Being a good guest requires the same type of concern for the other person as being a good host. Your guest manners should be your standard home manners, so that you are pleasant to live with everywhere. Even so, we are nervous about our manners when we visit someone’s house, especially when we are sleeping over for a few days. Knowing how to behave puts you at ease, because it does away with your self-consciousness. Being a guest can be fun and rewarding if we learn our lessons ahead of time. Here are some good rules for the guest:
Enter your host’s home happy to see everyone. Even if you are tired, stop to thank your host for inviting you. Bring along a little gift of appreciation when you visit. It should be a simple gift of flowers or a fruit and cheese basket, or a box of good candy, a token of your appreciation for the household’s offered hospitality.
Be Neat and Orderly Throughout Your Stay
Once shown to your room, remove items from your suitcase and put them and your suitcase away. Usually there is an empty drawer for the guest. Put your undergarments and toiletries there. Hang up your clothes. Slip your suitcase under the bed if there is no other space for it. Don’t live out of your suitcase.
Ask permission to use their computer, but don’t monopolize its use. It is rude and unfriendly to hold up in your room, working on something on a computer when you are an invited guest. While on the Internet, stay away from questionable sites.
Be Considerate and Go With the Flow
Keep your room area clean. Pick up after yourself as you go. Keep a bag for your used clothing so that you can help keep things neat. Be time sensitive when you’re in the bathroom. Leave everything clean and dry, free from hair in the sink and stray tissues and cotton balls on the vanity. Fit into the flow of the household schedule. If everyone gets up “at the crack of dawn,” then you do as well. If you’re a late person, smile at the experience. You can always look at it as an adventure. Pitch in during the day with clean up. Ask to help your host with the dishes. It’ll be fun cleaning up the kitchen and listening to the latest songs, or the neighborhood gossip. Be friendly to your host’s friends that come to visit her while you’re there. Ask questions of the friend that will keep her talking about herself, or about her friendship with your host, and the three of you can laugh at the funny things your host and her friend have gotten themselves into at their school, or on the job. Visits are always fun when everyone is included.
When Your Stay Ends
Before you leave, double check the closets and drawers to make sure that you have packed everything. It is an inconvenience to have your friend mail you forgotten items because you were hasty in packing. Do not leave the house without telling your host that you have enjoyed your stay. When you get home, write a thank-you note within a week of the visit, thanking your friend and her family for their warm hospitality. Return the hospitality in due time by inviting her to spend time at your house.
We all walk, and whether we like it or not, people get impressions of us by the way we carry ourselves. That graceful gait is your poise and confidence being reflected in how you walk. Or that slump and shuffle an indication of your insecurities with the surrounding environment. So walking with your back straight, not sloughed, stepping decidedly and softly, one foot in front of the other if you are a woman, is the best way to say, “I’m here. Take note.” Now there are many ways to say this. In a museum, it is a quiet, but attentive meander. On a busy street, it is purposeful stepping and a smile as you exchange greetings with a fellow pedestrian. There are many aspects to walking. When you have to catch that bus, it is a quick sure stride, not bumping into anyone, but a deliberate thoughtful advance toward the bus. When walking, have a balanced gait, walking as if you have someplace to go. Even walking to the park to sit and enjoy a sunny morning deserves your best effort.
It is not the win, but how you play the game that counts. That is the main point for a good sport, and for a young man or young lady of good character. The good sportsman plays fair. He has respect for the rules and for the authorities of the game. He doesn’t shout and pout at the officials. He plays hard and wins humbly. He plays hard and loses gracefully. He shakes hands before and after the game, no matter who his team is playing; no matter who wins or who loses. How can we take these qualities off of the court and into the world of school, business and social success?
First, play fair. Don’t cheat on tests. That means you have to study, study, study. Studying gives you knowledge first, then expertise, and finally confidence. But knowledge is the door opener. Next, don’t cheat in business. Don’t sabotage a colleague’s project because you didn’t think of it, or because it goes against your business model, or because you are afraid he may get more of the boss’s attention. Bad feelings from others aimed at you will be around longer than a money bonus. Quiet seething from colleagues is dangerous for your career health. And finally, don’t cheat in your social life. Be open and honest with all of your family and friends. That does not mean reveal what you want kept to yourself, or give everyone in your life special considerations you only feel for a select few. Just be honest, be fair, and be a good sport.
Be you young or old, you can always remake yourself. You find this need when you discover how you have grown. A remake can be any change that you want. Do you want a career change, from the corporate to the educational world, a change from living in the city to the suburbs, or vice versa? Do you need to admit that you are never going to get in those size eights and so size 10s are calling you to discover their styles and adventures? Or maybe you want to get into those eights, because you still like them, and they are symbolic of your healthy past. Have you added a leaner diet and everyday exercise to your life? It’s not too late! Start with fifteen minutes a day, a big salad for lunch, and go from there.
These etiquette club members want to know more about appropriate dress, because they were drawn to learning about how they could improve themselves, inside and out, from practicing outward manners to discovering a gracious life, all of it free, if you want it. Find out who you want to be, and then remake yourself.
Staying up on current events is a must for interesting conversation at a party. Watch the news and read your local newspapers. Read books. Know what’s on the current bestseller list. Having this in your repertoire gives you the confidence to walk into a room full of strangers.
When at a party, give your full attention to the person to whom you’re talking. Being a good listener is a fine quality of a lady or a gentleman, and is greatly appreciated. When you listen, give eye contact, and be engaged with the talker. Ask a question about the comment to show that you have been listening.
Show interest in the person to whom you’re talking. Ask questions that lead the other person to talk about the things they enjoy or their achievements. Restrain your natural instinct to talk about yourself unless the conversation runs into a dead end. Letting the other person do the talking is always a winner. It keeps you in the mix of the party, and it will give you an opportunity to meet others. Which leads to the next tip.
Circulate. Make yourself known to people that attract you. There is a reason why these people are attractive. Engage in conversation with them to observe their good conversationalist qualities.
Don’t bring up religion, or your opinion about war, or your idea of a just society. It may induce an argument, and nobody wins when we walk away from each other huffy and indignant. When you are invited to a party, be it formal or informal, don’t hug the wall wishing you were at home with your favorite shopping magazines. Get in the mix. Good conversation just may be the beginning of a good friendship.
If your last year was good or bad, on the job or at school, you can make this year better in all areas of your life. On your road to living a gracious life, reconnect with what was good about last year, at work or at school. What were your successes at work? Was it figuring out a morning routine that would get you to work on time? Maybe it was your resolve to eat your balanced brown bag lunch in the face of gooey treats all around you. Or perhaps it was keeping your temper muted, even when the other girl was nearly always at fault. You may even discover this year that you were a source of inspiration to the new intern last year, that your last year was someone else’s good past. If you have managed to stay connected to the good of last year, then give yourself a congratulatory pat on the back, keep smiling, keep your happy head up, and keep going. By connecting to the good of your last year, this year will be even better.