Children should be trained early on by their parents about manners. It is past the toddler stage when we begin applying those manners to the rules of etiquette. We should always be civil toward and respectful of others, even when we disagree. The goal of this ongoing column is to help our readers learn about social graces—a disappearing—almost art form of politeness, good manners and etiquette. Think of manners and etiquette as being socially smart, thus the name of our column, “Socially Smart.”
PolitiChicks: Lainie, you’ve been writing for PolitiChicks since it first became a content-based website in 2012. Now you’re alternating this column with your daughter, Shannon. Why a column about manners and etiquette?
Lainie Sloane: Manners and etiquette should be an important part of everyone’s personal and professional lives. If someone has not learned them in their home or in their formative years, it is never too late. I have always had five key motivators in my life which I also instilled in Shannon. They were given to me by my Dad’s, a WWII veteran, a SeaBee with their motto, “Can Do.” My career accomplishments and maintaining my lifelong friendships are evidence of living by these:
- Always strive for excellence in everything you say and do.
- The Golden Rule (Treat others the way you want to be treated.)
- Set realistic goals, but always strive to achieve above and beyond them.
- Never, never give up on what you set out to do; always complete what you start.
- Never use the words, “I can’t.” Always think positively.
Shannon and I would like to share with our readers our knowledge of manners and etiquette, so you might see some generational differences. We might share an embarrassing moment or two—just maybe—and what each of us learned from those. A sense of humor plays a part in overcoming or covering a social faux pas (socially awkward moments).
As a member of the Baby Boomers, manners were an important part of our society—even more so in the century before I was born. My dad came from a Midwest, poor, farming family and always said, “You don’t have to have money to have manners.” In other words, aristocrats don’t have the market cornered on manners and etiquette. My mother was raised in a fairly well-to-do family, so she made sure I always “minded my “p’s” and “q’s” (behaved) and saw to it that I was appropriately dressed.
As a teenager, I was always told that I should be a model, and I actually talked my parents into letting me go to a finishing school during the summer break when I was in high school. Finishing schools, also known as charm schools, were part of my generation as they were with a couple of generations before me. We were taught how to “carry ourselves” with grace, how to enter a room, how to sit in a chair, manners, and interview techniques for our career choices. Other topics were to let a man be a man (opening and closing doors for the females). It was the closest I could get to a modeling school, but we did learn runway modeling.
After graduating, I approached my dad with the idea of moving to New York to model when I turned 18. That didn’t happen, but when I was in my late 20s, I opened a “modeling and charm school,” where I taught runway modeling and coached pageant contestants. My husband was an emcee for different pageant systems, so we worked well together. As part of that venture, I also held “mini charm schools” at a local department store teaching manners and etiquette to girls aged 6 to 12 and helped organize and modeled in many benefit fashion shows in our community.
Politichicks: Shannon, is there an area of your life where manners play a bigger part than others?
Shannon Sloane: Not really. Manners and etiquette have been important to me in all areas of my life as long as I can remember. Mom made sure!
PolitiChicks: Did you attend a finishing school like your mom?
Shannon Sloane: I don’t recall any finishing schools being available when I was a teenager, but perhaps it was because my mom owned the modeling and charm school. I used to hang out there after my classes in high school. I would observe as well as modeled in community and benefit fashion shows.
A friend recently told me that I have “graciousness.” It was such a wonderful compliment and was proof that I learned to apply the manners and etiquette I was taught. We are not always aware of how our character traits and behavior is noticed by others, but once we learn or acquire them, they are a huge asset in all areas of our lives. It works the opposite too; if we are rude to others or to use a crude example, burp loudly during dinner, whether it be at home with your family or in public with friends or business acquaintances—if you are not already aware you broke a manner’s standing rule—you will know you did something wrong just by the horrified looks on their faces.
PolitiChicks: Since you are single, Shannon, what manners and etiquette advice do you have to offer our single readers of dating age?
Shannon: As I mentioned earlier, manners and etiquette should be an important part of our personal and professional lives. That would include dating as well. We do not turn them on in one area and turn them off in another. If you are a well-mannered person, then it is a given you do not want to be with someone who behaves the opposite.
PolitiChicks: The title is ‘Socially Smart’—what does this mean?
Lainie and Shannon: “Socially Smart” is a title we ‘borrowed’ (under the U.S. Copyright Act, book titles cannot be copyrighted) from a dear friend of ours, Deborah Pegues Smith, who writes for Harvest House Publishers. One of her books is titled, “Socially Smart in 60 Seconds.” We will refer to some of her great material in our column as well as some very informative quotes from Dr. Gina Loudon and Dr. Dathan Paterno’s book, “Ladies and Gentlemen: Why the Survival of Our Republic Depends on the Revival of Honor.” Of course, our original material will be the main source.