5.18.2014

Etiquette Chat: Common Courtesy Greeting



In today's Etiquette Chat we discuss the art of the common courtesy greeting. You know what it's like. You're walking down the sidewalk in your neighborhood and someone is walking toward you. Perhaps you are both walking your dogs or you are on your way to run errands. As the person approaches you look at them and smile or nod expecting the same courtesy in return but they just keep on walking without acknowledging you at all.

The common courtesy greeting, the kind you give to your neighbors as you pass them in the morning, the kind you give to a store clerk before you ask them a question, the kind you give to the lady ringing up your purchases at the grocery store are not trivial, but very important. These greetings bring us out of our heads. They help build community and might even begin to thaw the most frozen of hearts.



Today's chat is lively and fun (and includes a star cameo from Gatsby!) but in all seriousness discusses a small gesture that can bring a little bit of respect and civility back to our society. If you are unable to see this week's video, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or visit my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur


Madame Chic Inspiring Thought



Last Thursday my husband and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. Eight years of marriage and two children later, what a wonderful feeling. Relationships can be challenging. They can be hard, but the great thing is that they provide an opportunity for you to constantly work on yourself.

There is no hiding from your "issues" when you are in a committed relationship. My best marriage advice is to appreciate the one you're with. Focus on all of their many gifts, their strong suits, and the things about them that you are grateful for. Avoid the "grass is always greener on the other side" syndrome by constantly reminding yourself of the small pleasures that this person brings to your life on a daily basis. Mr. Connoisseur... I am grateful for you!

This week I would love to know... what are your thoughts on the common courtesy greeting? Any great marriage advice you can share with us? Any requests for future etiquette videos? Let me know in the comment section.

See you soon! x


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30 comments:

Madeleine Lawrence said...

Hi Jennifer,

when I walk in my neighborhood I not only smile at everyone I pass, I say 'good morning' as well. I find that nine times out of ten, the person then can't resisit and says hello back! Sometimes it's an elderly person and they might stop and have a chat, especially if I've got the dog with me.

I wouldn't dream of asking a shop assistant for something without first greeting them, even though I live in Australia, not France. As I live in a large country town (26000 people) , this is pretty much standard behaviour - I'm not so sure about the cities anymore.

I think etiquette is part of the fabric that glues our societies together, and we must make an effort not to lose our manners. Case in point, sending a thank you card on receipt of a gift via the post, or after a wonderful dinner party. Or thanking the admin staff with a card or gift at Christmas time, or your home help if you have it. This serves the dual function of uplifting others, and making you realise you are indeed lucky to be in receipt of help/gifts/invitations.

Have a wonderful day,

Madeleine.X

Marija Charlton said...

Hi Jennifer,

First if all, congratulations to you and Mr Connoisseur on your 8th Wedding Anniversary!

With regards to greeting etiquette, I am completely at one with you! A greeting is a simple acknowledgment of the other person - a here we are, in this space together, let us extend a 'hand' of kindness and best wishes towards each other.
My husband and I live in beautiful Byron Bay in Australia. Most early mornings, we go for a walk around the local lighthouse. As with most habits, we are not the only ones, and through the months, we have met many locals on our walks. A chirpy good morning, sometimes small talk about the weather, or the climb follows. Except for one particular lady. We extended greetings and smiles to her on numerous occasions with absolutely no reciprocity. Nothing.
The result being that my husband no longer greets her. However, I am not so easily thrown off course :-). I continue to smile and greet her, and I figure, one day, one day she will have no option but to say hello - and what a lovely day that will be!

With the warmest of regards,
Marija

PS. You have mentioned in a few of your posts how much you like hearing about the royal families, and I have stumbled on a blog that keeps almost daily posts and photos. It is in French, and I believe that the owner is from Denmark. The address: http://princessesblog76.blogspot.dk

said...

