To think that having manners does not mean being a pretentious git?

(73 Posts)
SlightlySuperiorPeasant Fri 23-Nov-12 08:50:21

To me, having good manners means doing your best to put other people at ease and to be polite in difficult situations.

Apparently, some people think that having good manners is based completely on knowing all the social rules that define a social class - which fork to use, what to talk about/not talk about at dinner, which buttons to do up etc. - and sneer at people who try their best but "aren't quite our sort".

AIBU to think that sneery types are mannerless gits?

I think the "some people" you mentioned are getting manners confused wih ettiquette.

YANBU, sneering is rude, and therefore bad manners.


MyLastDuchess Fri 23-Nov-12 08:56:32

I feel the same as you: good manners is making other people feel comfortable.

goralka Fri 23-Nov-12 08:57:14

yes but mrsmango good etiquette is about putting people at their ease and not making them feel uncomfortable, not about oneupmanship as some people seem to think.

SlightlySuperiorPeasant Fri 23-Nov-12 08:59:00

YY. Having good etiquette is obviously a good thing because it means you can relax and enjoy yourself rather than wondering what you're supposed to be doing but it's perfectly possible to know all the rules and have terrible manners and vice versa.

maybenow Fri 23-Nov-12 09:00:54

I have never met any of these sneery types. But they do sound like mannerless gits.

I went to comprehensive school in a working class area then on to a university dominated by upper class students including landed gentry etc. and yet everybody I met would be more than happy to help you out with which is your white wine, red wine and water glass, or what a fish knife is or which cutlery to start with (though I actually know all that from waitressing!)... I make an effort in life to only spend time with nice people of any class or upbringing and to avoid bitchy sneery types.

SlightlySuperiorPeasant Fri 23-Nov-12 09:02:08

I think there's one incident that demonstrates the difference perfectly: Someone or other at a State dinner didn't know what to do with the finger bowl so drank it. To make him feel less stupid the Queen also drank hers and everyone else followed suit. Terrible etiquette (?) but excellent manners.

I got sneered at one for being unable to use a fish knife (surely the most pointless invention ever). Fish knives are designed for right handed people, and I eat left handed. I asked for a normal knife and refused to faff around trying to cut the fish with the wrong hand and this chap sneered at me. I did give him a death stare, and heard someone else giggle when he shut up.

PlantsDieArid Fri 23-Nov-12 09:06:42

Manners are about including people and making them all feel welcome, at ease etc.

Etiquette is about knowing a certain set of social rules, ostensible to facilitate the occasion or process by ensuring everyone understands their role or responsibility and what is expected of them procedure- or behaviour-wise.

Etiquette is useful to know if you're going into unfamiliar territory, meeting the Queen for example.

In my experience, many people use etiquette as a means of exclusion and to make outsiders feel uncomfortable, the opposite if good manners.
Doing so is vulgar and ill-bred, and is often displayed by socially insecure and rather toxic types in whose narrow world the idea of 'belonging' far outweighs any common decency. It gives them an erroneous sense of self importance and they deserve pity.

And a smart smack across the chops with a kidskin dress glove.

SlightlySuperiorPeasant Fri 23-Nov-12 09:08:29

Than you Plants for putting it far more eloquently than me grin

ImperialStateKnickers Fri 23-Nov-12 09:10:49

I think the Queen and the finger bowl story is actually apocryphal, but it does illustrate what you mean perfectly. Etiquette can change in different times and cultures, but good manners as a concept is universal.

SlightlySuperiorPeasant Fri 23-Nov-12 09:13:10

Probably but I like it.

seeker Fri 23-Nov-12 09:16:06

There is a difference between manners and etiquette.

Having good manners and being courteous is essential.

Knowing etiquette can be very useful because there are some people who will judge. They are gits, obviously, but who wants to be judged, even by gits. Knowing how to behave anywhere is incredibly valuable.

seeker Fri 23-Nov-12 09:17:36

Oh, and anyone who uses fish knives is incredibly déclassé. So they've lost before they start!

goralka Fri 23-Nov-12 09:18:30

ha was just going to say how naff fish knives are!

goralka, ettiquette, as Plants said, is a code, or a set of social rules, which knife, glass, correct words for a greeting etc. Being polite and putting people at ease is good manners. Using ettiquette for oneupmanship, or to make someone feel unconfortable is bad manners, and a pretty shitty thing to do.

My point was that knowing these rules, ettiquette, has nothing to do with good or bad manners. It's how you act, how you put them into practice, and how you behave to others that reflect your manners.

The people with the worst manners I have ever seen were those who congratulated themselves on knowing the perfect etiquette for any situation.


Lots of cross-posts, must learn to type faster.

Plants Love your description, I'm going to mentally file that one away for the future, if I ever come across a fish knife idiot again...grin

I find etiquette fascinating, especially the way it changes from country to country, and through the years.

But manners and etiquette are two very different things. Manners is about putting people at ease, so in some instances, it is good manners to learn etiquette, for instance if entertaining guests from a different country.

