1. People & Relationships

Social Grace

Etiquette and Manners When Making Friends

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Rude behavior will cost you friendships.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Definition:

Social grace refers to the general behavior and attitude of being polite and welcoming to people. This means putting other's needs before your own in some cases, like offering a chair to an elderly person rather than sitting down on it first. It also means paying attention to your own behavior to make sure you aren't offending others.

Social grace is extremely important when meeting new friends. Relationships can develop at a faster rate if you show courtesy toward someone else. As a friendship goes on and friends get more comfortable with each other, social graces are relaxed. For example, when you're new friends with someone you'll probably make a point to interrupt them less during conversation. As time goes on, you'll each learn when your friend is being rude and when they are just excited or bored. You won't get offended as much when they interrupt you because you'll understand the intent behind it.

Social grace(s) include things like:

  • Making proper introductions to people.
  • Listening and not interrupting in conversation.
  • Using good table manners.
  • Maintaining good cell phone etiquette.
  • Being careful not to put your foot in your mouth.

Developing Social Grace

Some of the basic rules of society that our parents taught us ("Don't interrupt," "wait your turn") are key components of social grace. While you can pick up books on etiquette, developing social grace often takes time and the ability to pay attention. Rather than focusing on how good a time you're having or if you are able to talk about your latest success story, hang back and watch the others in the room. Do they seem to frown when you start talking? If they do, it's a good chance you're boring them or you interrupted them.

In each new event or environment you are in, pay attention to the goings on around you. Does someone need a chair? Is a person fanning their face and therefore warm? Is there someone sitting in a corner who hasn't joined the conversation? See if you can help in any of these situations.

You can also learn social grace by taking note of what you find rude in others. If you hate it when someone fails to introduce you or takes every cell phone call they get while standing before you, those are behaviors to make sure never to duplicate yourself.

Social Grace and Friendship

Social grace is extremely important when it comes to friendship. When finding a friend, you want someone sincere who will support you and who you can also have fun with. If a person pays attention to your comfort level and has good manners, you're more apt to get to know them better than someone that makes you feel uncomfortable or embarrassed to be around.

While social grace tends to be loosened a bit for good friends (much like you would for family), the principles behind them are still a good idea to remember. You don't need to be formal or stuffy to have social grace, you simply need to make sure your behavior is not offensive and that you are making other people feel special. That alone will go far in friendship.

Also Known As: Manners, Etiquette, Proper Behavior, Socially Acceptable, Politeness

Examples: "Bob is always putting his foot in his mouth. A little social grace would go far with him."

"Jack has the social grace of a bull in a china shop. He just walked into the room and plopped down in a chair, even when Mrs. Smith clearly needed the seat."

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