Hi Jennifer,
I live in a really big city (São Paulo, about 12 million people), in a building in a very nice neighborhood, and sadly, its common to see neighbors walking on the street and they don't greet you eventhough they have seen me. Only the elder people have the habit of greeting you and being polite. I think we live in a very self centered society and the basic manners that makes us a community are being lost.
Despite of that, I'll try to greet my neighbors even if they don't greet me back. Someone have to start, don't you think?
Cheers

Claire said...

Bon Jour, Jennifer!
Happy Anniversary!

I don't know why, but my smile of greeting often makes people giggle in my little city of Portland, Oregon. I often wonder, do I have a goofy smile? Or is their giggle one reflecting my own joy to be out on a walk on a beautiful day?

We recently celebrated our 39th Wedding Anniversary. I think you're making a very good start with Monsieur, by looking presentable always. Of course, he loves you no matter what, but why take advantage? Save up looking slouchy for sick days, etc.

Also, serve presentable food as well, setting a lovely table. Even daisies in a jar can make a table charming. My husband and I never keep accounts, but each strive to give 100% to the relationship. It has sustained us during many calamities.
Adieu,
Claire Germain

Rose said...

Bonjour Mme Jennifer, exactement! I find speaking to people rather than simply smiling elicits a comment more often than not. Etiquette is so important, it binds us rather than separates us.

Congratulations to you and Mr Connoisseur! On the same day my husband and I celebrated our 38th anniversary.

Regarding future etiquette posts: would you address the issue of what to do when someone speaks on a mobile phone and you are unable to withdraw from their presence. I find it terribly awkward, I know it's their bad manners when it happens but what do you do?

Imelda Gerard said...

Congratulations to you two!

We eloped at the tender ages of 21. We shared 24 wonderful years and look forward to many more. Our advice is never go to bed mad and never share our troubles with family or friends.

Rayna St. Pierre said...

Congratulations Jennifer! Eight years of marriage! Two children! Two books!

Being friendly and kind is so important - what we radiate out to the word really matters! Of course many times the unfriendly people are just caught up in their own issues, and your one little greeting reminds them that there really is some good in the world! I've found that when I make a conscious effort to look for the good, I find it! All around!

I do think it helps living in a small town (we live on the outskirts of what is aptly called a village).

As for marriage advice...my husband and I will be married ten years in October, so we're not very far ahead of you! I'm so thankful for my husband (such kindness! integrity! honesty!). As for me, I try not to nag and to remember that I set the tone for our little family of five. If I wake up miserable, it really does make everyone feel sad! If I forge ahead with pleasantness, everyone feels that, and the mornings go so much more smoothly.

So dressed and ready to go - like Madame Chic!

AmandaM said...

Hi Jennifer
I love saying hi to people when I'm out walking. And lucky me, most people say hi back. It's a habit I seem to have passed on to my boys as they are always greeting passersby too. It certainly makes our walks more pleasant and entertaining!
Congratulations on your anniversary. My husband and I are about a year behind you. As far as advice goes, the best I've ever heard is this one:
Marriage isn't about standing face to face and looking at each other. That's a wedding. A marriage is about standing side by side, and looking forward in the same direction.
Very poignant, I thought.
Have a lovely week :)
Amanda

Ann G. R. said...

Hi Jennifer!

Congratulations to you and Mr. Connoisseur! Happy Anniversary.

This year my husband and I celebrate our 25th. I can honestly say that the only way we got this far is by taking it one day at a time and not giving up when things get rough. I can't say it's always been easy, but can I definitely say it's been worth it.

I did want to thank you for bringing up the topic of public greetings and etiquette. It does confound me - the rudeness and lack of 'niceties' in public - sometimes. I, too, like to greet others with a smile and a greeting or at least with a smile and a nod if they are chatting. Sometimes nothing is returned and it puzzles me.

