Aside from the momentary fashionable trends that seem to grip society every half generation, good etiquette never goes out of style. Whether it is tipping appropriately, or knowing where to place the forks, here are 10 most important tips men can use:
1. Restaurants – Whenever dining out (especially in a formal setting), be sure to allow your female partner to be seated first. You can control this situation by pulling out a chair for her and seating yourself afterwards. For those of you who dare to be chivalrous — it is common practice to stand when a woman gets up to leave the table.
2. Table Manners – When sitting at a table (either in a restaurant or at home), your elbows should never rest on the eating surface. Elbows on the table are acceptable only between meal courses, or in extremely informal settings like bars or pubs.
3. Addressing Women – Did you know that there is a correct and incorrect way to address a woman, both verbally and in writing? It all depends on her age and marital status.
You should speak and write “Mrs.” when addressing married woman. For any woman who is unmarried, or if you are not sure about her marital status – use the term “Ms.” For girls and teens under the age of 17 years, you should use “Miss”.
4. Hats and Caps – Never enter a building with your hat or cap on. The only exceptions are public places of interests such as train, bus, and subway stations; indoor and outdoor pavilions; or places near public street entrances like lobbies or hallways. You should always remove your hat for photographs, when entering a home, during the national anthem, and when in the presence of a woman.
5. Flowers – Unless you mean to say — “I love you my dear friend”, something other than red or pink roses should be given to female acquaintances. Roses are a symbol of love, romantic interest, or “respectful love” — as in situations when giving roses to a mother on Mother’s Day.
For occasions when a female is not a love interest (i.e. birthdays, graduations, promotions, or new friendships) — choose from a variety of “friendly flowers” like Lilies, Sunflowers, Daisies, Chrysanthemums, Bamboo, or Irises.
6. Personal Property – If Possible, men should refrain from touching, moving, or interfering with one’s personal property. For example, you should never touch and move an unknown woman’s purse — even if it is in your way. You should also avoid touching clothes, vehicles, equipment, or any personal items belonging to another.
The only exceptions are returning lost or misplaced items to their rightful owners, or if an emergency calls for your intervention. More strict rules apply to home properties such as mailboxes. Not only is opening someone’s mailbox bad etiquette — it is also illegal.
7. Shaving – Men do not like to shave, but it is a necessity in certain situations. When attending such events as weddings, formal gatherings, reunions, business meetings, job interviews, etc. – your face should be stubble free. If you are venturing into an unfamiliar territory, it is best to leave that shadowy look at home. The only exceptions here are well-trimmed beards, moustaches, or goatees.
8. Coughing and Sneezing – You were probably told as a child: “Cover your mouth when you cough!” This is still good practice, but you should go one step further.
If you have a handkerchief or some tissue nearby, try sneezing or coughing directly into it and when finished — throw it away. Serious respiratory illnesses like influenza, whooping cough, and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are spread through airborne germs, and germs on your hands.
If no tissue is available, sneeze or cough into your sleeve. This helps keep germs out of the air and off your hands.
9. Invitations – Believe it or not, there are a few occasions when you should never turn down an invite or request for attendance. Two such events are requests for funeral assistance and honoree events. If you are asked to act as a pallbearer at a funeral or if a banquet or dinner is being held in your honor — you should make every attempt to attend.
10. What to Wear – Knowing what to wear and when to wear it is important if you want to save your reputation. There is a difference in casual, business casual, and professional dress. In reality, it all depends on the event.
If attending a day wedding, school play, or luncheon – a button-down with slacks is the way to go. A formal wedding, class reunion, job interview, or business meeting all require a button-down, tie, and slacks. Jackets and/or blazers are necessary when presenting, facilitating formal meetings, or when in a place of recognition.
Shorts of any length and t-shirts should not be worn — even if an event is labeled as “casual”. The only obvious exceptions are outdoor events such as barbecues, pool parties, and family reunions.
There you go. Those are 10 great etiquette tips that should keep you from making a total fool out of yourself. Use at least five of them, and it is likely that someone will label you as a “true gentleman”.