A lady always shows respect and consideration for others while placing a premium on honesty and graciousness. A lady also knows how her individual choices may affect others and how easy it is to choose words and actions more wisely. If you missed out on cotillion as a child, I think it best to invest in an etiquette book. ‘Emily Post’s Book of Etiquette’ is great to look up and source any question you might have and a perfect addition to any Lady’s Library. In the meantime here are my top 10 tips for being a lady in modern day society.
1. Follow Through – Nobody likes a flaky person. Regardless of how busy your life has become with commitments to your Husband and Children, you should never agree to take on more than you can handle i.e.… rsvp-ing to events, lunches with friends or other engagements. When receiving an invitation, contemplate if you’ll be exhausted from a busy day and politely decline. Many people re-arrange their schedules and look forward to plans and get upset with last minute cancellations. If a cancellation is necessary, be sincere in your apology and reschedule as soon as possible.
2. Phone Etiquette – Calls should only be placed between the hours of 9:00am – 10:00pm. Try to make a habit of returning calls within 24 hours of getting the message. When taking calls on your cell phone do consider other around you, keep conversations short and never discuss private matters in public. Your cell phone should remain in your purse and never be taken out during a meal. If need be excuse yourself from the table to check in with babysitters or any other emergencies. When in theatres or performances turn your phone to silent or off and avoid texting. Texting is extremely rude when in the presence of others.
3. Dressing Like a Lady – A lady always leaves something to the imagination, which is why one should choose to show a little leg or instead decide to accentuate your décolletage. When sitting down always cross your legs or ankles to avoid nearby peeping toms; it’s also important to practice getting in and out of cars without flashing the valet. (http://www.videojug.com/film/how-to-get-out-of-a-car-without-showing-your-knickers) Take the time to learn which dress codes are appropriate for certain occasions, for example if your invitation calls for “Cocktail Attire”, “Black Tie” or “White Tie,” would you know what is appropriate to wear? (Dress Code Guide: http://www.taryncoxthewife.com/?s=dress+code)
4. It’s The Little Things – When a guest enters your home, do you offer them a glass of water or beverage of their choice? When arranging for a dinner party, do you remember if one of your dinner guests has a gluten allergy? When selecting a gift, is it something your friend mentioned they wanted? Just as a gentlemen would offer his coat if you were showing signs of being cold is how you should pay attention to small details. It’s a great way to show the people around you how much you care and are listening. Go the distance to make the people in your life feel incredibly special.
5. Always The Gracious Guest – Whether you have been invited over to a someone’s home for a dinner party, movie screening or cocktails, Never show up without a hostess gift. The gesture can be as small as a bottle of wine or dessert to as grand as having a flower arrangement delivered.
6. A Mouth from The South – This is easy and won’t cost you a dime. Make a conscious effort to avoid using profanity. Every once in a blue moon I can appreciate good use of the F word to really drive a point across, but when in public lets keep it clean!
7. The Art of Conversation - When being introduced to someone try to repeat their name out loud so it won’t escape your brain as easily. If you’re at a small soiree do your best to socialize with each person, making everyone feel comfortable and included. When engaged in a conversation remember to listen well and show your interest in what others are speaking about. Try to avoid topics that will engage arguments like politics, sex and money. Other important things to remember: always accept a compliment, never flirt inappropriately and what you say can never be un-said.
8. A Lady at The Table – As a lady the first action one should take when sitting down to the table is to put your napkin in your lap; when you’re finished your napkin gets placed next to your plate, never on top. Your mother was right with the never changing rule of…. No elbows on the table. When being served always ask for food to be passed to you than trying to reach for it. When the meal is done never apply lipstick at the table, instead excuse yourself to the ladies room.
9. Merci– A lady always writes thoughtful handwritten thank you notes for gifts received and other kind acts of generosity, for example when someone goes out of their way to make special arrangements or plans for you. Thank you notes may not be eagerly awaited, but it’s something that should be expected and most likely noticed in their absence. If you want to go the extra mile, call your host the next day to say what a great time you had.
10. Gossip Girl – This happens to be one thing every women is guilty of doing. Let’s face it – avoiding gossiping can be hard, but is this the way you want to spend your time? Be aware of people who gossip the most. Eventually the people doing the gossiping will eventually come to gossip about you, when your not there to defend yourself. If you fail the next time you hear gossip and find yourself repeating it, try changing the topic of conversation. With practice it will get easier.
Taryn Cox for THE WIFE
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Taryn is a domestic expert. Visit her website here.