The Power of Manners

By admin
22 January 2014

Your granny wasn’t lying when she said that being polite goes a long way.

Ever been left with egg on your face after showing up to a party empty-handed, while apparently everyone else got the memo to bring something? Newsflash – there was no memo. The other guests knew the Rules of Social Etiquette. We (very politely) asked Anna Musson, etiquette expert and founder of The Good Manners Company, how to brush up our skills.

At a dinner or party

“Always ask what you can bring,” Anna says. “It's good manners for the host to say 'nothing', but a good guest will always bring something.” Think homemade cupcakes, classy chocolates or flowers.

When you RSVP

“RSVP means ‘please respond’ in French, so you must say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ - never just ‘I’m RSVP-ing’,” she says. “If you’re not sure if you can make it, RSVP 'no'. You can always change it to 'yes' later, but leaving people hanging is not good form.”  The same rules apply for Facebook invites, Anna says. “As well as replying with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ RSVP, turn up on time and only bring who you said you would bring (and definitely don't forward the invitation).”

On public transport

There’s nothing worse than a loud, irritating person in a train/bus/taxi. So how do you avoid being That Person?

“Say good morning to the driver, it will make you both feel happier,” Anna suggests. “If you’re going to give your seat up for an adult or someone who looks like they need it, stand up before you offer, otherwise they might feel too bad to take it.”

Anna says the other biggest etiquette fails are having long phone conversations (“The best response is to say, ‘I'm just on the train, I'll call you back soon’”) and having your music up so loud others can hear it through your headphones (“Even worse is playing it straight out of your phone's speaker - incredibly inconsiderate!”).

Cancelling plans

Bailing on plans is the easiest way to earn a reputation as a flaky friend, so be a good buddy. “If it’s a big occasion, a phone call with an explanation is best and will ensure your relationship stays intact,” Anna advises. An e-mail is also a good option with a text at the bottom of the good manners list. The closer to the event, the better it is to call. “Think of how you would feel if the role was reversed.”

Awesome thing to do

Send a thank-you card

An actual hard-copy piece of paper via snail mail may seem old-school – but that’s the whole point. In today’s instant society, a handwritten note feels special and thoughtful. “Thanking someone by text is fine and is definitely better than no thanks at all – but older generations definitely prefer a handwritten card to an e-mail or an e-card which, let’s face it, takes very little time or effort.” Buy some pretty paper and let loose!


The constantly growing world of tech gadgets and social media is enough to make a manners guru’s head explode. Anna shares a few important rules.


- Resist checking your phone constantly when with people.

- Don’t have a crazy-loud ringtone.

- Never use your phone at dinner. “It shouldn’t even be seen at the dinner table.”

- Keep it off or on silent when at school.


- Don’t post pics where you look great but your friends do NOT.

- Don’t suddenly “add” your best friend’s ex on FB. Hello, girl/guy code!

- When someone writes on your wall or sends you FB b’day wishes, why not write back? It’s much nicer than just hitting “like”.

Place setting 101

- Lots of cutlery? Start from the outside and work your way in with each course.

- Show you’re finished by placing your knife and fork face-up together on the plate.

- The dessert utensils should be above your plate.

- Your glass should be positioned to the right of your plate.

- Always wait for everyone to be served before you start eating.

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