Thursday Ask The Lady: Badmouthing An Ex

Cherished readers, The Lady presents today’s question. She advises at all times to Never Call Attention To Oneself

Dear Lady Hooper-Brackett, 

Here’s my real life question. What do you think of people who bad-mouth their exes in public? 

Ex-Ex-Ex

Dear Ex-Ex-Ex,

The Lady presumes that you mean ‘ex-husbands’ ,’ex-wives’ , ‘ex-boyfriends’ or ‘ex-girlfriends’, though she assumes you could mean ‘ex-bosses’ or ‘ex-colleagues’.

The Lady has a very good piece of advice for anyone who may be tempted to spout-off publicly: DON’T.

To publicly speak ill of someone that you were once in a relationship with is bad form. The Lady understands that most people do talk about their unfortunate experiences, and there is nothing wrong keeping these conversations in the family circle or between friends. It is when you blab away to all and sundry that it becomes a social faux pas. After all, people can understand that things may not have worked out and it is always better to at least give the impression that things ended on friendly terms.

If the ex is an ex-boss, The Lady fears you will risk any future employment opportunities. People can be reluctant to hire someone for fear that they will in turn talk badly about the new boss.

Silence is Golden.

Best Ex Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Vintage Saturday: A Look At Advice from 1860

Cherished readers, The Lady came across this advice from the The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness by Florence Hartley.  The Lady believes that both of these pieces of advice still stand today. Enjoy a little look back at Conversation Advice.

Never interrupt any one who is speaking. It is very Ill-bred. If you see that a person to whom you wish to speak is being addressed buy another person, never speak until she had heard and replied; until her conversation with that person is finished. No truly polite lady ever breaks in upon a conversation or interrupts another speaker. 

It is a mark of ill-breeding to use French phrases or words, unless you are sure your companion is a French scholar, and even then, it is best to avoid them. Above all, do not use any foreign word or phrase, unless you have the language perfectly at your command. I heard a lady once use a Spanish quotation; she had mastered that one sentence alone;  but a Cuban gentleman, delighted to meet an American who could converse with him in his own tongue, immediately addressed her in Spanish. Embarrassed and ashamed, she was obliged to confess that her knowledge of the language was confined to one quotation. 

Best Vintage Memory Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Vintage Saturday: Advice on Insults from 1967

Cherished readers, The Lady presents to you an excerpt from The Encyclopedia of Etiquette by Llewellyn Miller copyright 1967. This volume is very easy to read as it is written in alphabetical order. Let’s look at what Miss Miller advised when dealing with insults, be they intended or not. (Page 335 in this volume)

A famous definition of gentleman and lady is ‘One who never insults anyone unintentionally.’ To this can be added  ‘A lady or gentleman is one who never takes word, deed, or manner as an insult when none was intended.’ There is no complete remedy for either the calculated insult or one given under the hot impulse of anger. No matter how regretful or abject the apology, the memory of the insulting words remains. However, when an apology is offered it must be accepted. The acceptance can be stiff if the insult was deliberate. But if the insult was unintentional the only sensible thing to do, in sympathy for the embarrassment of the left-footed give, is to laugh and forget it.”

The Lady agrees with Miss Miller. It is certainly better to ignore such things as best as possible. The Lady would even say if it is noted that this same person repeatedly acts in a boorish manner, she would more than likely only see this individual when absolutely necessary. Why subject yourself to more of the same?

Best “Insulting” Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

 

Manners Monday: Saying No

Cherished readers, do you find it easy to say no when you are asked to do something you do not wish to do? For instance, how would you respond to these questions:

  1. We’d like to invite you to dinner next week. My mother-in-law is having issues with her gout and would like to discuss her toes with your husband. We know he is a wonderful doctor. Can you make it next Tuesday at 7?
  2. Jack and I will be in town at the end of the month and we were wondering if we could stay with you for four days?
  3. Can you volunteer for _______this weekend?
  4. Can I borrow a thousand dollars?

None of these scenarios is particularly attractive and unless you are a saint, not anything you would like to do. (The Lady acknowledges that sometimes your answer will depend on who is doing the asking.)

One of the skills that The Lady thinks is essential for all to know is the art of saying ‘No’ politely, yet firmly. The best way is to say “No, thank you” or even “I’m so sorry, I/we can’t.” The key is to make this statement and then be silent. Say nothing more. The Lady has found that this usually works, but occasionally some pushy person will keep on and ask “Why not?” The answer to this question is “I’m afraid it’s not possible.” And then be silent once more. One does not need to make up an implausible story to justify or explain why you are saying no.