One other thing that bugs me is when others don't share the sidewalk. If the three of us are walking side by side on the sidewalk and we meet others coming our way, before we get close, we move to single-file on the far right edge of the sidewalk so we all can pass. Time after time, others don't do the same and continue to walk side-by-side, two or three abreast, so we are forced off the sidewalk into the grass to avoid colliding. Or else they just pass, taking most of the sidewalk, and bump shoulders. That is so rude. It's like they feel they are more important and have the right to bulldoze through. It feels more than indifferent but a bit aggressive. Maybe I need continue to work on my 'Agreements' to be less sensitive and not take it personal (?) Ha ha.

I think all we can do is to continue spreading smiles and lightness to whomever we meet. Maybe that will rub off on someone, or touch them in some small way. I always think of that scene in Under the Tuscan Sun, when that stony old man she'd greet each day without any reaction final responds to her. I guess we never know what the other person is dealing with, but we can hope that the kindness permeates them somehow.

Keep on spreading the joy of refinement and appreciation of the little things! We'll continue to look forward to your next post.

Ann G R

Patricia J said...

Hi Jennifer,
Congratulations! The only advice would be (to continue) to say kind things to each other.
Yes to saying hello in my neighborhood, sometimes followed by lovely day or what a beautiful dog. Occasionally someone says nothing in return. I just think they have something wrong, but am a little curious why.
Slightly off topic, I am saddened to see young moms pushing a child and chatting away on a phone instead of talking to the child about all they are seeing on the walk. The phone will always be there, but the child won't.

Thank you for such a lovely blog,

PJ

Charlene said...

Joyeux huitieme anniversaire de mariage! May you have many, many more! Considering how much you've accomplished in your eight years, I would say you've got your act together and probably don't need much advice.
Where I live now (small town in the southeast), I find that people almost always speak or acknowledge in some way those they meet on the street. However when I lived in the northeast, I was surprised to find that the neighbors I met while I was out walking would actually turn away so they wouldn't have to speak. I never really got used to that, but finally decided they were just more reserved than Southerners. It does seem really rude to me though so I totally understand how you feel.

Rita said...

Anne G.R. - about the 3 approaching from the opposite direction and not moving over, I would be tempted to stop before they reached me, then just stay in place! They will either move over or walk into you. If they walk into you because they were expecting you to move, they will be very embarassed, I guarantee it! Hopefully, they will remember to be more careful next time!

About those not returnng a greeting, I thought that was rude, but a friend who vacationed in Germany every year said that people out on the walking path didn't greet others because they were respecting a person's right to solitude, or privacy. That gave me another perspective.

Susan M. said...

Hi, I like to greet people in my neighbourhood, sometimes in stores, or other public places like the library. But I try to read people's signals; some people do not want to interact or are not ready to do so for whatever reason. I don't need to intrude on their privacy, so I just refrain from greeting if some people show with their body language that they're not interested or ready. I don't usually simply smile; if I greet, I actually say hello or hi. That might make the difference to getting a (pleasant) response, which I almost always get. But as I said, I try to be a little selective. And some people are obviously on the phone or preoccupied, so what is the point of intruding?
Did you find that in France people are not so much in the habit of talking to strangers. The shopkeepers are different and indeed must be greeted. But the rest? They generally keep to themselves, right? What did Mme Chic do? I'm a little curious! merci pour tout - Susan

Laura Kelly said...

Hi Jennifer!
I live in a town of about 80,000 people in Colorado.
I have always greeted people as I pass by. If it is a total stranger I smile, I may nod or say good morning depending on the overall feel of the situation.
I know my close neighbors by name but I stop and chat with other neighbors even if I do not know their names. We know we are neighbors and that is enough for some small talk about the weather, pets, or yard work.
I also was in customer service in the past and I always greet a customer service worker before asking for help.
I would love to see etiquette make a comeback in our society. No more Jerry Springer behavior!

Laura


Maureen said...

Thank you for this post! I notice the same strange behavior when I walk my dog--people act as though I'm invisible! When I see someone approach, I smile and prepare to say "hello," but about 50% of the time, the person behaves as if I'm not there. It's creepy!

