Good manners aren’t just a quaint and old-fashioned concept. They’re an essential aspect of every young lady’s path to adulthood. It’s safe to say that today’s young woman is exposed to more opportunities than any generation of women in history, and these essential guidelines will help parents ensure that their daughters grow up to succeed in any situation.
Topics covered in 50 Things Every Young Lady Should Know include:
- Making conversation with adults
- Accepting a gift you don't like
- Dressing appropriately
- Winning and losing graciously
- Writing a thank-you note
While the formal rules of etiquette are not taught the way they once were, 50 Things Every Young Lady Should Know provides a modern take on the ageless idea that girls should know appropriate and courteous responses to any given situation. This updated guide to traditional standards of behavior proves that manners never go out of style – they’re an essential skillset that a young girl needs to excel in whatever she chooses to do.
About the Author
Bryan Curtis is an author and the president of Dance Floor Books. He is the author/coauthor and editor of more than 25 books, including My South, My Southern Food, Classic Wisdom for the Good Life, Classic Wisdom for the Professional Life, and the popular GentleManners series.
Read an Excerpt
50 THINGS EVERY Young Lady SHOULD KNOWWHAT TO DO, WHAT TO SAY, AND HOW TO BEHAVE
By KAY WEST JOHN BRIDGES BRYAN CURTIS
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2011 Kay West, John Bridges, and Bryan Curtis
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSAYING "PLEASE"
What was your first word? Your mother will probably tell you it was Mama. Your father will insist it was Dada. Your grandmother might even believe with all her heart that it was Nana. But you have no recollection. Chances are, though, that somewhere between Mama, Dada, and Nana, and before your first complete sentence, you learned the word please.
Your mother may have squatted down beside you, cookie in hand and said, "Please. I want a cookie, please," intending for you to repeat it back to her before rewarding you with the treat. Your dad may have sat down with you on the floor, ball in hand, and said, "Please play ball" before rolling it across the carpet to you. You also probably heard your parents use it with each other—"May I please have the paper when you're done with it?" "Will you please take the trash out?"—and saw the positive results.
Along with mama, daddy, ball, and cookie, please is one of the most important words you learn when you begin talking. It's hard to turn down someone who prefaces or ends a request with the word please. It doesn't matter if you are two years old and asking for a lollipop; eight years old and asking for a new backpack to replace the baby one from first grade; twelve years old and asking for money for a movie; fourteen and asking for a ride to the mall; or seventeen and asking a teacher to write a letter of recommendation for your college application. Please is a word that if you are smart—and considerate, which is just as important as being smart—you will use for the rest of your life.
Say "please" consistently, to everyone, always. It doesn't matter if you're asking your brother to "pass the potatoes, please," or asking the busy clerk in the store to please wrap your purchase for your mother's birthday gift.
Treat your little brother, however annoying he may be, with any less consideration than you do a stranger. And vice versa.
Because please really is a magic word that adds a layer of pleasantry to every request. The more you use it, the more natural it becomes to you.
A lady says the word please every time she makes a request, no matter how small it seems.
* * *
A lady answers, "Yes, please," if someone asks if she would like something. If not, she says, "No, thank you."
* * *
A lady knows "please" is just enough. Saying "pretty please" or "pleeeeeeeease" is unnecessary and can be annoying.
Chapter TwoSAYING "THANK YOU"
Has this ever happened to you? Your mother comes into your room while you are doing homework, lays your clean, folded laundry on your bed, stands by your desk for about ten seconds, then says, "You're welcome!" before she stomps out the door. Or your dad drops you off at your friend's house and as the car door is closing behind you, he shouts, "You're welcome!" This is not the time to roll your eyes; consider what you have not done that has irritated your mom or dad.
You might have "thank you" down pat when someone gives you something you've already asked for, but having good manners also means saying "thank you" after people do something nice when you haven't asked, or just out of the blue.
When your mom puts your clean laundry on your bed, when your dad gives you a ride, when your friend tells you how cute your outfit is, or her mom tells you after the soccer match what a great game you had, the response is as simple as "1,2, thank you."
Say "thank you" anytime someone does something nice for you, no matter how well you know them.
Think you don't have to say "thank you" to your mom, your dad, or your big sister because they are family and don't count.
Because family is where good manners begin, not where they end.
Say "thank you" when a teacher compliments your drawing, or the piano teacher remarks kindly on your playing, even if you're not happy with your drawing or your performance.
Reply "it's ugly!" or "I was terrible!" even if you feel you could have done better.
Because rejecting someone's kind comments on your accomplishment implies they have no taste, and that's insulting.
Say "thank you" to the person who just made your strawberry-banana smoothie, handed you your change at the market, or gave you a program at the hockey game.
Assume that because people are "doing their jobs" they don't deserve to be thanked for that particular interaction with you.
Because it makes people feel good to know their efforts are appreciated, and why wouldn't you want to make someone feel good?
