As a nation, we Britons have long been proud of our ways. We are, supposedly, polite species that keep doors open and please say and thank you. But ways evolve, such as language, and if you use the wrong spoon for the soup nowadays, it should not cause any palpitations, as it could have done 100 years ago.
Instead, we have a new range of dilemmas to consider. What should we do about our obsessive telephone use? How do we greet someone we have never met, but follow on social media? Do you have to invite that vegan to a dinner? And do we still have to send thank-you letters? (Yes sorry.)
Patricia Routledge as Hyacinth Bucket in Keeping Up Appearances. As a nation, we Britons have long been proud of our ways. But ways are evolving …
I am familiar with all this because I worked in the Tatler magazine for five years, where new employees were made to study Debrett's Guide to Etiquette & Modern Manners, and I wrote pieces with headlines such as & # 39; How posh is your dog? & # 39; And & # 39; The etiquette of the trio & # 39 ;.
So, to avoid uncomfortable social dilemmas, here is my guide to get it right in 2019 …
1 Do not correct people and do not make a face when they & # 39; toilet & # 39; say (instead of the supposedly more acceptable & # 39; toilet & # 39; or & # 39; toilet & # 39;). I can not bear the snobbery around this word. The same applies to & # 39; bank & # 39 ;, & # 39; bank & # 39 ;, & # 39; lounge & # 39; and so on. It is 2019 – people should be able to use random words without judging. One of my friends taught her children & # 39; pure & # 39; to say to silence her snobbish mother-in-law and I love her.
2 Never e-mail people on weekends unless it is a real emergency. This applies especially to business e-mails, because we are all so preoccupied by having contact and are afraid to be fired if we do not give an answer to a colleague / boss within two and a half seconds, even though it on Sunday at eleven o'clock in the afternoon. But how urgent is this really? It is not. Let it stand until Monday morning.
3 When in doubt when meeting someone, shake hands. Greetings can be awfully awkward these days when we are less formal with people and throw our e-mails with kisses. How do we greet that colleague or person we follow on social media but never really met – two air kisses? One kiss and a weird half-hug? If you are worried, you can extend your hand with confidence. Nobody can misinterpret that.
4 Do not be a TV snob. A friend went on a date and struggled with a conversation, so she asked her future story that he was looking at. & # 39; I do not have TV – I've read books & # 39 ;, came the answer, as if he deserved a medal and she was half-hearted. Snobbery of all forms is unattractive, but TV snobbery is nowadays extremely misplaced, given how excellent television has become and how many choices we have. To be rude Love Island or Bodyguard makes you sound like an out-of-touch geriatrics.
5 If you sit next to someone during a dinner or stand beside you during a drink, ask questions. Be interested in them. Do not assume that you are so intriguing that the other person only needs to hear about you. A friend has a little trick that she often plays when she sits next to a man with self-satisfaction who does not stop beating herself. & When did you first realize that you were so fascinating? & # 39 ;, she asks, and they apparently always answer sincerely. Do not be the butt of this joke.
6 You still have to send thank you cards or letters, but it is completely acceptable to do it online. I often use the Moonpig website to send a card. I go online, upload a photo of my phone from the lunch / dinner in question for the front, type a thank you note for the back and send it to the next day. Fast, easy, job done.
7 Never leave your phone on the table if you are in a restaurant or someone else. So much do it, eyes flicking the faces of their friends to their phone to check for a small blinking light. It is incredibly irritating. Do it away. And do not do that to reach your phone halfway through a meeting / lunch / dinner, muttering that you just have to check something & # 39; and then scan your e-mails and all forms of social media because you are addicted to the dopamine hit. Just let it stand for a few minutes / hours. No one will die.
8 If someone has stuck a poppy seed in their teeth or a drop of gravy on their chin at a party (this is often me), tell them. There is nothing worse than going to the bathroom to realize that while I talk about international affairs, try to sound intelligent, a piece of dill wobbles on my lower lip. Please tell me. We would all rather know it.
9 Look people in the eye. It may seem obvious, but it is one that was bombed in us by my stepmother as teenagers. & # 39; Slidey eye, & # 39; she always said harshly about our friends who did not. It looks clean if you do not.
Snobbery of all forms is unattractive, but TV snobbery is nowadays extremely misplaced, given how excellent television has become and how many choices we have
10 Try to distract yourself from the habit of saying: & # 39; We need to take a drink soon & # 39 ;, to someone you'd rather never see again. Trying to set a date for something that will never really happen is a waste of time for everyone involved.
