Much of the responsibility of a woman to act in a becoming, well-bred, proper manner involves knowing how to respond accordingly in each situation. One often must use wisdom and discernment, cultivated over the years, to determine one’s course of action in any given situation. However, there are some golden rules which apply no matter what, and it would behoove every woman on a journey to become more refined to begin observing these as soon as possible. So simple that they may seem clichéd, here are some rules a well-bred woman must always follow:
Always smile graciously and sincerely when meeting or greeting people, whether new or old. Knowing someone well and having greeted them dozens of times does not relieve a woman of her responsibility to respect someone by acknowledging their presence and affirming their existence. For example, when her husband returns from work at the end of each day, a proper wife will always greet him as soon as possible.
Always offer your hand when being introduced or accept the hand that is offered to you. Proper manners dictate that a woman offer her hand to a man while letting an older woman offer her hand first. Not offering one’s hand upon introduction is careless and rude, and it may force a man to offer his hand first, thereby breaking a rule of etiquette himself. Many people enjoy shaking hands every time they greet someone, long after having been introduced. Again, if she is able, a woman ought to offer her hand first to a man. Some men will, however, walk up to you speaking with a hand already outstretched; of course, a well-bred woman will accept it even though the order was reversed. It would be rude not to, and being rude to force others to observe rules of etiquette is counter-productive and silly.
Always smile sincerely and say “thank you” to a compliment; that is all. A well-bred woman will never explain anything, argue with the one complimenting, talk back, or put herself or anyone else down. If the compliment is regarding something she owns or has made, rather than regarding her person directly, she will not tell them where she acquired it, offer to hand it down once she is done using it, or explain anything in detail unless asked. Often the other person will be interested in this information, but it is best to let him ask instead of volunteering it. A simple “thank-you,” nothing more, is always the best response; by responding to a compliment in this way one has performed the ultimately well-bred response, simple though it is.
Always answer when someone addresses you, no matter how silly, trivial, or even rude he is being. You do not need to go back and forth or banter with someone, but a polite, concise reply stated appropriately is a must. It is rude to do otherwise. Being so self-absorbed as to not notice others speaking to you is not appropriate either. Even if someone rudely speaks to you from behind your back, without saying your name or meeting your eye first, if you know they are speaking to you it is polite to reply. As I often say, much of today’s etiquette involves not only how to avoid rudeness on one’s own part, but also how to respond to the rudeness of others.
Dear readers, are there any golden rules that you think a well-bred woman should observe? I would love to hear your thoughts!