Diane Gottsman sets the record straight on modern manners.
It may seem like pleasantries and manners are a lost art, in a modern society like the one we live in; and perhaps to some individuals it is. However at Travel Fabulously, we believe that manners are an essential asset to acquire, regardless of your family status or last name. So much so, that we have kindly compiled a list of friendly suggestions that can still be applied to modern situations, with the aid of Diane Gottsman; a national etiquette expert who is known throughout the United States of America for her polite manner.
Diane originally from the South, is the perfect individual to insight us all on how to approach certain situations because in addition to her advice website, she also founded The Protocol School of Texas. And aside from the British, Southern Belle’s are known for their charm worldwide!
What sort of topics is appropriate at a dinner party? “As a guest at a dinner party, your job is to be an interesting conversationalist, as well as a thoughtful listener. This requires you to do your homework. Learn about other people’s interests, research hot topics (not politics or religion) and be ready to shine.”
What topics should be avoided at a dinner party? “Politics, religion, gossip are the standards that make other people wince out of frustration or boredom. It takes work to talk about things other than negative news. Make an effort to find out what’s trending and educate yourself on topics that will be of interest to fellow guests.”
How many personal stories should be shared? “There is not a set number – but don’t monopolise the conversation with personal stories.”
What is the right way to talk about your travels, without appearing to brag? “Just be authentic. Because you are talking about wonderful experiences doesn’t automatically mean you are bragging – unless you are! ‘Check’ your intentions and make sure you are offering thought provoking, fascinating details rather than namedropping and coming across as a chatterbox.”
What would you recommend to wear prior to and during a flight? “You want to be comfortable but appear polished and put together. A pair of slacks and ballet like flats are a comfortable option with a lightweight sweater for the chilly plane.”
How do you address sitting next to or encountering difficult flight neighbours? “Body language – put your earbuds on, read a book, watch a movie, or simply say, ‘I’m going to rest for a bit. Please excuse me’. If they are aggressive, speak privately to the flight attendant.”
What is the correct way to politely decline a local cuisine?“At least try the dish if it’s not against your religion or you don’t have an allergy. If you have tried it and can’t eat it, be very careful not to hurt your hosts feelings. You can say ‘It’s quite good, I’m going to pace myself.’
Regarding how to decline food, it’s a bit tricky because you always risk offending the host. I don’t encourage dishonesty, but do suggest you be diplomatic and not too bold such as, ‘I don’t like it’. Being brutal honesty in tedious situations may work against you.”
What would you recommend is appropriate travel or/and leisurewear? “Business casual is a good option, comfortable but clothing that is well fitted rather than sloppy. Avoid sandals or yoga pants. You may meet someone interesting and you want to be ready for the introduction. Put your best foot forward.”