entire train car could hear dual conversations. I politely asked her to mute the call, which she did without hesitation or apology. Did I want to hand her my business card? You bet, but doing so would have been bad manners on my part. Now I use that situation as an example so others can learn from her mistake.

But attempting to correct other kinds of public behavior is simply unwise. Would you confront a homeless person on the street whom you saw urinating in front of a storefront? What if you saw someone on the street screaming into his phone or at another person? While these things are offensive, they are best left to those who are trained to deal with them, as the reactions of some people can be dangerous.

John D. Rockefeller said, "The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee and I will pay more for that ability than any other under the sun." His words speak of tact and consideration. Hard as it may be for some, the ability to get along with others, to demonstrate good manners, and to make other people feel comfortable is how we behave in a polite society. What we say and how we say it speaks volumes and can heighten or dim an image in an instant!

Tact, as defined by Webster's, means "accentuating the positive," especially when correcting the mistakes of employees. For instance, you might say: "There seems to be a discrepancy" rather than "You've made a big mistake!" In other words, try the pedagogical approach of asking someone to find his own errors rather than hitting him over the head with his mistakes. For example, "Have you checked out such and such?" or "I get a different conclusion or different numbers in the report than you do." Choosing courteous words will help you project your image as a pleasant and considerate person.

The same goes for dealing with people you don't know in public. Not only are you more likely to get a good result if you treat others politely, you will avoid being chastised (or worse, verbally attacked) by them for your remarks.

Our first President's book on public manners stands the test of time. George Washington's book entitled Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior In Company and Conversation discusses how to treat others in social relations and practice self-control. Three rules stand out:

1. No. 49: Use no reproachful language against anyone; neither curse nor revile.

2. No. 59: Never express anything unbecoming nor act against the rules moral before your inferiors.

3. No. 81: Be not curious to know the affairs of others; never approach those that speak in private.

Courteous behavior is not rocket science. Focus on those three magic phrases we learned as children and use them often: Please, may I, and thank you. In other words, think before you speak.


Found it here (http://www.etiquettebag.com/article.asp?articleid=80664&Minding-Other-Peoples-Manners-When-and-How-Is-It-Okay)

Articulate_Ape
05-15-2010, 04:36 PM
You used ellipses when you should have used colons. I'm just sayin'.

Bubba Dawg
05-15-2010, 05:29 PM
You used ellipses when you should have used colons. I'm just sayin'.

Nice. :D

FlaGator
05-15-2010, 05:36 PM
You used ellipses when you should have used colons. I'm just sayin'.

I don't think I used either.

Rockntractor
05-15-2010, 05:41 PM
Isn't a colon an asshole?:confused:

Bubba Dawg
05-15-2010, 05:42 PM
Isn't a colon an asshole?:confused:

In most people. Poli is just a semi-colon though.

Rockntractor
05-15-2010, 05:45 PM
In most people. Poli is just a semi-colon though.

I get it, kind of a half assed asshole!:D

Bubba Dawg
05-15-2010, 06:44 PM
I get it, kind of a half assed asshole!:D

Not quite as full of s**t as some people. :D

lacarnut
05-15-2010, 07:28 PM
I have a friend that has a problem with publically correcting other people's grammar and other social faux pas'. [/URL]

First off, this type of person could never be my friend. People that feel that they are intellectually superior and have the need to correct others have a few screws loose and are unhappy souls. If I was at a meeting or a gathering when this person got on its high horse, I would call him or her on it in a nice way that would be embarrassing to that person. Addressing this person as Mr or Mrs perfect a few times might do the trick. If that did not work, I would take it up a notch as Emeril Lagassi would say.

Rockntractor
05-15-2010, 08:03 PM
First off, this type of person could never be my friend. People that feel that they are intellectually superior and have the need to correct others have a few screws loose and are unhappy souls. If I was at a meeting or a gathering when this person got on its high horse, I would call him or her on it in a nice way that would be embarrassing to that person. Addressing this person as Mr or Mrs perfect a few times might do the trick. If that did not work, I would take it up a notch as Emeril Lagassi would say.

Usually people that do this feel very inadequate in other ways and they are trying to compensate.

lacarnut
05-15-2010, 08:51 PM
Usually people that do this feel very inadequate in other ways and they are trying to compensate.

