The Lost Art of Social Civility

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by Ellen Easton

The Lost Art of Social Civility

The lost art of civility in social norms in our world causes havoc. Just as good fences make good neighbors so too do good manners make good relationships.

Social civility is a form of unspoken communication. When one understands the rules feelings are not hurt.

While the rigid days of when ladies and gentlemen wore gloves and hats may be long behind us there are still separate issues that apply as to how one conducts oneself when meeting others.

A good host or hostess will always welcome a guest with ease and comfort.  Good friends will always welcome a new comer into their circle.

How to make an introduction in a social setting: the youngest person is presented to the oldest; the person of lower rank or position is introduced to the person of higher rank or position.  Under the old guard rules, a man would not extend a hand to a lady until her hand had been offered first. However, a lady would never make a gentleman feel uncomfortable and in such a case would certainly offer her hand in greeting. The details can be complex and best to read The Emily Post Book of Etiquette for the nuances.

Referrals, Introductions and meetings are not one and the same.

The protocols of referrals: It’s one thing when one makes a specific referral, in which case it is de rigueur for the recipient to not only say thank you but to write an ackwledgement as well for the kindness. Unless a contractual business agreement is in force, it is customary for the person making the referral to not be included.

The protocols of introductions: When one makes an introduction of one person to another both should say thank you to the person who made the introduction.  The person who made the initial introduction is expected to be included when the two get together for the first time only. 

The protocols of meeting: The same as when one meets another at a third person’s home or private event the correct protocol is to include the host the first time but one is  not required to do so anytime thereafter. 

When one meets another at a public event if a relationship is forged they need not include the host when next getting together.

Once people meet through another, whether a referral or introduction, after the first social occasion to include the catalyst, they are not expected to report back as to when and how they get together.  It is equally important to be mindful that once an introduction or connection is made the relationships that follow are independent of the relationship to the host or person who made the introduction. 

One cannot be possessive of others.  Do not be shocked if your best friend befriends another of your friends.  It is not a betrayal.  It is a natural fit for likeminded people to bond.  DO be shocked if what you thought was a good friend uses you as a stepping- stone to meet your contacts only to forsake you for another.  In truth, you have not lost anything except time wasted on the wrong person.  It happens.

It is always nice to remember to be inclusive to all, especially to those who have exhibited a kindness. 

No one is perfect.  Mistakes are made. Relationships are fragile.  Privacy is to be respected.  Communication and thoughtfulness are vital to maintaining all healthy relationships. 

2019 ©Ellen Easton- All Rights Reserved


Ellen Easton, author of Afternoon Tea~Tips, Terms and Traditions(RED WAGON PRESS), an afternoon tea authority, lifestyle and etiquette industry leader, keynote speaker and product spokesperson, is a hospitality, design, and retail consultant whose clients have included the Waldorf=Astoria, the Plaza and Bergdorf Goodman. Easton’s family traces their tea roots to the early 1800s, when ancestors first introduced tea plants from India and China to the Colony of Ceylon, thus building one of the largest and best cultivated teas estates on the island.FacebookTwittergoogle_plusPinterestEmailShare

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2 Responses

  1. This wonderfully written piece by Ellen Easton is truly cogent in this era, where civility has become almost obscure in many areas. Ms. Easton has beautifully outline several areas of decorum that are forgotten in both social and business events. This article should be copied and forwarded as it hits on an important element of civility in social settings that has been sadly overlooked in today’s world. Kudos to Ellen Easton!

  2. Ellen Easton says:

    Thank you for your kind comments. Very much appreciated. Ellen Easton

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