Proper Southern Manners Part 3 (Good Manners At Arm’s Length)
Many have been emailing asking WHEN part three of the series will be ready. Well, here it is. These may get a bit long, however, I promise they are well worth it.
Let’s get to it!
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Good Manners at Arm’s Length
The most personal interaction we commonly have with others is face-to-face contact. The innate intimacy of this social encounter involves a variety of ways in which we can express ourselves for good or ill.
Greetings are the first aspect of face-to-face contact. It should start with a smile that is appropriate for the relationship. Such a smile can come from more than just the mouth. A smile can be seen in the eyes. After this, verbal greetings are often in order and are based on how well you know each other.
Physical contact is another matter. Traditionally, men shake hands and women hug. More recently these boundaries have blurred. Many people find comfort in maintaining these traditional contacts, and they are recommended here.
The original reason for shaking hands was to show that one did not have a weapon in hand, ready to strike. On a more subtle level, men test the strength of the other with a firm handshake. Whenever a man gives a weak or limp handshake, others, women included, tend to immediately disrespect that person. Refusal to offer one’s hand, or to accept the handshake of the other, shows contempt for that person, and should not be done unless there are very good reasons. When one refuses to shake another’s hand, it can be perceived as an insult.
Eye contact that is balanced in its duration can communicate interest in what the other person is saying. If the eye contact is too long (staring) or too intense it can be rude and might communicate wrongful motives. Eye avoidance generally communicates no interest at all and shows disrespect for the other. If time constraints require you to leave, there are tactful ways of getting this idea across. If you are not interested in what they are saying, practice your patience, listen a while, find a good breaking point and excuse yourself.
It is important to be careful not to let one’s eyes wander where they should not go. Males are particularly prone to this breach of etiquette and are well-advised to keep their vision above the neckline when communicating with the opposite sex. The most offensive variation on this theme is the practice of some males either gawking or turning their heads to stare at a woman when she passes by. This is a complete lack of self-respect and respect for the woman. A gentleman never does this. The only exception to any of this paragraph is in reference to one’s spouse.
Personal space the distance between people as they interact is generally set by their culture and is different throughout the world. Persons from South America are more comfortable at closer distances than persons from North America. It is humorous to watch a North American continually move backward as a South American continually moves forward as each tries to maintain their ideal of the proper personal distance.
However, in the absence of such cultural differences, getting too close to others in a face-to-face situation can be rude or threatening. Try to recognize when you are crowding others as “getting in someone’s face” is often used as an intimidation technique. The proper distance will save you the embarrassment of worrying about offending another with your breath or accidentally spraying the other person. When in conversation with a stranger, more than arm’s length is reasonable when one considers the level of crime in our present-day world.
Interrupting is generally considered rude when it cuts off another person’s speech or train of thought. Exceptions to this are in situations where words and thoughts are flowing freely and one can feel that persons jumping in and out of the conversation is part of the character of that particular setting. Show respect for the thoughts, speech, and feelings of the other persons. After all, are you really sure you know the totality of what they have to say?
Hand gestures, as a part of face-to-face communication, have not generally been a problem in the past. The worst aspect of this, historically, was simply too much of it so that it was a meaningless distraction. However, in more recent years some individuals have adopted a style of personal communication that includes shoving their hands close to your face. This would have been considered provocation for a physical confrontation in the past, and for some people today still is a “fight starter.” Do not “get in someone’s face” with your hands. After all, what is the purpose of it anyway? Does it have any real meaning other than a poor attempt to establish dominance?
Entering A Room
Entering a room calls for males of all ages to remove their hats upon crossing the threshold of a house or other building. This practice goes back to ancient times and is referred to in Scripture in reference to men having their heads uncovered in Church. This same practice does not apply to women. Instead, whenever a woman enters a room where men are seated, it is customary for the men to stand until she is seated. This shows respect and is generally applied to adult females.
In today’s world, this concept is completely foreign to those who advocate and practice treating women as chattel. Some currently published songs call for the unprovoked physical and emotional abuse of women along with other segments of society. Part of the reason for their wretched attitude towards women is due to the fact that they would not know a lady if they met one. Having never observed the excellence of character and spirit of a true lady, they imagine women as weaker members of our species simply to be used for personal gratification.
Part of the reason for this attitude is the simple fact that the art of being a lady has been greatly lost during the past generation. Although this statement will incur the ire of some women, a vast majority will no doubt agree that the art of being a lady and the art of being a gentleman is nearly comatose. It, therefore, behooves all of us (men and women) to do our utmost to re-invigorate these dying arts.
How To Properly Sit
1. Legs together, or legs crossed at ankles, or legs crossed at knees, or legs together – leaning at an angle.
- Bend over to pick up. Stoop.
- Sit with legs apart.
- One leg is crossed over the knee of other leg.
- Straddle a chair.
1. Legs slightly apart, or one leg crossed above the knee of other leg, or legs crossed at knees.
2. Men/boys may bend over to pick up things.
- Spread legs out from under the table or out in the air.
- Straddle a chair.
1. Sit with your back against the back of the chair, bench, etc.
2. Sit up straight and tall.
3. Do not slouch.
Arms of chairs – not for sitting or propping feet, but an armrest.
Rounds of chairs – to steady and reinforce legs & chair frame. The feet should stay on the floor.
Legs of chairs – for support and balancing, and it takes 4 legs not 2.
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