Modern Manners for the Younger Generations:
Etiquette evolves to adapt to the times; but manners are a constant because manners are more about how we treat other people, rather than strict rules for how things should be done. Manners are about being mindful of others and showing respect for them.
Good manners never go out of style!
Millennials and Gen Zers are our future leaders. And as such, will be role models for all who follow them. I know all in these two generations are not alike, just like all baby boomers are not alike; but there are many common traits–some quite wonderful, and some that might be improved upon. For the ones that need a little work, I have the following tips that are sure to make a positive impression with the older generations, as well as set a good example for all who will be following them:
Put your mobile device away. Not all the time, but occasionally it would be nice. I am sure you frequently hear this, “He/she never puts his/her mobile device away.” If you would try to discipline yourself to put your mobile device away when you are with a date, your relatives, or anyone you respect, it would be noticed, and I am certainly appreciated.
Make polite conversation. When you show interest in others and ask questions about them, they will find you likeable. They will also think you are well-mannered. When you are invited to a social event or someone’s home, you should always go prepared with a few conversation topics they would find interesting. In other words, plan on being sociable and showing interest in the people you know or are meeting for the first time.
Make eye contact. When you are speaking to another person, it is polite to make eye contact with them. It shows respect for the person, and it also shows you are confident enough to make eye contact. Force yourself to look others in the eye when greeting, talking, and especially listening.
Mind your posture. Stand and sit up straight. Slouching makes you look lazy, disinterested, as well as disrespectful to the person with whom you are speaking or eating. It doesn’t take much effort but will make a world of difference in how you are perceived since erect posture gives the impression of confidence and poise.
Be gracious and appreciative. Use the magic words you learned when you were a child. Any time you want something, you say, “Please.” I am certain you know that. And when someone does something for you, gives you a gift, or hosts you at their house for the weekend, you say, “Thank-you.” But do you write a thank-you note? It would be very classy if you sent a hand-written note, but an email or even a text would make you seem more appreciative than not sending any note. Lastly, when someone says, “Thank you” to you for something you have done for them, you should say, “You’re welcome” or “It was my pleasure.” Saying, “No problem” always implies to others that somehow it might have been.
Dress for your audience. The acceptable modern dressing is certainly more causal today, but there are times when a t-shirt or hoodie and sneakers won’t be appropriate. Even when Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of Congress, he wore a suit and tie because that is the standard in that arena. So, if you are a man, I would recommend you have at least one blazer—black or navy blue—and one suit, with a pair of dress shoes. You never know when you will need them. If you are a woman, have at least one classic black dress or pantsuit and black heels to wear for those more formal or traditional occasions.
Be well-groomed.This should go without saying, but I will tell you that regardless of your attire, your grooming should be polished. Look in the mirror before you go out. If you are wearing a shirt that should be ironed and tucked in, then, by all means, press it and tuck it in. If you are wearing leather shoes, they should be polished. Nail polish should be all “on” with no chips, or taken off, etc.
Polish your table manners. You never know when this will come in handy—particularly when your grandmother wants to take you out to dinner; when you are having dinner with your significant other’s parents for the first time; or you are going to have your second interview with a company over lunch. Brushing up on your table manners can only be a good thing. You may never attend a formal six-course meal at Buckingham Palace, but you will be attending many dinners where you will be judged by your conduct at the table.
Refrain from constantly photographing yourself and everything you see and do for Instagram. I take photographs for Instagram, but I do so occasionally and when it is appropriate. Of course, I am sure you have more picture-worthy moments than I or your parents; nevertheless, when you are with “older” people who are not doing this, try to be more selective about taking your phone out to photograph yourself or something you see. And perhaps, you don’t need to post everything you photograph on Instagram or Facebook.
Practice proper meeting and greeting skills. Nothing makes a better first impression or lasting impression than offering your hand for a firm handshake, accompanied by a smile and appropriate greeting for a person you are meeting—whether it is someone you have met before or are meeting for the first time. (Of course, you will be standing when you greet or are introduced to another person.) And, be mindful of the fact that when you are with friends, relatives, or business colleagues, it is your responsibility to introduce them if you encounter someone unknown to them or someone who does not know them.