Discussion 8 – Hello and Goodbye
For Tuesday, May 8, 1962
Objective: To encourage the development of one’s best behavior.
One of the most important rules as to manners is to be, for the most part, silent as to yourself. Say little or nothing about yourself, whether good, bad, or indifferent; nothing good, for that is vanity; nothing bad, for that is affectation; nothing indifferent, for that is silly. (David Hume, from The Dictionary of Thoughts.)
Again, we emphasize the importance of placing oneself second to the interests and comforts of others. This time we deal with conversations, introductions, telephone tactics, and other situations where verbal exchange is conducted between two or more people. The reminder to think of others first may seem tiresome but, if conscientiously practiced, the rules governing various forms of talking among people will be more easily followed.
Formal dinner conversation is conducted by the host speaking to the lady on his right first and the hostess with the gentlemen on her left. Guests will follow this example around the table. When everyone is familiar with this rule of etiquette, the conversation goes more smoothly and no one is left out. Midway through the meal the procedure is reversed and the guests, being knowledgeable in this social grace (and let us hope we all are), co-operate and shift their conversation accordingly as soon as opportune. This, of course, should not be a rigid performance, but a mental guide.
One should never worry about opening the conversation with what has become known as a “cliche.” Actually, mundane as they may seem, topics such as weather, the house decor, and the current news are useful openers and friendly talk can move on from there. It behooves all, however, to fill their minds with good thoughts to share with others and then take advantage of situations where conversational experience can be enjoyed.
In a social conversation, always give priority to the other person’s remarks by refraining from interrupting any speaker. Remember, a goo listener is always a delight; however it is discourteous to both hostess and guests to remain silent and unresponsive all the time. Making every effort to show interest and enjoyment of the association, to do your share in building the conversation and adding to its pleasure. When opportune, accept the challenge by commenting or questioning intelligently, for the art of conversation is a two-way exchange.
The ring of the telephone can be thrilling or chilling, depending on what you anticipate. the way you answer can cause a similar reaction – depending on how you sound. (Neither worry, concern, nor pressure of time and problems in the home should be reflected in one’s tone of voice in answering the telephone. To avoid this, no matter what confusion may exist when the telephone rings, just before removing the receiver, take a deep breath, and with full, even forced, composure, let our voice assume a friendly, pleasant tone.)
The telephone can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how it is used in the home. Because so much of our business, social, and even spiritual affairs are conducted over the telephone (as well as the annoying commercial calls we may receive these days), it is well to learn proper telephone procedure.
One never really knows who may be on the other end of the line. Even an anonymous political canvasser, in reality, maybe someone who knows you very well. So, it is wise never to be rude nor abrupt. You are judged solely by your voice and what you say on telephone exchanges, so care should be given to these points. Be careful to take messages and relay them properly.
Fully identify yourself when making calls, except, perhaps, to immediate family members or very close friends with whom you have frequent contact. your first name is not enough. The person you call may know two or three others with your same name. Using only your last name is improper, too. Rather, say “This is Susan Smith calling. May I speak with Mrs. Brown?” It is most inconsiderate to initiate a call and then ask the one who answers, “Who is this?” Rather, ask “Is this such and such a number? May I speak to so and so?”
Phone calls should be limited in length. it is always thoughtful to say, “thank you for calling” when closing the conversation.
The secret to successful introduction sis to remember that the person for whom respect should be shown has his or her name mentioned first. Usually, it is the woman’s name. However, in the case of a Church authority or prominent civic official, his name is mentioned first. It is perfectly proper merely to say, “Mrs. Jones, this is Mr. Anderson,” leaving off the trite (and often confusing) “May I present?” It is less formal at a social gathering where the people are to be in each other’s company for the evening, to say, “Mary, this is Mr. Anderson, John, this is Mrs. Jones.” They will call each other Mr. and Mrs., however, until the woman suggests that the man may call her by her first name. The person making the introductions may follow up with a brief bit of identification about each person to help them converse more freely. or instance, one might say, “Mary is our Relief society president. John, are you still teaching a class in Sunday School?”
It is helpful to review the rules of etiquette which are meaningful today. Everyone should be mindful of undesirable tendencies or relaxations in conduct that may have crept into one’s life. Any effort we put forth for self-improvement, to become more poised, gracious, gentle, or get along with others more harmoniously is indeed worthwhile.