11 If you are a vegan / have not eaten bread since 1997 / only eat organic food that is locally roasted, even if you live in London, and you are asked to dine at someone's home, let the host know when you are invited. A discrete text or e-mail is fine. I'm so sorry that I'm hard, but I'm a vegan, so let me know if I can bring something & # 39 ;, turn on the right tone and give the host time to prepare. Do not let it lie until you are all sitting at the table and then say loudly: "Oh no, I'm sorry, I can not possibly eat this bite because I do not know the name of the lamb where it came from. & # 39;
12 If you really have to cancel something at the last minute, it is best to call the other person. Do not send WhatsApp with a weak statement and a series of emoji's with a sad face. When you call, try to sound guilty and offer a different date to make it right.
13 What kind of a barred person are you – the kind that treats it as a week-long festival or the kind that hates the weird pressure to & # 39; the best day ever & # 39; to have and thus ignore the whole thing? I am the last one, but do not tell colleagues or friends that it is your birthday and let it loose loosely on the day you feel needy, making them feel uncomfortable. Why not simply say: & # 39; It's my birthday & # 39 ;, smiling, when someone asks you how you are that day, and then gratefully accepts their congratulations. That way nobody feels guilty.
14 Do not always make friends who run. People with babies and small children should occasionally take the trouble to travel to see their single partner who usually comes to them. If you are the only friend in this scenario, do not make passive-aggressive remarks about it; remember that the level of good manners does not make a fuss or makes someone else feel uncomfortable. Keep in mind that you were not awakened at 5 o'clock this morning.
15 Whatever you do, do not call Brexit in polite company – or in any company.
And some very bad ways …
Being nice to others has always been a good etiquette, but it seems that many people still do not have the memo. After we had published our best (and worst) compliments last month, we asked you for your own examples. You did not disappoint, sent us the catty remarks that made you shudder and laugh in equal measure. These are our favorites …
Our post-compliments function has prompted many of you to submit your hilarious examples
My new mother-in-law, who worshiped my husband, looked at our wedding photo, and said: "Does not that white dress make his suit look beautiful?"
Melanie, Lyme Regis
Many years ago, when I arrived at the office with my hair stylized again in a curly standing, a friend noticed: I love your hair. I would have done mine in that style if it was ever in fashion again. & # 39;
Early in my relationship my husband told me he would not describe me so nicely, but I was a good all-rounder.
A neighbor who first saw my newly arrived third baby: "Oh, she is beautiful. A very beautiful baby – what a lucky bird to look like on her father. & # 39;
A nice friend, who is still a dear friend, told me a few years ago: "Oh, it's OK for you! Being slim means you can get away with wearing cheap clothes."
I am a life model for art classes; I am Rubenesque and not slim or young. When I was working at an adult school nightclub a few years ago, a very drunken intruder came in. I held my attitude while the private teacher tried to get him out of the door. Just as we thought he was gone, the door flew open again and he said: "You do not look bad, a fat bird", before you close the door. I burst out laughing. I am still crooked and still modeling.
A colleague once said to me: & # 39; How early do you have to get up to look like this? & # 39;
A woman at a business event once said about me: "I always thought it would be better to look interesting than attractive."
& # 39; That jacket is beautiful. If you were tall and slender, it would suit you. & # 39;
After our wedding ceremony, friends and relatives came together to compliment us on the day an aunt came to me and said: "You look good – your dress fits well with you and it must be so hard to put one in to get your size. & # 39;
I was once told by a good friend: & # 39; Your nose fits in your face. & # 39;
My mother for me: & # 39; I know you're a bit under that outside. & # 39;
Hannah, Market Harborough
When I told a friend that someone had told me that I looked young for my age, she said: "Yes, you do, except your hands and feet."
I walked into town with my granddaughters. The youngster was rather unfriendly to me, as children of this age can be, which I chose to ignore. The eldest came to my defense and said: "Do not be unkind to grandmother, because we do not know how long we will have her."
Years ago I was singing at work when a visiting engineer said: & # 39; You sing like a bird. I felt very proud and then said: & # 39; Like a crow.
I met an old friend and his mother, whom I had not seen since kindergarten. He told me later that his mother had said: "She is very attractive now, considering that she was such an ugly child. & # 39;
A colleague once told me: & # 39; You have no real talents … but a lot of skills. & # 39;
A friend's daughter – when she was twelve years old – said to her godmother: "I would really like tits like yours when I'm older. Only bigger! & # 39;
My favorite was from a drunken man on the tube who said to me: & # 39; You have such beautiful blue eyes, you look like … Mickey Rourke. & # 39;
An American friend once told me that I was & # 39; an eight & # 39; [out of 10]that is like a British nine in a conversation about attractiveness in the US versus the UK.
When I had platinum hair, I got: & # 39; I love your wig! & # 39;
I have a friend who, when I showed her a new dress I had bought, said: & # 39; You're so lucky, you can wear such dresses because you're so flat. & # 39;
I took my new baby, who looked rather red, in his pram and called a local toy store. The assistant looked at my dear son, stopped for a moment and said: "What a delightful pram! & # 39;