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Etiquette is still important

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By Tom Hanlon

In today’s less formal society and the ever-changing ways we communicate with each other, one can often forget that manners and etiquette should still be practiced. 

Sure, today’s teens may not be as well-trained in etiquette as those raised in the 1950s,  but what I find shocking is that too many adults don’t use the manners they were taught as children. 

Having recently invited friends and families to a dinner event, I was confronted with the problem of how much food to prepare, so I included an RSVP on the invitation.

While most of those invited responded by phone or through the email address I provided, I was surprised by those who did not respond at all, even after my follow-up phone messages. 

Sadly, these people might not know what RSVP means. It is the French acronym for repondez s’il vous plait, which means please respond — whether you are attending or not. Some people might think it means respond only if you are coming. Others may think it means only, respond with regrets.

 Famous for writing on etiquette, author Emily Post, (1872 – 1960) states that, “Anyone receiving an invitation with an RSVP on it is obliged to reply.” 

Recent editions of her book, “Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home,” say that not following this standard is “inexcusably rude.” 

When hosting an event, especially one with food, the host or hostess needs to know how many people are going to be in attendance.

When someone does not RSVP, even if not attending, the host is left wondering how much food and drink to prepare, or is left with the uncomfortable task of chasing an invitee for an answer to the invitation.
The same courtesy regarding thank you notes applies. 

When I was younger, I always hated sitting down to write thank you notes for birthday, holiday and special occasion gifts I received. But saying thank you to someone for a kindness has always been — and still is — good manners. 

My parents taught me that fact of life, just like they taught me the importance of brushing my teeth. 

A handwritten thank you note lets the recipient know that you really are thankful for their gift to you. When you go through the trouble of personally writing to them and send it through the mail, it emphasizes your gratitude, much more than an e-card. 

Emily Post’s website Etipedia, indicates that procrastination is probably the reason people do not respond to the RSVP or take time to write a thank you note. 

The best policy is to respond as soon as possible, before you forget.
I don’t know if etiquette classes are around anymore. If they are, they need to be stepped up a notch. 

Or more people should be enrolled in them because it seems there are fewer people using manners these days. 

 If you are an adult, please dust off those manners, polish up on etiquette and pass on those good old fashioned and important values to the next generation.