Saturday, June 9, 2012

George Washington's Rules of Civility: # 11- 20

According to The Civility Project*, George Washington's Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation are attributed to a Jesuit Priest from around the 16th Century. Washington ended up with his own shorter version of these rules totalling 110.
The following are Washington's Rules of Civility #11-20, followed by The Sabot School of Etiquette's modern interpretation:

11. Washington: "Shift not yourself in the sight of others, nor gnaw your nails."

11. SSOE: Do not stretch out in public or bite your nails. I once saw a gentleman at breakfast with his entire family stretch his arms out while in his chair and he hit the waitress delivering 2 trays of food to his table. She toppled over, falling and dropping both trays of food all over their table, the gentleman and the floor. An all around mess and so embarrassing for the gentleman.

12. Washington: "Shake not the head, feet, or legs. Roll not the eyes, lift not one eyebrow higher than the other. Wry not the mouth, and bedew no man's face with your spittle by approaching too near when you speak."

12. SSOE: Don't fidget, roll your eyes, raise your eyebrow, or purse your lips at another person. Also, don't be a "close talker." People want the news, not the weather. The old Victorian rule during Afternoon Tea used to be "Do not touch your head." Notice how the Queen of England neither fidgets nor makes any facial gestures while in public. She also does not touch her head. She does not scratch her nose or place her hair behind her ears. Quite sure she does not spit while talking either. Try not touching your head during a meal. It is harder than it looks!

13. Washington: "Kill no vermin such as fleas, lice, ticks, & etc., in the sight of others. If you see any filth or thick spittle, put your foot dexterously upon it. If it be upon the clothes of your companions, put it off privately, and if it be upon your own clothes return thanks to him who puts it off.

13. SSOE: Don't kill bugs in front of others. Discretely, place your foot over any dirt. If you see a friend with fuzz on his or her clothes, discretely tell them or brush it off in private. Always thank someone when they may do the same for you. Always tell a very good friend or spouse they have something in their teeth, or something else that may embarrass them. They will be happy you care about them.

14. Washington: " Turn not your back to others especially in speaking. Jog not the table or desk on which another reads or writes. Lean not upon anyone. 

14. SSOE: In conversation, always try to face the person you are speaking to and in groups, always maintain an inclusive, open forum. Don't jar the table or desk of another person and do not lean on another person. Carefully, get up and down from the dining room table. Be careful not to hit the table with your legs. Don't lean on someone else at a party, unless you are six.

15. Washington: Keep nails clean and short, and your hands and teeth clean, yet without showing any concern for them.

15. SSOE: Pay attention to your ADL's (activities of daily living). Don't fuss with your nails, hands and teeth in public. Please, take a toothpick when leaving the restaurant, but please pick your teeth with the toothpick in the Restroom or in private, not in the parking lot while walking to your car. Yuck. Would you floss your teeth in public? My husband once sat in a lunch meeting filled with owners of large, successful businesses and watched one business owner pull out dental floss after finishing his lunch and floss his teeth. Needless to say, others at the conference table put their forks down and, ready or not, were finished with their lunch.    

16. Washington: Do not puff up the cheeks, loll not out the tongue; (do not) rub the hands or beard, thrust out the lips or bite them, or keep the lips too open or too close(d).

16. SSOE: Public facial gestures give away your emotions that others can see and they may think you are frustrated at them. Plus, fidgeting with your face does not come across well. My Mother always runs her tongue over her teeth under her lips right before a photo is taken, so consequently, many of my photos of her do not show her at her best. Always try to come across as your best.

17. Washington: Be no flatterer; neither play with any that delight not to be played with.

17. SSOE: Do not unabashedly flirt with others unless you mean it and do not play practical jokes on anyone, for any reason, ever. One never knows how others will internalize being flirted with when it is not warranted, and one never knows how someone will take a joke being played on them. In College, I once played a small practical joke on my roommate by putting those Styrofoam "peanuts" inside a few of her sweaters and shoes because her parents had sent her a package with "peanut" stuffing and we were laughing about how much we hated the "peanut" stuffing. Later, I was finding peanut stuffing inside absolutely everything I owned....for weeks. What may seem funny in your own head may not be funny in practice.

18. Washington: Read no letters, books or papers in company; but when there is a necessity for doing so, you must ask leave. Come not near the books or writings of another, so as to read them, unless them unasked. Also look not when another is writing a letter.  

18. SSOE: Do not read a book in a corner when at a gathering with company unless you have expressly asked every one's permission. It is also rude to sit on the train, subway, bus or plane and read over some one's shoulder. 

19. Washington: Let your countenance be pleasant, but in serious matters somewhat grave. 

19. SSOE: Be happy, but do not smile all the time. People may not trust the constant smile. They may think you are hiding something or are not genuine.

20. Washington: The gestures of the body must be suited to the discourse you are upon.

20. SSOE: Any book on body language is worth the price and the read. The language of unspoken and unwritten gestures does matter. Body language matters socially, it matters while in a job interview, it matters once on the job, and body language even matters at home.

* Some sharp students at The University of Virginia are updating George Washington's 110 rules in their own study called: "The Civility Project." For more information on George Washington's rules, writings and papers see:

1 comment:

  1. I've been looking for a modern version of Washington's Rules. Do you have the rest of the rules published anywhere? Thank you


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