Strive to be socially graceful

Strive to be socially graceful

All In Finesse

Strive to be socially graceful

There are certain intangible things that come under the umbrella of “grace”. And grace is what makes “etiquette” more personal than formal, describes Meera Vijayann

Etiquette comes in different shapes and sizes. You have your dining etiquette, work etiquette, and even party etiquette. Etiquette is, of course, simply put, minding your manners. But did you know that there are two ways of doing that? One way is technical, the other graceful. 

In Victorian England, social grace was so stressed upon by the upper classes, that there was little room for anything but precision and etiquette in an individual. Young girls and women were especially extravagant in how they carried themselves; complete with gloves, bonnets, puff sleeves, and long skirts. A tad too much, wasn’t it?

But what does grace mean today? Our understanding of ‘grace’ has certainly evolved with the times.

Being socially graceful is no longer just a feminine quality as it was presumed to be. It is quite the gentleman and ofcourse, the lovely lady’s quality. Admitting a mistake, tendering an apology, acknowledging the presence of even the most insignificant person around you gives you the power of grace.

It takes the steam out of your critics! It is increasingly rare to admit to a mistake. The apology today is a hollow shell (“I apologise in case any inadvertent offence has been caused” or “I am sorry that my words were misunderstood”). Technical, but not graceful. Lack of grace arises from the notion that being open to criticism and apology is a sign of weakness. 

Grace has always been beautiful, but beneath its delicate charms lurks a steely power. As American singer Emmylou Harris once said, “There's a certain grace in accepting what your life is and embracing all the good things that have been - but there's still an expectation of good things to come. Not necessarily what you expected”. 

Social grace is a must-have skill today. The focus of social grace has changed over the last century, recently with an emphasis on business etiquette and international protocol. Dressing smartly alone does not account for social grace anymore. It is more about intangible things like holding doors open for someone, abiding by traffic rules while driving, not making people wait for you, not talking loudly on a phone call, not getting over-drunk at a party...

Today, with new age work culture demanding smooth etiquette, both men and women benefit from attending short certification courses, induction sessions, and soft skills workshops that help in brushing up their social skills. There are a variety of responsibilities that a modern-day work environment demands and dictates from both employers and employees.

At work, corporate etiquette plays a role in developing stronger relationships as well as avoiding negative conflicts of any kind. 

The idea of ‘grace’ differs across cultures, but the core values of social grace remain the same. No matter where you are, it is important to remember the simple rules; to listen without interrupting, to discuss without arguing, to have the heart to forgive, to embrace and value differences, and most importantly, to be grateful. These simple powerful truths go a long way in not just defining your personality, but helping you develop better relationships with colleagues, family and friends.
How to be socially graceful

*  At a formal party? Have a peg or two but no more. Drinking together can be fun only so long as you can count your fingers, walk straight, and not yell madly. A friends’ night-out is a different issue, of course.

*  Made a mistake at your office? Accept it. There is nothing more professional than that. Everybody makes mistakes. Only the strong have it in them to accept it openly and correct it. Your critics can no more taunt you with what you openly agree to!

*  Travelling on a bus or train? Make it a point not to yap non-stop over your phone. Your co-passengers are not deaf, and they certainly won’t appreciate it, no matter how important that call maybe for you. Inform the person on the other end that you are travelling and that you will discuss whatever it is once you reach your destination. Or better still, let them know you will be available to chat and reply to emails (what is your 3G network for?).

*  Don’t know to use chop sticks? No matter. But have the sense not to chomp loudly. And talking while you eat can be the worst thing you ever do. While your family might be comfortable with your weird habits, bear in mind that others will take you for a freak!

*  Out with your lady for a dinner? Hold the door open for her. Pull up a chair for her. Help her get her shawl or coat on before leaving. Hold a hand out for her when she is getting into or off a car. No matter how independent women get, the “ideal gentleman” never goes out of fashion.

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