Twenty-sixteen promises to be a doozy of a year. With a contentious race for the oval office here in the U.S. and mounting turmoil around the world, there has never been a better time to break out our best manners for goodness' sake. The days of watching “Downton Abbey” are drawing to an end and so seems our arbiter of all things decent and just. During the Edwardian era, pride and dignity governed every decision and interaction. Discretion, decorum, and modesty were to be maintained at all times.
Over one-hundred years later, it seems the exact opposite is true. The more conspicuous, defiant, amplified, arrogant, and crazy/uncontrollable/trainwreck you are, the greater power and influence you yield. Whether you love him or hate him, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump is a perfect example of this. He has captivated interest and catapulted in the polls by ignoring the rules and imposing his unfiltered opinions. So have the Kardashians and the Housewives franchise for that matter, gaining attention and popularity by exposing their uncensored, unapologetic selves warts and all.
These are the times we live in and society is taking note. While celebrities and politicians with public forums have more license with this type of behavior, the rest of us in the real world must adhere to a more humble set of rules to succeed. We need to treat each other with kindness, respect, and consideration in order to build relationships and forge meaningful bonds.
To get started on the right foot both personally and professionally in the new year, here are 26 must-have manners for 2016.
1. Greet people with good eye contact and a toothy smile. It makes you appear more approachable and likable.
2. Always stand to shake someone’s hand. Extend your right hand, shake web-to-web with two firm pumps, and then gently release.
3. RSVP to invitations in a timely manner. Be sure to reply even if you know you will be unable to attend.
4. Express gratitude for gifts received and other acts of kindness with a well written thank-you note delivered via post.
5. Practice the three "B's" when toasting: begin, be brief, be seated. If you are the recipient of a toast, do not raise your glass to drink. Simply smile and say thank you.
6. Use the Continental style of dining holding your fork in the left hand and knife in the right. Face fork tines down to pierce the food while using the knife to cut and push the food onto the fork. Sit up straight and lean in towards your plate.
7. Return all phone and email communications within 24 – 48 hours. Failure to do so conveys a message that one is not worthy of your immediate attention.
8. Texting is the preferred method of communication to let someone know you're running late, however a serious relationship cannot be conducted on a smartphone. Place a call instead.
9. Practice the art of articulation. The more succinct your message, the better chance others will listen.
10. If you are invited to someone’s home for dinner, bring a host gift or offer to contribute to the meal. A favorite homemade dessert, a nice bottle of wine or potted plant is always welcome.
11. Place your cell phone on vibration mode. Go silent in public places. Warn companions ahead of time if you are receiving an important call. At mealtime, keep phones off the table.
12. Fold your napkin in half lengthwise on your lap when eating, rest it on the seat of your chair to excuse yourself during the meal, and lay it on the table to the left of the plate once the meal has concluded.
13. Tip the standard 20% for services rendered and you will be sure to receive excellent service time and again.
14. Email wisely by typing the content first and then inserting the “Send” address before transmitting. This will reduce accidental or incomplete communications.
15. After a job interview, send a thank-you note the same day, it will increase your chances of obtaining that position.
16. Bathe on a daily basis. Keep hair, nails and skin clean. Use deodorant and only a dab of perfume or cologne.
17. When entering a room, stand up straight like a palm tree. You will appear more confident, your clothes will fit better and you will look taller and leaner.
18. Meet and greet, neat. Ladies must be introduced to gentlemen, younger people to older people, and regular folk to dignitaries or VIP’s. At work, observe the hierachy from top to bottom, but remember the client always comes first.
19. Keep unsightly habits out of sight. Nail-chewing, gum-snapping, knuckle-cracking, excessive hair play, or grooming of the extremely personal or unsanitary sort will detract from your overall appearance.
20. Be forthcoming with the magic words. Include please, thank you, you’re welcome, excuse me, and I’m sorry in everyday conversation to smooth over every interaction, confrontation or altercation.
21. Dress according to season, weather or event. When in doubt, a good coat will cover up almost any fashion crime.
22. Resolve any conflict by listening and validating the other person’s opinion. If necessary, politely agree to disagree and then make your best efforts to move on.
23. Never leave the house without something minty concealed somewhere on your person. The same goes for tissues or a handkerchief.
24. If you are in the wrong, express true regret and sincerely apologize. Take full responsibility for your behavior and clean up your own mess. You will be forgiven.
25. Use social media wisely to enhance your life, not enslave it. Disconnect from the matrix on a regular basis and reconnect in person with the most important people in your world.
26. Possess a positive attitude. A healthy, grounded and optimistic outlook on life will garner you more invitations, more opportunities and help you win friends.