Homeschool families are often judged by the first impressions they make. On today’s Home School Heartbeat, host Mike Farris talks with June Hines Moore, author of The Etiquette Advantage, about the importance of being gracious in manner and behavior.
Michael Farris: June, we’ve discussed your etiquette material on Home School Heartbeat in the past, and it’s great to finally have you here in person. Welcome to our program.
June Hines Moore: Thank you, Michael. It’s good to be with you.
Mike: If I’m at a nice dinner and my 2-year-old son dumps a plate of food in my lap, how should I respond?
June: Well, your first response would be a terrific reaction, I’m sure. But we need to remember the Golden Rule. We want to treat the child as we would want to be treated. If this is an accident, then we need to treat it that way. If it’s just playfulness at 2 years old, it could be either one. But this is not the time to discipline the child, especially in front of other people.
Mike: Can you give me an example of a distinction between etiquette and manners?
June: Well, let’s say that I go to someone’s office and he says, “Oh, Mrs. Moore, we surely do need a lot of etiquette taught.” Well, he has mispronounced the word of a subject that I teach, and I would like for him to know how to say it correctly. But I must not correct him, so what I’d do in that situation is just use the word etiquette every time I talk about manners rather than use the word manners, and sometimes he corrects himself. But we have to be gracious and accept them where they are in their knowledge of the rule.
Michael Farris: June, before we get started today, I have to ask you this: is asparagus really a finger food?
June Hines Moore: Traditionally, it has been. And many people look at me askance when they hear that. But the way to cook asparagus is to have it very, very firm so that you can’t even cut it with a fork. Now if you cannot cut it with your fork, then it is meant to be used as a finger food. But, Michael, we have to remember this is a good place to say that there is a reason for every rule of etiquette. So if the rule is that it’s a finger food, then it’s probably because of the way it’s cooked. So there’s a reason behind all the rules.
Mike: June, why did you set out to write The Etiquette Advantage?
June: When my teenage sons were in high school and college, I realized that there were a lot of things I had not taught them because the situation had not come up. So I started teaching classes to them and their peers, and then there was a demand for a reference book. And just previously to that, I had written You Can Raise a Well-Mannered Child for the parent. Both of these books came out of a demand or a request from my student participants who said, “We need something to refer to.” So both of my books have been as a result of people actually requesting something.
Michael Farris: June, why is it important to know the rules of etiquette? Isn’t simple politeness enough?
June Hines Moore: Well, that’s the place to start, is to be polite and considerate. But if you don’t know the rules, then you’re not going to make yourself look good; you’re going to look as though you either aren’t polite or you don’t care.
For instance, if you don’t know that you’re not supposed to interrupt someone, then you may not mean to be disrespectful, but it’s going to come out that way. So you want to practice rules of etiquette to make a good impression—not a false, egotistical impression—I don’t mean that—but a good impression. For instance, if we put used silverware back on a nice tablecloth, we’ve done that without thinking. And iced tea stains, so the iced tea spoon leaves this horrible stain on the hostess’s tablecloth, and she’s not going to say anything, but after you leave, every time she sees that stain, she’s going to think about you.
So I don’t want to put fear into people. I don’t want them to be so uptight because they don’t know the rules. I just want them to be more aware and even to read, whether it’s my book or someone else’s book, to know what they’re supposed to do.
Michael Farris: June, as I welcome you back to the program today, I want to ask you about awkward situations. You know, they’re just unavoidable—they’re going to happen to all of us at some point. How can a thorough knowledge of etiquette help us in those situations?
June Hines Moore: Well, we need to remember to apologize when we’ve made a mistake, but we don’t want to go on and on because that gets tiresome. And then as to how it can help us, it can help young people and older people get a job, help them make friends, help them feel better about themselves. So we do our young people a great service if we can teach manners to them without preaching and fussing at them.
Mike: June, how are you different than Miss Manners or Emily Post?
June: I’m glad you asked that question because I’m often asked about Miss Manners. She’s a syndicated columnist, and while I don’t want to talk badly about her, her way of answering people, to me, is a little bit offensive—and I never laugh at anyone’s question.
Emily Post—of course, she lived in the early part of the last century when we didn’t have email, cell phones. There have been so many things come along that the old traditional rules don’t change, but we constantly have to add to them to keep up with the new technology.
Michael Farris: In your book You Can Raise a Well-Mannered Child, what are some of the basic areas that you cover concerning children?
June Hines Moore: Well, we want to teach them good telephone manners. We want to teach them especially how to meet and greet people; we want to introduce our children properly and teach them what to say when they are introduced to someone. And this should start at a very young age.
Mike: June, what are the two biggest areas that you find that most parents will miss with training their children concerning manners?
June: Well, I don’t want to criticize parents who choose not to do this. But as one man at a homeschool book fair said to me—and he didn’t mean any sarcasm by it—but he said, “You wrote a book about this?” He said, “I didn’t know you taught manners. I thought you just did manners.”
Well, there are a lot of things that parents maybe have forgotten or maybe need to brush up on themselves. So if children are not given these skills, when they get out into the business world, they’re going to be aware. They may be embarrassed. So all of the bravado and false confidence in the world won’t carry us if we don’t know the rules about talking and working with other people.