It takes practice. For The Lady it took years of practice and anxious and resentful feelings after saying ‘Yes’ when I meant ‘No’. There is great freedom in this skill!

Best No-No Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

 

When They Won’t Stop Calling

Cherished Readers, during my weekly lunch with some friends, one mentioned that she is in the midst of dealing with a relative who repeatedly calls her at all hours of the day and night to moan, groan, and complain about her problems. She rarely asks after my friend. Her cup of patience is almost empty. She turned to me for guidance and I told her I needed to think about things.  I believe that these types of situations might be common, so after discussing with my friend, she agreed I could share my insights with you. Below you will find what I advised her. Name changed to protect the innocent.

Dear Dorcas, 

I pondered your situation on the drive home and the first thing that I would like to remind you of is the fact that your phone, be it your landline or cell, is for your convenience only and not for anyone else’s. You are entirely within your rights to only answer the phone when it is convenient for you. I know that you felt guilty letting it go to voice mail so often, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. 

I am very dismayed that this person only seeks out your listening ear to vent and spew complaints and never asks how you are. 

BUT, and it is a big BUT (not like Kardashian sized, but big nonetheless) if you are the only person who listens to her, perhaps there may be an emotional problem that she is suffering from and your being there for her is helping her. Because she is family, I would not cut ties with her; but I would be very honest with her and inform her that because you and your family are very busy there must be a set time when you will take calls. Give her one or two times during the week that you will speak to her and explain that if she calls out of those times, you will not be answering. If there is an emergency, she may text or email. You must control the situation while being loving and considerate. 

I feel that one can set boundaries and still be a good friend and we lose nothing by extending these courtesies. In fact, you may find you regain your sanity when dealing with her. 

Best Telephone Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Mobile Manners:The Etiquette of Cell Phone Usage

Cherished readers, The Lady cannot begin to list how many times she has been out with Lord Hooper-Brackett and while enjoying a meal, having the peace shattered by a big mouth at the next table having a loud conversation on his cell. Of course these vociferous exchanges are usually precipitated by an obnoxious ringtone playing a vulgar song about liking large derrieres and not being able to lie.

The Lady has pretty much had enough of cell phone use in public and has compiled a list of things that will help you in not being one of ‘those people’ who annoy others when using your cell phone.

  1. Etiquette and manners are about consideration of those around you. If you remember nothing else about manners, remember this: Do Nothing That Will Draw Attention To Yourself. (The Lady says: Please reconsider your public ringtone)
  2. Speak softly and speak quickly.
  3. Do not discuss private topics or other people in a public place. Voices carry.
  4. Do watch your language and do not curse or swear. The Lady hopes you will do this on or off the cell phone!
  5. Do not repeatedly glance at your phone, text, or check the web while you are conversing with others.
  6. Do not be a distracted driver and use the cell while you are driving.
  7. Silence phones in theaters, libraries, churches, schools, meetings….anywhere that people can be disturbed.
  8. If it annoys you when you see others doing it, it annoys others when you do it. Remember that people and relationships matter; be mindful of your habits and control them.

Technology is a wonderful thing…after all, it allows you to read this blog! How we handle the technology is another thing entirely.  The Lady is hopeful that a day will come when everyone in restaurants looks up at the person they are seated across from and not down at their phones.

Best Cell Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

The Masculine Graces: Chivalry Part 2

Cherished readers, let us celebrate the fact that today is Friday by taking a look at Part 2 of my chivalry series. The Lady Hooper-Brackett hopes that it will inspire you this weekend. The Lady was most distressed to read this article whilst browsing as she enjoyed her cup of tea. One sincerely hopes that chivalry is most certainly getting all of the resuscitation efforts that can be mustered.

To continue on with our look at the Gentlemanly Art of Chivalry:

A gentleman may order for a lady if they are out to dinner. I find this to be such a nice old-fashioned custom (I happen to like old fashioned things). The lady glances at the menu, makes her selection, tells her escort what she would like and he orders for her.

When going to a movie, concert , or theater, a gentleman allows the lady to go first when going into the row of seats.

While walking together on a sidewalk, a gentleman places himself on the side that abuts the street.

Gentlemen remove their hats while indoors.

Gentlemen open car doors for their ladies. Ahh, the Lady does so love this. Lord Hooper-Brackett does this when we go out and even though we have been together for many years, it still makes me smile.

It is exceedingly gentlemanly to be sure that all ladies are served first if you are the host and passing drinks, appetizers, etc.

And there you have some more on the subject of chivalry…and I am quite sure I will have more to say on this subject.

Best Mannerly Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett