General Etiquette > general

Correcting Faux Pas / Behavior of Others or The Battle Against Eroding Manners

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We repeatedly say on this board that there is no polite way to call someone's attention to their etiquette faux pas, but this post from the discussion on the self-righteously tardy makes me realize that there has to be:

--- Quote from: Amara on February 13, 2013, 03:45:21 PM ---
These lateness discussions are fascinating to me. It's not amazing that so much of this happens but that so many people feel they don't have a right not to be aggravated by it in the name of politeness. It seems to me that society is heading ever faster into the realm of rudeness with certain actions that are becoming more acceptable: swearing at commonplace things, anger-based humor, saying no with no response at all instead a a polite rejection, and deliberate lateness because "that's the way I am" justifications. There's very little I can do to change much of it, but I can refuse to accommodate it by kowtowing to it or participating in it. And that's my stand. You need to decide what yours is and be true to it. Who knows, maybe you will become a model for others.

--- End quote ---

More recently, here is an example of a boundary violation common in families:

--- Quote from: girlysprite on March 10, 2013, 06:46:16 AM ---My brother once asked my husband what his salary was, because brother was in the process of applying for jobs. Husband didn't want to share what he earned, but did give a general indication of what was useful in their field of work. My brother kept pressing, why didn't husband share it? It's not like he would post it on facebook or something! Husband said that it was private.
Brother started mailing that he didn't understand why he didn't tell him, they were so close, it was something friends would do, and that he didn't like husbands attitude.
Two momths later when I went out to dinner with brother for his graduation, brother started interrogating me as for why husband didn't share it, And regurgitated all the arguments.

Appareantly, if he can't umderstand why people have certain boumdaries, he feels he doesn't have to respect them.

--- End quote ---

Manners aren't about how you feel, but how you act on those feelings.

If we consistently allow the people in our lives to get away with rude behavior because it isn't within the rules of etiquette to correct it, the bad behavior will not only continue but will ultimately erode the overall standard of behavior until there are no rules at all left to break (and if we are not already regarded as dinosaurs of society, we will be).

We can agree that it is both permissible and appropriate to correct the manners of anyone over whom you have authority provided it is not done in a humiliating manner (exceptions can be made if the breach creates an unsafe condition for anyone):

A parent can correct his/her own child
A teacher can correct a pupil or student
A boss can correct an underling
A military non-com or officer can correct someone lower in rank

We consistently formulate approaches to the one-time offenders we encounter in public (e.g., the boor who talks in a movie theatre), but we do need to find a way to deal with long-term offenders who do not fit the above descriptions.  In toxic families this is likely to be a case-by-case matter involving deeper issues, but there are others in our lives who may be in workplaces or social circles whose behavior either offends a social norm or may embarrass themselves or others whom we may not have the option to easily remove from our lives.

We joke about presenting etiquette books, but all know that Pygmalion gifts can be rude.  They certainly are passive/aggressive, which is rude in addition to usually being ineffective.

With the basic position of decency and in order to model behavior we can agree that for all but the most egregious cases we need to keep the interaction private.  We also need to remain calm, eschew the use of expletives of the type we do not permit in this forum, and state the case without ambiguity.

What else is required here?

Interesting topic. I think not correcting adults is in force when it doesn't actually affect you. If someone is drinking their fingerbowl or using the wrong fork or yawning without covering their mouth, we don't get to call them on it. But I believe that stops when someone's rudeness impacts you.

Badgering for your financials? I think it is fine to let them know that's not an appropriate question? Their lateness makes you late? They say something nasty and uncalled for? Of course you can say something.

But I think it is important that the offence is actually to more than your sensibilities, and varies by relationship. I wouldn't call a stranger on not saying thank you for holding their door, but I might ask a friend why they didn't feel I warranted courtesy if they never said please to me.

Lateness is one of my pet peeves and I did call someone out on it over the phone by pointing out that she was always punctual for hard start times (like entertainment venues) but never on time when meeting friends.  That did show some improvement, but didn't entirely eliminate the problem.

As to family issues, I happen to think that etiquette is even more necessary because family members are less "disposable" than most other people, at least in theory.  The fact that "family vacations" are often an oxymoron point to the real issue of mutual respect within one's DNA.

So interesting.  I think social correction is important, but I prefer the kind that is conveyed subtly.  Unfortunately, people do seem to be losing their fluency with that particular language.

I was out with a friend I don't see much, and during the first 10 minutes after she arrived at the wine bar, she was on her phone.  Not really looking at me, half paying attention to her surroundings, not ready to order when waiter came by x 2.  Irritating, but I assumed it was something kid related that needed timely response.  I get home later that night, check Facebook, and see that that's what she was doing - there's a long back and forth between her and another friend.

I had subtly sent the message that it was not so cool at the time (looking at her expectantly, body language said clearly "waiting", not saying "it's okay" if she offered an excuse) but it seems the only message she understands is "what the hell is wrong with you?" Which I am ashamed to admit I have been peeved enough on occasion to use.  This person is not a child or even a youngster, but I struggle with correction or comment, seething or acceptance.  She's late about 70% of the time as well. Unless it's a hard start time, and I think maybe the joke is on me that I keep putting myself through it.  We've had a few chats about it, it's not getting through.

Venus, this is a great question.  It's the one major etiquette rule that I "interpret" at will.

For example, my operative qualifier is "gratuitous".  If I want to point out rudeness merely to embarrass someone, or even as a PA way to address something that should have been handled more directly, then I see it as wrong.

But if it's a pattern of rude behavior, and it's someone close to me, I have two choices:  accept the rudeness, or point it out.  Bean dip isn't going to work.  And if it's something like being consistently late, looking at my watch as they arrive is just PA silliness.  So I can't see anything wrong with "it's rude for you to have so little consideration for my time". 


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