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Could Your Manners Use Some Spring Cleaning?

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Now that spring has sprung, you're probably going through the house tossing out old garden hoses, washing windows and donating unused items to charity. But while you're at it, could your manners use a little spring cleaning, too? Here are five manners mandates to toss out like that garden hose, and five to keep--like that Duran Duran eight-track cassette you know will be worth something someday.

DISCARD

No Elbows on the Table

This knee-jerk rule, one of the most commonly professed manners commandments, applies only when there is food on the table. Once the food has been cleared, leaning in on one’s elbows is a sign of interest in the conversation.

Men on Outer Sidewalk; Ladies on Inside

This rule is a throwback to the days when horse droppings on carriage-traveled roads could splatter up on women’s long dresses. Gone are the carriages and, in most cases, the long dresses, too.

Man Must Exit Elevator Last

No one wants to spend any more time in an elevator car than is necessary. If the man is at the very front of the elevator, he should not shuffle backwards when the doors open in an attempt to let the ladies off first—he should get off immediately so everyone else can, too.

Bringing Flowers to a Dinner Party

Do not bring flowers to a dinner party unless specifically asked to do so. Your intentions might be noble, but the net effect is that your host will have to stop what she is doing to find a vase for them. Bring a bottle of wine instead.

KEEP

Thank-You Notes

Hand-written notes (sent promptly) still get the A-plus over an e-mailed note. They show you cared enough to do what so few people do anymore. When it comes to timeliness, sooner is always better than later, but late is better than never.

Phone Calls

Despite the trend of people spending less and less time on the phone in favor of e-mailing and texting, don’t ever let go of the occasional call to say hello. The warmth of the human voice is no match for zeroes and ones.

Punctuality

There’s no arguing that we’re more scheduled than ever, but that’s no excuse for disregarding appointment times. Showing up on time shows you value the time of the person you’re meeting.

Remembering Special Occasions

Even if you can’t always be there in person, find a way to let the special people in your life know that you cared enough to remember, whether it’s a birthday, bar or bat mitvah or graduation. Emotional absence doesn’t have to accompany geographic absence.

Dinner with the Family

Finding the time to sit down as a family is increasingly difficult for many of us, but  this is one hour out of the day when we can really disconnect (from our devices) and connect (with our loved ones). And studies say that your kids will be the better (and healthier) for it.