Good manners are always in style

Justice Simango

THIS topic has been on my mind for months now. It’s a little bit difficult to address this motion without yelling all in capital letters. But hey it turns out that, truth is better told than kept. Vintage jeans may fade away but courtesy and good manners never go out of style.

Last weekend, my friend and I went for lunch at a local pub and restaurant and as usual we both removed our hats upon entering the restaurant. Well, this has always been the norm although others are fine with hats indoors.

We immediately located our sitting positions and we placed an order. As my friend and I were waiting for our meal to be served, a young gentleman walked into the restaurant putting on a sports cap. He never bothered to remove the cap, until a lady from the guest relations politely approached and told him to remove the cap. In response, the gentlemen arrogantly twisted the cap and the front faced backwards.

I thought to myself maybe the young man was hiding a spot on his head, or it was just a bad hair day for him. The lady from guest relations went back to the gentleman again and told him that hats and caps were not allowed inside the restaurant for the sake of closed circuit TVs (CCTVs).

To be honest, that reason never crossed my mind at that time because wearing of hats indoors has always been considered rude for decades now, although exceptions have been set aside for women. Despite good manners remaining in style while other practices slide on the leeway, there are still some old rules that need to be revisited. Many of the etiquette rules were created for a reason that no longer exists; while others simply need to be tweaked.

The act of a man removing his hat began when head covers were worn to protect people’s eyes from the dust and dirt outdoors. Men put their hats on a rack by the door to prevent the dirt from falling on the floor inside the house. It was advised that, when a man removes his hat or cap he should make sure that the outside always faces the person in front of him and not the inside. You could do this by removing your hat and place it across your chest or on your knee with the inside facing towards you.

Now that both men and women wear hats for fashion as much as sun protection, it is difficult to rule out wearing of hats indoors. However, there are still some people who hold onto that outdated rule and expect a gentleman to remove his hat. It’s up to you whether or not you want to embrace the old rule, but it’s always a good idea to show respect for the sensibilities of others.

After the scene, my friend and I began to talk about some of the etiquette contradictions that appear old fashioned and no longer applicable while the opposite is true for other professionals.

We noted that the old policy of men opening and holding doors for women has all but disappeared. However, some men still like doing it — either because their mamas taught them that’s what gentlemen do, they want to take the extra step to show good manners.

Ladies, most people know that you can open your own doors, but try to refrain from making a big deal out of it. When a stranger opens the door for you, smile and thank him. After all he feels like he’s doing a nice thing. If it’s someone you know, have a private conversation and let him know that you prefer opening your own doors. Or perhaps you can agree for the first one who arrives at the door to be the one who opens it. It gives you a chance to do something nice for him in return.

Apart from that, I feel tables have turned and modern professionals would agree that it no longer matters who picks up the tab. Gone are the days when men were always expected to pick up the tab when dining out or going to the movies with a woman. Back in the day, many women didn’t work, or if they did, they were stuck in much lower paying jobs. Now that women are equally prominent in the workplace, many of them can pay their own way.

Sometimes that’s easier than asking to split the bill. Another way of handling this is that the person who does the inviting pays. The risk here is that one person may take the initiative more often than the other. Nonetheless, some people feel that if they pay the whole tab, the other person owes them something. That’s not the case. Paying the bill should come without ties or obligations. If you’re unsure about what to do, there is nothing wrong with discussing it before you’re put in an embarrassing situation. You can say, “My treat,” or “Let’s pay our own way so we can do this more often”.

It wasn’t long enough before we were served. The fish was delicious but the aroma was immediately saturated with cigarette pollution that was coming from outside. Some guests were smoking just outside the building. Long ago it was okay to smoke indoors as long as you asked permission of the host.

Now, most people wouldn’t even think about smoking in someone else’s home, which is a good thing because it saturates the air with all sorts of toxins that can shorten your life and make those around you very sick. If you must smoke, take it outside far away from where people will be.

A trend that is seemingly used regularly by both the young and the old when greeting each other is the fist-bump. The bump is fine in lieu of a handshake.

This is especially true during cold and flu season so you don’t wind up spreading germs or getting sick. Other people extend their lower arm for a handshake if their hands are dirty. I see nothing wrong with these greeting gestures but one should bear in mind that, a professional style of greeting is a web to web handshake that will always be in style.

Good manners should be more about showing respect for others than following rules just because they’re written in an etiquette book. However, if you like the traditional manners guidelines, by all means, continue following them.

Justice Simango is a Business Etiquette and Grooming Consultant who writes in his own capacity. He is a member of Toastmasters International.

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  • Wisetta Dolsey

    Good manners never go out of style. Opening doors and removing hats is just respectful.