I lived in Germany for a while, and over there, it's considered quite rude to walk by someone without some kind of basic acknowledgment.

Let's bring good etiquette back!

Edy Mat said...

Hello Jennifer,
You have got beautyful necklace! Can I ask about where you get this? thank you :-)

Andrea Lazarus said...

I agree with Maureen-- I've also lived in Germany for a bit, and I was always amazed at the small but polite conversations that people would have with shopkeepers and store clerks upon entering and leaving stores.

In regard to marriage advice, at our wedding, my husband's longest-married uncle and aunt had some advice for us: "Choose the right one." It sounds so simple, but as we near our five-year wedding anniversary I realize how true that statement is! Being with a wonderful person certainly makes marriage much easier. :)

rosary said...

Forgive me for chiming in once again, but obviously so many of us love your post, Jennifer!

Imagine my surprise when I offer a pleasant morning greeting to someone with earplugs in. . .

crickets!

Single Socks said...

One of the best pieces of relationship advice came from a gentleman who was giving out his secret to 75 (!) years of marriage...it was the words "I'm sorry, forgive me."....(I keep reminding my husband that those are the only words he needs, lol!)

MT said...

Congratulations on 8 years! My husband and I have just celebrated 20 years together. Advice? Not sure if it's advice but we try to do something for the other everyday. The inverse of keeping score. More about ensuring everyday that our life witness knows In some small way that they matter above all others. It maybe a cup of tea to wake up to or a favorite sandwich in the lunch box or it could just be the comfort of routine or when life gets hectic it could be as simple as a note written on the mirror with erasable maker. Along the same lines that you share with your wonderful blog and book - life and relationships are In the details. It's the small things that end up mattering most. Like a nod to the passerby on the side walk.

Thank you for taking the time and the risk to remind us of the social graces that make life better. Be well.

Unknown said...

On the subject of greetings, and etiquette. I lived in a small southern town for many years, and almost everyone who passed you on the road while driving their cars would wave. Just a quick hand up in the air.... Also, anyone sitting on their porches would wave at everyone driving by. That my dear, is Southern hospitality.

Greentable said...

Since I had similar experiences with smiling and greeting, I started an experiment: a few yards before we actually meet I think /feel : oh what a nice person, and focus on something positive, like their way of walking, their hat, their colour choice, hairdo, etc etc, whatever strikes me the first about them, then I smile inwardly and when we come face to face I look at them and smile, often saying out loud, hello.... It works! Not with everyone, but my 'succesrate' is much higher when I do this...and it has become a habit, which i feel simply great about.

janet mckay said...

Good Morning Jennifer! I am a midwest girl transplanted also in Southern ca. When my husband and I married 36 yrs ago and I moved out to Ca. I remember how different it all seemed to me. Fences, everyone in their own world...and then there was "me"...miss friendly. People actually were afraid I wanted something from them! My first Christmas I baked cookie and knocked on the neighbors door...they opened it gingerly, I explained what I wanted to give them...they reached out..took the plate of cookies and closed the door! Ummmm??? Needless to say i didn't get to know those neighbors well.
Now I live in a more rural area. My husband and I walk our dog daily and a couple also take their walk about the same time. Every single time I smile and say Hello..you can tell they "DONT want to communicate" with me...it pains them to connect?? Whats the deal? But nine out of ten times if one is greeted friendly, a friendly response is given. Can't change who I am but it is a bit awkward when one doesn't get any reply or knows they hope nothing is said...sad.
Congratulations on your 8th Anniversary. You are a lovely looking couple and pray you will celebrate one another daily. Life is short and whatever "irks" you today will usually disappear tomorrow so keep focusing on the blessings,
Warmly,
Jan

Winnie said...

