Mastering small talk, responding well to a text message, knowing what to bring to a dinner... the new rules of etiquette. Do you need to know how to fold your napkin to succeed in life? What polite formula should you use at the end of an email? How should you behave in today's world? The rules of etiquette have changed: new experts are working to modernize them.
Famous experts in etiquette and manners, have modernized the rules of etiquette through her Netflix show, Mind Your Manners. She teaches candidates how to become "the best version of themselves" through a mix of confidence and playfulness, which includes mastering the pronunciation of German words like "Königliche Porzellan Manufaktur" and even twerking with her students. Sara Jane Ho sees good manners as a way of being in the world, and in 2024, she will release an English-language book compiling her advice with her unique tone that belongs only to her.
The renewed interest in the codes of good manners has led to New York Magazine dedicating an entire issue on the best way to "exist politely in today's world." The magazine addresses modern and broader issues, such as giving Covid to a boss, sending a professional message to a colleague at midnight, and asking people how much they paid for their apartment. Dominique Picard, a psychosociologist, explains that good manners allow each person to find their place in relation to others and perform social functions in a ritualized and codified way. However, these rules have never been fixed and evolve according to society and the new forms of contact between individuals.
Marie de Tilly, a French expert in manners, states that wishing someone bon appétit is not impolite and is actually quite nice. Sara Jane Ho also believes that putting elbows on the table is no longer a crime, as this rule was created at a time when everyone carried a weapon, and you needed to show that your hands were empty. Today, good manners are primarily about making people feel comfortable, and it is essential to learn how to respond well to a text message, know what to bring to a dinner, and master small talk.
The digital age, with its WhatsApp groups, emojis, and other dating apps, has once again reshuffled the deck of good manners. "Emails, for example, have simplified our lives," notes Marie De Tilly, a coach in French etiquette and lifestyle, who also gives advice on TikTok. "No one misses the convoluted formulas of politeness that we couldn't understand. It has streamlined relationships, even if we still have to show some respect for others." By saying "thank you" or "please," formulas that, let us reassure ourselves, will never go out of fashion.
The fact that children are less socially upwardly mobile than their parents is new," analyzes the psychosociologist Dominique Picard. After the war, social upward mobility was more normal. But today, there are unemployed graduates, as well as people who make a fortune without necessarily having had a long education or coming from a privileged background. So we have lost certain reference points. And just as in the past, we inquired about the job prospects of a diploma, today we seek to understand the codes, behaviors of an environment in which we want to evolve.
But do you really need to manage your small talk to succeed in life (according to Sara Jane Ho, "more than 20 seconds, you're boring. Beyond 40, you're officially self-centered")? Is mastering the art of buttering toast (by positioning the blade of your knife at a precise angle of 90°) still relevant at a time when we encourage everyone to be themselves and not worry about being in the norm? Some people think they are too honest, too authentic to comply with the rules of etiquette. It makes no sense. Etiquette is not about lying about yourself or to others. If, at a dinner, you are asked what you think of a dish whose taste is terrible, you can dodge the question, or ask your host how he found tomatoes in the middle of winter. By doing this, you offend no one, and you are not lying either. Whatever our desire to be unique, deep down, we all want to belong. And good manners can help us do that.
The rules of etiquette have changed, and experts l are working to modernize them. Good manners are essential in finding your place in relation to others and performing social functions in a ritualized and codified way. However, these rules have never been fixed and evolve according to society and the new forms of contact between individuals. Today, good manners are primarily about making people feel comfortable, and it is essential to learn how to respond well to a text message, know what to bring to a dinner, and master small talk.
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