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manners MATTER BY KAREN LA CORTE Where have all our manners gone? H Karen La Corte is an etiquette and manners expert trained and certified by the Emily Post Institute in Vermont. She has been teaching etiquette and manners to children and adults for over thirty years. She is also a certified image and fashion consultant. Karen is happy to answer any personal eti- quette or image questions you may have by emailing her at 70 ave we lost the basic principles of etiquette, which are Consideration, Respect, and Honesty? In this new age of “it’s all about me,” it’s difficult to assume that folks actually care about the feelings of others. You might even say that we have become a very selfish and plastic society. But, deep down do we still feel that although our outer appearance is important, it’s what’s inside that really counts? Reality TV seems to be the entertainment of choice, our dress code is getting more casual by the day, and our manner of speaking is some- times rather sharp, critical and judgmental. Are manners still relevant in society today? I say yes and more than ever. Over the years, I have seen a lot of changes in our culture. But, one thing remains the same: Manners do matter. In my quest for distinction between manners and etiquette, I had the great opportunity of attending the Emily Post Institute in Vermont in 2013. Emily Post wrote a book about etiquette in 1922 when she was 50 years old. It became the second best-selling non-fiction after the Bible. Eighteen editions were published over the next 94 years. Prior to writing about eti- quette, Emily wrote romance novels about the turn of the century. She wrote stories of women getting married, divorced, or widowed and their lives in society or in Europe. The success of her first etiquette book was due to the fact that it spoke to the burgeoning middle class of America that was mushrooming as a result of the industrial revolution and the migration of people from rural areas to urban and suburban areas. It was an era of increased wealth and leisure time. This first book on etiquette appealed to the masses because it told people in prac- tical, no-nonsense terms how to build rela- tionships with their neighbors, new friends, acquaintances, and work colleagues. It gave people a roadmap to understand what to do and what to expect people to do in return, and people wanted to know that! The Emily Post Institute was created in 1946 as a way to continue to promote etiquette in America. GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN MARCH/APRIL 2016 Today, just as in 1922, etiquette is really a means of building great relationships. One day when Emily was answering letters, she discovered over a dozen questions about which fork a person should use. Her frustration got the bet- ter of her and she told her secretary to write the people and say she didn’t care which fork they used. Considering today’s definition of etiquette, the fact is that it doesn’t matter which fork you use, what really matters is that you use a fork! Etiquette is a big fancy word made up of two parts. There are manners, lots of them, in fact. “Please” and “thank you,” holding doors, chewing with our mouths closed, dressing appropriately, shaking hands – these are important because they give us confidence, allow our focus to be on the substance of our interactions, and they tell us what to do and what to expect others to do in return. Plus, they’re nice. But etiquette also expresses something more, something we call “the principles of etiquette.” These are Consideration, Respect and Honesty — the three qualities that stand behind all good manners. They are timeless and cross cultural boundaries, unlike manners, which can change over time and differ around the world. Take for example the handshake, a classic Western greeting. The handshake is the manner. In ancient Rome, people grasped forearms to greet one another; in Asia many people bow when meeting. These are all examples of manners. But the idea that we shake hands, grasp forearms, or bow to show respect and welcome another person is both universal and timeless. That’s the principle at work. I am pleased to have this opportunity to bring you my take on an array of topics regarding the nuances of today’s social graces including Business Etiquette, Holidays and Celebrations, Communication and Technology, Image and more. I hope you enjoy my new column.