Yes! I always say hello and good morning and get some great, and funny, responses from people. While walking my dog, I said "good morning" to a man and he didn't respond. After he walked passed me he called out to me to apologize for not responding immediately as his mind was elsewhere, but he said how much he appreciated my greeting! I'd like to think it improved his day.
I work at a public library and make an effort to greet as many people who walk through out doors. Some people grumble, others smile and reply, but many now stop to chat. Not only do I feel like I might in some small way improve their day, but saying hello and smiling always puts me in a better mood!
Grat discussion starter!

Best,
Winnie

Evaline said...

Congratulations, Jennifer, on you anniversary. As for sidewalk greetings, I smile and greet and most people respond in kind. When they don't, I have to say I feel badly, even though rationally I know that it should not. But I still keep on smiling and greeting.

Vicki Zimmerman said...

Belated anniversary greetings to you and Mr. Connoisseur; you make a striking couple and it was fun to get a glimpse of him in action at the end of your tea video.

This was a wonderful post about communicating with others through a proper courtesy greeting and I share your thoughts here. When you explained how it makes one feels, when you worked in sales and retail, that was an excellent example of how treating each other as part of one common universe is essential to better daily living. Thank you, Jennifer!

Joy said...

I'm catching up on my Daily Connoisseur videos after a recent move where, finally, the dust is settling, and I just have to say, Bravo!! Thanks SO much for saying this! My husband and I went for walks every evening in our last neighborhood, and we were both astonished at how few people returned a common courtesy greeting. Ironically, it was a loop trail, so we'd usually see the person we greeted at least once more. Then it gets super awkward. Do you say hi again and risk a double snub?? (Usually we did.)
I think what people don't understand is how much they risk missing out on with the common courtesy snub. My family moves a lot (married to a Navy officer), and as I write this, I think of the many friendships that have started in so many locations just with that simple "Good morning!" or "Hi!" In fact, one of my dearest friend/ mentors, a woman 38 years older than me, is someone who walked every morning at the same place and time, who I just exchanged friendly hellos with a few weeks before finally she asked if we could walk together. If I had snubbed her, gosh, I would have missed out on a treasure!
So thank you!! Once again, I'm so glad you're doing what you're doing with this blog! Keep it up!
And, congrats on the 8 years! Here's to many many more!

Sprm said...

Jennifer,

You are right on topic. I would like to know what the other person thinks/gets while not returning the greeting.

What if your peer sitting right next to you dont return a greeting when you greet him in the morning. He would greet my lead/Manager. This started recently as he moved up and i am noticing he snubs everyday morning if its just me and him. How do we politely handle this situation ? . I greet people with a smile and a word or two irrespective of their position in the company, in the elevator, in the pantry or even in the ladies room .

Sprm said...

Congratulations on your anniversary !!

Michelle Bush said...

Bon soir!

I think you'd find this practice is far more common in the Southeastern states. I live in Alabama, and it is far LESS common here for people to NOT acknowledge one another. Even if I'm in my front yard, as people drive through my neighborhood, we'll raise a hand to each other in greeting. When walking, there's usually a smile and nod, and often a, "How're you?" as well. The manners here are much more old fashioned, which I appreciate.

I grew up in New Jersey, and while I don't feel the people there are particularly rude, they lack the niceties and better manners of the south. If one doesn't address/respond to one's elders with, "Yes, ma'am/sir," one is considered ill mannered. We teach our 3 children to address our peers and elders as, "Mr. Steve," or, "Miss Sue (even the married ladies)." Upon entering a store, an employee almost always says, "Welcome to "______," or, "Hey, how're y'all doin' today?" It's very friendly. When I first moved down here for college, I thought it was strange at first. :)

I also noticed that when I was an exchange student in Argentina after high school, when my host parents would enter a room, even a waiting room at the doctor's office, they would smile, nod, and say, "Que tal (How do you do)?" to everyone in the room as a whole. My problem with this sort of thing is that I can be very shy. But that's something I'm trying to overcome. One can't very well be reserved AND warm and friendly at the same time. :) The very definition of "charming," after all, is, "(of a person or manner) polite, friendly, and likeable."

 
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