A lady smiles and makes eye contact when she says "thank you."
* * *
A lady says "thank you" even when the person she is thanking is on the other end of the phone.
* * *
A lady says "thank you" even if no one else has—or especially if no one else has done so.
Chapter ThreeSAYING "EXCUSE ME"
When it comes to the vocabulary of good manners, no phrase is more multifunctional or comes in handier than "excuse me."
You say "please" when asking for something and "thank you" when someone has done something for you or given you something nice. But "excuse me" has nearly as many uses as a Swiss Army pocketknife. It can be used as a request, as an attention getter, or as a type of apology when an apology isn't really necessary but not saying anything would be rude.
If you're walking down a crowded hall at school and happen to accidentally bump into someone, you say "excuse me."
If the only two remaining seats together at the movie theater are smack in the middle of the aisle, as you and your friend squeeze past each person, you should quietly say "excuse me." If you happen to step on the foot of someone who hasn't had the good sense to tuck it under his or her chair, you should add "I'm sorry."
If a group of people are chatting with one another and blocking a doorway you need to go through, you don't have to wait for them to move on; just say "excuse me" politely but loudly enough so they can hear you, and they'll let you right through.
If someone has spoken to you and you couldn't hear the entire sentence, you say "excuse me?" as a question, and they'll gladly repeat what they said.
In general, girls are far more careful than boys about belching at the table, but it happens, and when it does, there is no need to act as if it didn't. A simple "excuse me" is sufficient.
Say "excuse me" if you have to walk through the middle of a line of people at the concession stand.
Scoot through when you see an opening as if no one will notice.
People waiting in line can be very protective of their spots but will be happy to step back if they know your intention is not to butt in.
Say "excuse me?" if you haven't heard what someone has said to you and would like them to repeat it.
"Huh" sounds as if you are grunting, and young ladies don't grunt unless they are moving heavy objects or involved in an athletic endeavor.
Say "excuse me" if you need to interrupt someone, even if it's your own mom on the computer or your dad reading a book.
Fidget, wave your arms around, or sigh dramatically.
Because saying "excuse me" is a perfectly acceptable way to get someone's attention.
A lady always says "excuse me" to get someone's attention, not "hey" or "um."
* * *
A lady says "excuse me" when passing in front of someone's line of vision, whether that's in front of the lipstick display at the pharmacy or a painting in a museum.
Chapter FourBEING INTRODUCED
There's a reason that something is repeated over and over again, until it becomes one of those things that parents call "an old saying." It's because it has been tested by time and proven to be true. "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence." "Don't count your chickens before they hatch." "The early bird gets the worm."
When your parents start a conversation with "There's an old saying ...," you should resist sighing loudly and instead listen to what they have to say, especially this: "You never get a second chance to make a first impression."
First impressions count, which is why the way you respond when being introduced to someone, especially an older someone, is very important.
Let's say your mother has dropped you off at your father's office so he can take you to soccer practice. You are reading a magazine while you wait for him to pack up his briefcase. His boss walks into his office, and your father says, "Diana, this is my daughter Evelyn. Evelyn, this is Ms. Reid."
If you remain seated in your chair, barely look up over the top of the magazine, and mumble, "Hello" or even worse, "Hey," your father's boss will forever remember you as the rude young woman who didn't know the first thing about respect for older people.
When you are introduced to another person, the right thing to do is to look at the person and say, "It's nice to meet you Sam/Tressa/Mrs. Brooks/Mr. Tate/Reverend Stevens/Dr. Mayer." If the person you are being introduced to is your age, and it seems appropriate to shake hands, you can do so. If the person you are being introduced to is an adult, you wait for that person to extend their hand first, and if they do, offer a firm handshake, though not a tight grip.
If your father's boss walks into his office while you are reading a magazine, the first thing you do, even before your father gets one word out of his mouth, is close the magazine, set it on a table, and stand up. When your father says, "Diana, this is my daughter Evelyn. Evelyn, this is Ms. Reid," you make eye contact with Ms. Reid, smile, and say, "It's nice to meet you, Ms. Reid." If she extends her hand, shake it.
Five years down the road when you and your dad run into Ms. Reid in a restaurant or at a movie theater and he says to her, "Diana, do you remember my daughter Evelyn?" Ms. Reid will remember you as the very poised and polite young woman with impeccable manners whom she met in your father's office one afternoon. And that's certainly preferable to the alternative because one day you might want an internship or summer job at your father's company. You just never know.
Repeat the person's name to whom you are being introduced.
Just say "hello" and think that covers it.
Repeating a person's name back helps you remember their name for future reference, an invaluable asset.
Stop what you are doing when you are being introduced.
Simply wave the hot dog you're eating at the ball game toward the person you're being introduced to.
If someone thinks enough of you to introduce you to someone else, don't embarrass everyone—especially yourself—by acting as if you couldn't be bothered.