There are two rules in British etiquette which I particularly love:

1. It is extremely poor etiquette to notice or comment upon another persons lack of etiquette.
2. A woman can never display poor etiquette. (Sexist but fun!)

Yes MangoBiscuit keep up!!!!!!

Mrsjay Fri 23-Nov-12 09:27:10

I have good manners I have no idea about etiquette I know some things but other things baffle me I think manners and etiquette is different and it can be far to polite and seem a bit false , yanbu though manners should be a given

seeker Fri 23-Nov-12 09:28:48

Etiquette is like the rules of a club-it's used by certiain people to exclude. That is why I have taught my children as much formal etiquette as I can. If you know the rules you can choose to break them or use them to your advantage!

Mrsjay Fri 23-Nov-12 09:30:20

I do know how to eat if i am out and i know to work my way in with cutlery I manage to not look like an oaf grin

I am aware of many of the etiquette rules, and have passed on what I know to the DCs, but this is in the same vein as seeker. If the DCs know the rules, they'll be comfortable anywhere.

At the same time I am also encouraging the DCs to use the good manners I know they have, which of course is a different thing altogether.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Fri 23-Nov-12 09:33:39

Agree that manners and etiquette are two very different things.

In my experience, the people with the most class, and often (but not always) the most money, are the ones that display both good manners and good etiquette. The people that sneer at others tend to be the ones who spend their lives wishing they had more money, more social standing and kissing the arses of those who do have more.

People who are comfortable and confident with themselves do not feel the need to sneer at others.

Ullena Fri 23-Nov-12 16:09:15

Eti-what now? grin

ethelb Fri 23-Nov-12 16:14:57

if you have got manners you have got class imo.

amillionyears Fri 23-Nov-12 16:17:19

Can I ask some etiquette questions please?
Should curry and/or other dishes be eaten with just a fork?
When should napkins be supplied?
Can you remind me please, which words should be used. napkins/serviettes/soemthing else. tiolet,lavatory/something else lounge/sitting room/living room settee/sofa/something else. Thanks.

Pixieonthemoor Fri 23-Nov-12 16:31:57

Seeker you are very wise!

amillionyears no idea about the curry question. Personally, napkins when it's a bit more formal eg sunday lunch, dinner party etc (but that's just me).
Drawing room (or sitting room)

But I would only use these in company where it is appropriate and not likely to make others uncomfortable or me look like a git. If everyone else is talking about the lounge/settee then I would use those. Which is where, I suppose, manners and etiquette overlap....

seeker Fri 23-Nov-12 17:54:38

Curry, like asparagus, should properly be eaten with the fingers. The tips of the fingers of the right hand to be very specific!

amillionyears Fri 23-Nov-12 17:56:36

ha grin or ah wink

SlightlySuperiorPeasant Fri 23-Nov-12 21:22:37

amillionyears a good rule of thumb is to avoid the word that looks French e.g. serviette, toilet, lounge, settee.

amillionyears Fri 23-Nov-12 21:30:52

I think you may be having a joke hmm

SlightlySuperiorPeasant Fri 23-Nov-12 21:37:48

Why? It's a good rule!

amillionyears Fri 23-Nov-12 21:45:27

Sorry. I thought you may have read another thread of mine a few days ago.

Apologies. <tries and finds somewhere to hide>

Yes, thank you, I will bear that in mind from now on. blush

marriedinwhite Fri 23-Nov-12 21:46:21

People who sneer are not generally well mannered. I think it goes deeper than that though ime usually the people who sneer are the people who think they are better than others but are generally so pig thick that they don't realise how much of the etiquette stuff they get wrong. Ask them for some sugar and they will probably tell you they aint got none.

SlightlySuperiorPeasant Fri 23-Nov-12 21:49:10

Ooo amillion I have no idea what you're talking about but I'm dying to know! Apologies if you're French blush

grin married

omletta Fri 23-Nov-12 21:53:07

One should use a fork when it is appropriate to use a fork alone, so when no cutting is required. Eating curry with just a fork is fine providing no knife is ever involved.

yani Fri 23-Nov-12 22:05:59

Please could I ask what the correct reply to, "How do you do?" is?
This greeting always throws me, so I normally offer my friendliest grin in response!

marriedinwhite Fri 23-Nov-12 22:10:07

I can't remember the last time anyone said that. But I suppose "very pleased to meet you"

omletta Fri 23-Nov-12 22:10:52

'how do you do' it's a salutation, not a question.

omletta Fri 23-Nov-12 22:13:01

Sorry - in case I am not clear; the response is 'how do you do' as well as the question.

goralka Fri 23-Nov-12 22:13:05

the correct reply is 'how do you do'

SlightlySuperiorPeasant Fri 23-Nov-12 22:14:55

Or: "How do you do what?" wink

marriedinwhite Fri 23-Nov-12 22:18:17

If anyone under 80 said it to me I think I might be inclined to have an inward sneer wink

goralka Fri 23-Nov-12 22:19:34

I honestly don't think anyone has ever said it to me....

yani Fri 23-Nov-12 22:20:43

Arf at Slightly grin

So, would one then proceed with "Pleased to meet you" or "Nice to see you again" style greetings?

hoping to meet someone who says this now smile

goralka Fri 23-Nov-12 22:22:01

no I don't think so.....i think that's it, ever so brusque.

yani Fri 23-Nov-12 22:23:47

A vet said it to me once when he came to horse yard.... and I thought it was the start of a question regarding the horse!

