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Posted at: May 18, 2018, 12:39 AM; last updated: May 18, 2018, 12:39 AM (IST)MANNER BORN

Old is still gold

The concept of gender equality may have made a few etiquette rules redundant in today’s time, but chivalry is not entirely dead and gone
Old is still gold
Young Hispanic man being a gentleman and opening the car door for her date

Abha Chaudhary

The concept of gender equality may have made a few etiquette rules redundant in today’s time, but chivalry is not entirely dead and gone

The old rules for the ways men and women walk together may have changed but there are still plenty of people who prefer the traditional way of doing things, particularly on social occasions.

The echoes of traditions of etiquette lend much grace to our social interactions even today. On the street, a man traditionally walks on the curb side of a woman shielding her from the hazards posed by passing horse and buggies, now cars splashing through puddles. In the past, men showed deference to women with many of these small courtesies, holding doors and chairs. However, with women seeking more empowerment such acts are seen as condescending and demeaning.

Hold the door

As with all manners, even the common courtesies get a makeover now and again. Today whoever gets there first opens and should hold the door for the next person. But on a date many women still secretly appreciate it when a man uses these traditional courtesies. It’s a real courtesy for both men and women to open a door for a person who is elderly or who has a disability and if needed be considerate to offer a hand.

It’s always wise and protective for a man to precede a woman in a dark room or street, down a steep ramp or a slippery slope on rough ground and through crowds or getting into a taxi. Tradition says that a man holds the chair of the woman on his right to assist seating her at the table. Today women seat themselves. However, it’s never rude to ask a woman, “May I hold your chair?”

Inside the elevator

The guidelines for entering and exiting an elevator are much the same –whoever’s in front goes first. Make way for a person getting off before you. And one rule absolutely and unfortunately missing from the scenarios is that people should be allowed to get out of an elevator first before those who get in. Once you’re inside after pushing the floor button move as far to the back of the elevator car as possible, and if it is so crowded you can’t reach the button ask someone else to push it for you. Spaces have become crowded these days and often pushing through people is justified, however the rule is –keep right and pass left just as you do when driving.

In the sidewalk

In bustling cities sidewalk etiquette is all about bobbing and weaving as expertly as possible –which means manoeuvring past others without jostling or interrupting their path. Be careful with luggage, backpacks, briefcases and handbags so they don’t knock anyone around you. Though change is the only thing constant, and like all rules social courtesies also must change and adapt to new situations and the people in those situations, what must not change is the intention of being considerate to others. And good intention is the essence of good behaviour.

(Chaudhary is a Chandigarh-based image and style consultant)

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