Saturday, November 11, 2006

Ms Eisa's etiquette tips for Australian cricketers

The national dailies have given ample coverage to the uncouth behaviour of the Aussie cricket team and the strong reaction and protests that the incident has attracted. In my opinion this is a rather shameful lack of etiquette. I wonder though if it has been recognized so.

However before we begin any condemnation I hasten to recount my own experiences. This morning I was amused when arriving along with another invitee, at an official luncheon, the chauffeur of the official car in which we were traveling, nonchalantly sprang out to open the car door for the male leaving me to fend for myself. To add insult to injury, the livery at the posh five star hotel was quick to open the doors for the men quite oblivious of the women. And a boorish man almost collided with me in an effort to beat me through the door.

Though I hate to admit it, I realize we are in the midst of an “etiquette crises”. Over the last few decades the lack of etiquette has translated into a “rudeness crises”. Full fledged brawls or slinging matches erupt at the slightest provocation. How often have we lost a good deal by offending the sales person with an arrogant attitude? A junior staffer once landed in an awful predicament having to walk bare foot to work when a person stepped on her heel snapping the strap of her sandal. So much for personal space! Another arrived flustered and distraught after an unruly alteration with a group of militant women in the local train-Bad road etiquette can drive even the most passive into a flaming rage and queue jumping can make the mildest of tempers to flare! Yet we do not recognize this as a problem.

All this is not the inane rambling of a crank, but a valiant effort to prove a point.
The problem with rude behaviour is that most people do not recognize it as a problem. Behaviour is regulated by the law when etiquette fails or when violations against life, limb or property occur. This unwritten, tacit code of conduct is what assists living harmoniously in a community and man, - a social animal- unless living in solitary confinement, is a member of society”. Even animals adhere to the law of the jungle!

The problem is compounded by the reality that most don’t understand what etiquette is! So what is etiquette? Respect, good manners and good behaviour all rolled into one would be your etiquette. The Oxford dictionary defines it as ‘the code of polite behaviour in society’ There is also a misconception that etiquette is a sort of ritual for the snobs or that it is a frivolous pastime not to be taken seriously. Etiquette is about human social behaviour - your conduct in any public or private setting. To stress the need for etiquette would be to state the obvious.

What can we do?

Start with the common courtesies. Please and thank you are two simple words that evoke the maximum pleasure and well being.
Respect women and the elders.
Open doors and stand aside for them to precede you indoors.
Offer them your seat. Escort a lady walking along side and not leaving her to trail several steps behind dodging portholes.
Watch your language while in the presence of the women folk and senior citizens.
Wait your turn in queues that is what they were designed for in the first place.
At a restaurant, let the lady walk ahead of you to be seated. Hold her chair out while she is being seated.
Ask for her preference in the menu before placing the order.
If you are the host or hostess it is good manners that you pay the bill unless, of course, you have decided to go “Dutch”
How peaceful and calm the world would be if people stopped jumping queues, crowding entrances sticking chest to derriere in a line or check in or out counter.

Finally I suggest that you do not fall into the trap of those who say that they don’t care about etiquette but object to the conduct of others towards them. If you behave in a way that offends the people that you are trying to deal with, they will stop dealing with you.

It appears however that we are not the only country in the throes of an etiquette crisis. The Australian Cricket captain, it seems, might need a crash course.

by Rukshana Eisa.


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