Newport Manners & Etiquette: Empower Better Student Social Skills With Super Good Manners,+ More

Wednesday, September 06, 2017


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Teaching your student good manners, entertaining mom and dad, the inhospitality of rude waiters, and caring about a terminally ill friend were questions to Didi Lorillard this week at NewportManners.

Back to school manners to keep in mind

Q. Not to boast, but our son is extremely intelligent. However, he seems to lack certain social skills. As parents, what can we do to help him fit in better?  PW, Seattle


A. If you're one of those parents like me who fears that their child is not ready to soar out on their own, there are steps you can take to give him a stronger edge for social success. The earlier you start teaching the social skills you want him to have, the greater the reward.

  • Early on help him to identify and discuss his emotions, and to be able to self soothe, wait patiently, problem solve, delay gratification, and maintain control over his emotions.
  • Good manners and social skills will take him a long way with his teachers as well as the other students. He should be able to carry on a conversation with a person of any age. And be able to stick up for a friend by speaking up. He should know when to keep a secret and when to refuse to keep a secret.
  • Talk about the importance of being a good listener, and when to recognize when he's made a mistake and needs to apologize.
  • He should be able to talk over a disappointment or disagreement  and be able to say I love you and give a big hug to those who are that special to him.
  • Help him to understand that there will be times when he has to be flexible and go to a contingency plan if something doesn't pan out as planned.


Whether preparing a young child or young adult for school or college, having good manners on their mind will give him a leg up when it comes to getting along with others. Manners

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are about consideration:

  • Hold the door open for people.
  • When walking never crossover in front of another person, because you could trip them up.
  • Let women on elevators and escalators first.
  • When talking face-to-face remove earbuds and sunglasses.
  • Never touch or push people away, unless the touch was inappropriate.
  • Don't ask personal questions, such as how much do your parents make?
  • Get comfortable with hand shaking and introducing himself by saying, "Hello, my name is ..." when he meets someone new.
  • Make introductions if you're not positive that people know one another. Even if he just says, "Jack this is Oscar."
  • Don't whisper in front of another person: it's rude.
  • Basic table manners: eating with a knife and fork, not blowing his nose at the table, and not chewing with his mouth open.
  • Always, say Please, Thank you, You're Welcome, and "Excuse me, please."


Parent sitting mom and dad

Q.  I am the 35-year-old second son of parents who had a contentious divorce. My siblings are married with children and live plane rides away.  I, however, am between both parents geographically. I have a two-hours drive either north or south from my house to one parent or the other. I do the lions share of the parent sitting. It has become my lot in life to entertain them separately twice a month. Since I am a workaholic, it means four Saturdays a month are spent with one or the other. I have no life outside work. How do I ween them before they get too old when I'll be feeling even more guilty?  Name Withheld


A. Gently. I'm assuming since the divorce was difficult that they don't talk -- so you are in luck. Try whittling down your visits to holidays. Start by begging off one Saturday a month, bringing you down to having two Saturdays when you're fancy free. Once they get used to not planning on seeing you so often, they'll start making other plans. Eventually they'll get the idea that you have a social life that doesn't include them.

Whittling down your Saturday obligations may take some socializing on your part.


Best hospitality advice

Q.  When a waiter is carrying something or briskly walking past to fetch an order, is it correct etiquette for him or her to crossover in front of an approaching guest? We have great discussions about this at the restaurant where I work because we've had a lot accidents when waitstaff collided with guests? Who has the right of way, the waiter or the guest? CD, Newport, RI


A. The guest or client has the right of way. It goes along with "the customer is always right." Waitstaff should be trained to respect the guests in the restaurant by letting them pass through first.

Disclosing a friends illness

Q. A friend of mine wrote me (along with her other close friends) a letter announcing that she had a brain tumor and didn't expect to be around at Christmas. At our garden club meeting, one of her other close friends, who happens to be the club president, got up in front of all the other members and announced the pending death of our absent friend. 

Was the club president using correct etiquette by announcing her imminent death to members who hadn't received the sad, sweet note? Or am I being overly sensitive? Shouldn't the dying person have a modicum of control over who knows what when?  Name Withheld


A. Being all for full disclosure (for the most part), I don't personally think it was a misstep by the president of the garden club to disclose a secret that would be outed as some point by Christmas. Is it possible that the terminally ill member gave her consent?

Why not suggest that the garden club organize a meal project and fill her calendar with volunteers bringing meals. Before doing so you would, of course, have to tell the terminally ill patient about your plan. Which means mentioning that the whole garden club knows about her brain tumor.

You might find that she welcomes the ultra short visits from her garden club comrades. Just be sure that you have a list of her favorite foods as well as those she dislikes. 

Didi Lorillard researches manners and etiquette at NewportManners for her forthcoming book NEWPORT MANNERS.


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