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.
When a mutual friend makes an introduction between two strangers, it should mean something. An introduction means that the mutual friend vouches for the integrity of the person to whom you are being introduced. This mutual friend also believes that the two have something in common and will get along. Therefore, use good judgment when making introductions to your family, friends and professional colleagues. There is nothing more upsetting as to find out that the two people you introduced are now at odds with each other and further, are angry with you because of having met the other person in the first place. You can see the responsibility with introductions!
When making introductions, use these pointers as guidelines:
- Do not introduce those who you do not like or respect.
- Do not introduce those who you hardly know.
- Do not introduce those with whom you are trying to end a relationship, whether personal or professional.
But once you have established that two people should meet, introductions can be fun. Here are basic rules to introductions:
When introducing yourself:
- Remember to smile.
- If you are seated, stand to greet the other person.
- Always shake hands. Failure to do so is considered rude. Grip hands firmly, meeting at the crux between the thumb and index finger, then shake twice from the elbow.
- “How do you do? I’m Molly Jones.”
- Then say something about yourself. “I’m Gretchen’s cousin from Chicago.”
- Please note: You should never say, ‘Pleased to meet you,” because you don’t know the person yet. Although “How do you do,” is not a pop greeting, it is the standard and will hold up if your manners are ever scrutinized.
When introducing others:
- The person of lower rank gets introduced to the person of higher rank.
- Children get introduced to adults. – “Mrs. Williams, I’d like to introduce my youngest sister, Kim. Kim is home from college. Kim, this is Mrs. Williams, my piano teacher.”
- Friends get introduced to parents. – “Mom, Dad, I’d like to introduce Jeremy. Jeremy and I are going to research our reports together. Jeremy, this is my mom and dad, Mr. and Mrs. Sanchez.
When you are in a group:
If you are in a group and you’re making many introductions, include a bit of information about each person. This will encourage further conversation amongst the strangers.
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.
During this holiday season, plan on experiencing a play, the opera, or the ballet. They add that special holiday flavor to this joyous season. Usually you will find more young children and adults who are not regularly opera patrons in the theaters enjoying the traditional Christmas classics such as “A Christmas Carol” or, “The Nutcracker Suite,” so have extra patience for those who may not be pros at theater-going. It is that special time of the year when we come together as neighbors to give thanks and to celebrate our good fortunes. But whatever play or ballet you plan to attend, make your experience enjoyable from beginning to end. If you are a novice at theater-going, and want to add to the experience of everyone, and not detract, the following are questions people generally have for etiquette opera, along with the answers.
What do I wear?
First, there is no longer a dress code for opera, but fastidious people like to make it a special occasion and dress up. And with that said, no one should go to the theater in jeans. A good rule of thumb for proper dress is, the better the seats, the dressier you might want to be. For a school matinee, a crisp white blouse and blue or black skirt are perfect for students. Adults, for casual wear, think afternoon luncheon wear for the day, and business dress for the evenings. Dressing up for special occasions is part of the fun!
How will I know what’s going on if the opera is not in English?
Most opera houses make it easy! There are super titles in English projected above the stage of most opera performances. That means that if the opera is sung in Italian, you’ll be able to follow the story by reading the lines as it is performed. You don’t have to know anything at all about the opera to follow the drama, moment by moment.
When should I clap?
Opera was designed for applause. Unlike a symphony concert, it’s generally OK to clap when someone has just finished a wonderful aria, which is a song. If you’re in doubt, just follow the lead of others in the audience.
Is there anything else I should know about being in an opera audience?
The rules of common courtesy apply at an opera, as they do at any performance: Never talk, whisper, giggle or laugh during a performance. Turn off your cell phone before the performance. Arrive on time. If the music has started, you may miss the whole first act! Avoid talking from the moment the overture starts until there is clapping; all of the music is important in opera, even when the curtain is down. Cover your mouth when you cough, and if you must use sweets or cough drops, unwrap them before the opera begins and keep the wrappers in your purse, to be discarded later. Above all, enjoy yourself.
When do I leave? Please don’t jump up and push your way through other patrons to beat them to the parking lot while actors are still on stage giving their last bows . Proper opera-goers stay seated until the last curtain falls, then they gracefully make their way out of the theater.