Very true. Add snooty, high brow, egotisticial pricks to that mix.

Rockntractor
05-15-2010, 08:57 PM
Very true. Add snooty, high brow, egotisticial pricks to that mix.
When I worked for many years as a toolmaker I made double what the secretaries made in the offices but I never went into the office and called them stupid. I had math, trig and geometry skills and they excelled in grammar , typing and English. We chose our positions and did them to the best of our ability. The women that chose to work in the shop made the same as the men did in the machine positions.

RobJohnson
05-16-2010, 01:50 PM
Usually people that do this feel very inadequate in other ways and they are trying to compensate.

Small privates? :p

noonwitch
05-17-2010, 10:14 AM
It's always appropriate for an adult to correct a youth's manners, that's just the way of things.


Otherwise, I say live and let live, as long as it doesn't mean I have to tolerate people spraying food or spit at me when they are talking to me. Then, I'm going to have to say something.

Gingersnap
05-17-2010, 10:37 AM
It's important to remember that when George Washington and Emily Post and all the rest were writing about manners, they were talking about a general population who may not have known "the right thing to do" but it was also a population who was convinced there was a right thing to do.

Today we have a number of otherwise educated people who sincerely believe that their comfort and convenience trumps any situation.

I'd say that taking a person aside in private and explaining cell phone usage or basic table manners is okay if you have to be around that person day in and day out.

One of the reasons that public offenses committed by strangers are so common now is that we're afraid of "judging" and we're afraid of confrontation. Back 40 or 50 years ago a urinating drunk would have been subject to jeers and critiques from passers-by and the police would have had no problem hauling the guy off.

Now, no one will say anything (which encourages antisocial behavior) and the police don't get involved.

NJCardFan
05-17-2010, 11:06 AM
I make no bones about pointing out people's lack of manners. You want to see me in action? Cut in front of me in a line.

Articulate_Ape
05-17-2010, 02:47 PM
I don't think I used either.

Lies!

FlaGator
05-17-2010, 02:54 PM
Lies!

But I thought that there is no absolute truth so there are no lies, just my truth and your truth. ;)

NJCardFan
05-17-2010, 02:58 PM
It's important to remember that when George Washington and Emily Post and all the rest were writing about manners, they were talking about a general population who may not have known "the right thing to do" but it was also a population who was convinced there was a right thing to do.

Today we have a number of otherwise educated people who sincerely believe that their comfort and convenience trumps any situation.

I'd say that taking a person aside in private and explaining cell phone usage or basic table manners is okay if you have to be around that person day in and day out.

One of the reasons that public offenses committed by strangers are so common now is that we're afraid of "judging" and we're afraid of confrontation. Back 40 or 50 years ago a urinating drunk would have been subject to jeers and critiques from passers-by and the police would have had no problem hauling the guy off.

Now, no one will say anything (which encourages antisocial behavior) and the police don't get involved.
The problem today is the "me" society we live in. People just don't care anymore. It's "I do what I want to do when I want to do and screw everyone else" attitudes that is rampant in our society. And it's everywhere. It makes me laugh when I ask someone not to talk on their cell phone during a movie and having that person act like I'm putting them out instead of annoying an entire theater full of customers. I mean, what has happened to common courtesy? Then you have people who allow their kids to run around like animals in restaurants or stores or wherever.

FlaGator
05-17-2010, 04:37 PM
The problem today is the "me" society we live in. People just don't care anymore. It's "I do what I want to do when I want to do and screw everyone else" attitudes that is rampant in our society. And it's everywhere. It makes me laugh when I ask someone not to talk on their cell phone during a movie and having that person act like I'm putting them out instead of annoying an entire theater full of customers. I mean, what has happened to common courtesy? Then you have people who allow their kids to run around like animals in restaurants or stores or wherever.

I try to deal with things I consider social faux pas in private whenever possible. I consider spelling and grammar on the internet to fall under this heading. You are absolutely right about the me generation. A person's own petty desires and issue seem to trump good manners. No one thinks about others anymore. They just do what they feel and to hell with the rest. They seem to think that their rights are more important than anyone elses like the rest of us are just extras in the movie of their life. Generally when this happens, I often opt to make my role in their movie more of a cameo appearance.