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Some people make such a fuss about having good manners. But perhaps there is good reason for doing so. Proper etiquette is a way to show that you care about someone. It also helps people feel more comfortable in social situations. Feeling appreciated and accepted usually leads to better social relationships.

One of the challenges with etiquette is that it can vary so much (e.g., timeframes, culture, places, gender). Take table manners as one example: in North America, it is generally considered proper etiquette to eat your food quietly; however, in Japan, it is encouraged to make slurping noises when eating hot noodles. Additionally, it appears that technology has moved us toward a more relaxed view on manners (e.g., use of mobile phones everywhere, texting incomplete sentences and abbreviations, less formality in emails than letters).

Emily Post once wrote that "IDEAL conversation should be a matter of equal give and take, but too often it is all "take." She attributed nearly all faults or mistakes in conversations as being caused by a lack of thought. Here are some suggestions to noodle:

Summary of etiquette and manners in conversation

  1. Avoid political or religious discussions.
  2. Listen courteously.
  3. Keep your temper.
  4. Yield gracefully and decline further conversation in disagreements.
  5. Do not parade your opinion on all occasions.
  6. Use wit and vivacity.
  7. Be educated and have a cultivated mind (e.g., old literature, art).
  8. Don't let conversations be one-sided.
  9. Be precise and accurate in grammar.
  10. Use reason to think.
  11. Be generally modest.
  12. Show politeness and deference to the feelings and opinions of others.
  13. Listen with an air of interest and attention.
  14. Never interrupt someone who is speaking.
  15. Do not anticipate the point of a story someone is reciting (i.e., take it from his lips and finish it in your own language).
  16. Never raise your voice.
  17. Never speak in a dictatorial manner.
  18. Be amiable and frank in your discussions.
  19. Speak on the same level as to whom you are speaking.
  20. Don't speak of your own business or profession.
  21. Let the subject of your discussion conform to the place/event.
  22. Do not gesticulate.
  23. Do not ask someone to repeat his words.
  24. Do not concentrate attention upon yourself.
  25. Do not eavesdrop on the conversations of others.
  26. Avoid long speeches or tedious stories.
  27. Speak of yourself, but little.
  28. Do not submit to flattery.
  29. Do not compare your friends to one another.
  30. Do not give any sign of incredulity.
  31. Avoid subjects which can injure someone who is absent.
  32. Do not swear.
  33. Avoid a declamatory style.
  34. Avoid set phrases and use quotations rarely (especially in a foreign language).
  35. Avoid pedantry.
  36. Don't be a stickler for formal correctness of language.
  37. Avoid the use of technical terms around those who may not understand them.
  38. When speaking with foreigners, do not complete their words when they hesitate or show impatience.
  39. Never play the buffoon or be known as the "funny" man.
  40. Avoid boasting (e.g., about money, connections, luxuries, travels).
  41. Don't drag in a grave subject when the conversation is pleasant or bantering.
  42. Do not question a literary person about their own works.
  43. Don't use phrases which have a double-meaning.
  44. If you become angry in a conversation, turn to another subject or keep silent.
  45. Avoid subjects that may be too personal.
  46. Avoid using adjectives when you inquire about someone else in a room of people with whom you are unfamiliar (e.g., "who is that awkward girl over there?" "sir, that is my daughter.").
  47. Avoid gossip; in a woman, it is detestable but, in a man, it is utterly despicable.
  48. Do not officially offer assistance or advice in public.
  49. Do not use ridicule or practical joking.
  50. Avoid flattery.
  51. Discuss higher-level subjects with a lady.
  52. Avoid inflated/exaggerated expressions
  53. Speak plainly and avoid untruths.

Conversation (from The Gentlemen's Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness by Cecil Hartley)

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#50 though? Really? I think, "what nice earrings!" is a great conversation starter! LOL

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I'm guessing Cecil Hartley was using the strict definition of flattery: "praise that is not sincere." But "darling, you look marvelous" always works for me.

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