A lady smiles and makes eye contact with the person she is being introduced to.
* * *
A lady remembers that first impressions are lasting impressions.
* * *
If the person making introductions has somehow forgotten your name, a lady comes to the rescue by offering it herself. "Hello, I'm Mandy" is all that is needed to save the situation.
Chapter FiveMAKING INTRODUCTIONS
If you've ever been invited to a birthday party for a girl you know from elementary school, but now you go to different middle schools and you don't really know any of her new friends, you were probably really anxious. You may have tried to get out of it by telling your mom, "But I don't know anybody." And your mom probably said, "You know Meaghan and it's her birthday and she invited you, so you're going. Besides, it's a chance to meet some new girls, and it's only two hours, and anybody can do anything for two hours."
That really didn't make you feel any better, and you were still a nervous wreck when you got there. But when Meaghan introduced you to her new friends and told them what a great soccer player you are and that her friend Carrie also played soccer, that gave you and Carrie something to talk about, and eventually you found out that Carrie also runs track in the spring and so does Laura. Before you knew it two hours had flown by, you had a great time, and you and Carrie had exchanged phone numbers.
Introductions are a way to help people feel included and as if they matter to you, so it is important to know how to properly make them.
If you are with one friend and run into another friend and you are all on your way somewhere else, it's enough to say, "Liza, this is Carrie. Carrie, this is Liza. We're going to a movie. Talk to you soon!" If you are all at the same party or event, you can add a bit more. "Liza, this is Meaghan. She and I went to Grassland Elementary together, but now she goes to Highlands Middle. Meaghan, Liza is on the soccer team with me at school."
If you are with your parents, you say, "Mom and Dad, this is Carrie. We met at Meaghan's party and she runs track for Highlands Middle." You do not need to add, "Carrie, these are my parents." That is pretty obvious.
If you are with your mother, and you run into your soccer coach at the post office, you say, "Mom, this is Coach Howe. She is my soccer coach." Your mom will probably already know that if she has been going to your games, but it never hurts to refresh someone's memory, especially when it comes to names.
Include something personal about a friend you are introducing to your parents, like "Mom, this is Olga. She moved here from Germany last year."
Just say, "Mom, this is Olga."
Because knowing a little something about your friend gives your parents an opening to get to know your friend a little better, which is reassuring for parents.
Introduce a newcomer to a group of people she doesn't know, even if you don't know everyone's name in the group. You can simply say, "Everyone, this is Carrie. We went to elementary school together."
Say hello to the newcomer, then resume your conversation with your other friends.
Not being introduced makes a person feel invisible and unimportant, and no one wants to make anyone feel that way.
A lady always introduces the younger person to the older person. "Grandma, this is Elizabeth." Not, "Elizabeth, this is my grandmother."
* * *
A lady can introduce herself to someone by saying her own name first. "Hello, I'm Jana Jones." Ideally, the other person will reply, "Hello, I'm Hannah Rogers."
Excerpted from 50 THINGS EVERY Young Lady SHOULD KNOW by KAY WEST JOHN BRIDGES BRYAN CURTIS Copyright © 2011 by Kay West, John Bridges, and Bryan Curtis. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. Saying "Please"....................1
2. Saying "Thank You"....................4
3. Saying "Excuse Me"....................8
4. Being Introduced....................12
5. Making Introductions....................16
6. Paying a Compliment....................20
7. Accepting a Compliment....................23
8. Making an Apology....................26
9. Accepting an Apology....................30
10. Asking Permission....................34
11. Asking for a Favor....................38
12. Borrowing Clothes....................42
13. Talking and Listening to Adults....................46
14. Being a Dinner Guest....................51
15. The Napkin....................56
16. The Place Setting....................60
17. Food Allergies and Dislikes....................65
18. Dining in a Restaurant....................69
19. Public Staircases and Hallways....................74
20. Choosing and Giving a Gift....................78
21. Accepting a Gift....................82
22. Writing a Thank-You Note....................86
23. Expressing Sympathy....................92
24. Telephones and Messages....................97
25. Cell Phones: Talking and Texting....................103
26. The Computer....................109
27. Using Social Networks....................114
28. Taking Photographs....................121
29. Gossiping and Keeping Secrets....................126
30. The Slumber Party....................130
31. Losing Graciously....................134
32. In an Audience....................138
33. Attending a Religious Service....................143
34. Traveling on a Plane....................147
35. Dressing Appropriately....................152
38. Personal Grooming....................165
39. Managing a Personal Emergency....................169
42. Entering and Exiting a Car....................180
43. Help with Your Coat and Other Small Courtesies....................184
44. Responding to Invitations....................188
45. Would You Like to Dance?....................193
46. The Dating Game....................199
47. Being a Considerate Houseguest....................204
48. Being a Good Hostess....................208
50. Helping Others....................216
About the Authors....................221