AnnaRack Fri 23-Nov-12 22:24:58

I was taught to answer "How do you do?" with Very well, thank you." It's a more formal way of saying "How are you?" when you first meet someone. It's largely been superseded by the more informal "Pleased to meet you".

goralka Fri 23-Nov-12 22:26:37

nope it's deffo 'how do you do/how do you do' -
grin @ yani - how do you do...............his hooves?

MorrisZapp Fri 23-Nov-12 22:32:35

Language is funny isn't it. 'How do you do' sounds comically posh, 'how are you' sounds pleasant and normal, and 'how are you doing' sounds Scottish smile

Took me years to work that one out. Always wondered why my English workmates looked a bit baffled by it.

yani Fri 23-Nov-12 22:32:40

Thank you all.
See, round 'ere greetings go something like this,
"Alright mush"
"Yeah, 'right"

Anyway, apologies for thread hi-jack.

Very bad manners blush

goralka Fri 23-Nov-12 22:35:29

yes my London greeting of 'owite?' has met with baffled stares on occasions...
one posh Aussie lady looked me up and down and said 'well yes I am all right'

AnnaRack Fri 23-Nov-12 22:50:50

People who say "See you later" when you probably won't ever see them again ...

seeker Sat 24-Nov-12 00:10:07

Noooooooooooooooooo! Never, ever "pleased to meet you!" never!

The correct response to "How do you do." is "How do you do." No inflection to indicate a question. I always get very confused when working with Americans who tend to say "Hi, how you doing" which doesn't require an answer but sounds like it should.

amillionyears only airports and hotels have lounges wink
Curry, like all foods, should be eaten with a knife and fork if in posh surroundings*. If you're out with friends or at home, then you can use just a fork. American etiquette allows much food to be eaten with a fork, but the hand that is not being used should remain on the lap. I read that the Americanism of not using a knife is from the settler-days when using a knife could be seen as an aggresive act.

*Thankfully these days we are no longer expected to eat everything except jelly with a knife and fork. I have etiquette books from the last century which said even apples and pears should be eaten with a knife and fork. Though these same books suggest that 14 year old boys should ensure that their sisters have been offered a cigarette if attending teenager parties.

AnnaRack Sat 24-Nov-12 08:39:57

This seems to have changed from a manners thread to an etiquette thread.There is a difference, and people with good manners generallly overlook breaches of etiquette.

catgirl1976 Sat 24-Nov-12 09:08:09

Good manners is not about not spilling the sauce. It is about pretending not to notice when someone else does

Or something

InNeedOfBrandy Sat 24-Nov-12 09:18:16

So is etiquette using the right fork and manners keeping your moth closed and elbows off the table while eating it.

I always thought manners were please thank you, holding the door open, and not sure what etiquette really is.

pigletmania Sat 24-Nov-12 09:19:35

YANBU good manners cost nothing, anyone can learn them

wigglybeezer Sat 24-Nov-12 09:31:09

Morris, I'm Scottish and have never clocked that "how are you doing" is a Scottish usage, bit like " where do you stay?" As a phrase to confuse non- Scots.

I have yet to receive an invite posh enough to use my knowledge of etiquette, I do know you are meant to butter small pieces of bread one bite at a time rather than butter a while slice at one go and I know to use my cutlery from the outside in.

ethelb Sat 24-Nov-12 20:15:04

Seeker out of interest why shouldn't you say you are pleased to meet them?

AnnaRack Sat 24-Nov-12 21:03:06

Ethel - yes, why? It's clearly more friendly than "How do you do?" and a bit more proactive than just saying hello.
The thing is with etiquette, nobody knows why you do stuff, but with general good manners it's obvious why you do it.

ProphetOfDoom Sat 24-Nov-12 21:22:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

catgirl1976 Sat 24-Nov-12 22:04:55

You should never answer "How do you do" with anything other than "How do you do"

It's a greeting. Not a question

marriedinwhite Sun 25-Nov-12 00:25:39

I don't care how people use a knife and fork providing they aren't pretentious. What I cannot abide are the sort of people, when others have gone to trouble to lay on a lunch, say an office lunch of just sandwiches and a few nice bits and pieces to introduce a new team or something similar, who go "ugh - I don't eat that/can't eat that", etc... That is what I call bad manners.

seeker Sun 25-Nov-12 08:31:20

"I don't care how people use a knife and fork providing they aren't pretentious"

How can you use a knife and fork in a pretentious way?

marriedinwhite Sun 25-Nov-12 09:54:55

Pretentious generally.

seeker Mon 26-Nov-12 12:21:21

Actually, I realise that I don't actually know what pretentious means!

goralka Mon 26-Nov-12 12:22:58

i think it means pretending to be something you are not.

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