Etiquette is a subject that I can never learn enough. As a business graduate who is expected to maneuver well in different social settings, I have to admit that, in contrast, I am still a student in the discipline of etiquette. There were times when I encountered awkward situations and failed to react properly. Upon reading Peggy Post’s “Excuse Me, But I Was Next…”: How to Handle the Top 100 Manners Dilemmas, I found answers to many embarrassing situations. I could not help but wished that I could have had the opportunity to read it years ago.
One thing I like about this book is that it is well organized. Each chapter features a question and answer about a manner dilemma along with additional guidelines pertaining to the situation. Another positive is that it has touched upon a wide range of topics including table manners, tipping and gift giving. These are the basics and general topics that can be found in most etiquette guidebooks. What attracts me the most is that it also mentions things like what to do if your houseguests overstay their scheduled visit, how to break the news to people whom you do not plan to invite to your wedding, and how to respond when your guest makes rude comments about your cooking. These situations can happen to anyone and unfortunately, not everyone knows what to do when they happen.
Consider the following situation from the book (an embarrassing moment that also happened to a friend of mine):
Someone asked a female friend when her baby was due. To her horror, the female friend responded, “I’m not pregnant.”
I bet most people, like the protagonist and my friend, would be so embarrassed that the only thing they could manage to do is to stutter, “Oh, I’m so sorry!” and disappear as soon as they could. I would have done the same if I were in their situation. I would desperately hope there was somehow an opening in the ground that could swallow me whole. According to Peggy Post, a simple apology is fine. The best recovery, however, is to apologize and change the subject quickly by saying something like this: “Sorry! My eyes must be going! Speaking of which, I like your new glasses. Where did you get them?”
What I learned from the book is that the ability to think on feet is very important. I always admire individuals who can skillfully downplay an embarrassing situation or even turn it into something pleasant for everyone around. This is a skill that I have to work hard and long to develop. In the meantime, I am glad I have read this book to prepare myself for the most common situations at the least....Continua