Unwritten Social Rules

People think that if you are a woman, you can shake hands with a man while you are sitting down. It is of utmost importance that you recognize that the person coming over to shake your hand, is honoring you by doing so. The least you can do is stand up and let him or her know that the feeling of respect is mutual. And it should also be emphasized that if the man is much older than you, and you are half his age or whatever, it is downright rude to be sitting while he extends his hand.

Having said that, I should add, that shaking hands in and of itself is not very cool. YUP! You don’t know if the person has coughed in his hand, wiped the thook off his lips, (gross) or sneezed into his palms. So what should we do? I will tell you what I do. I usually reach for the person’s arm and if I know him well, tell him, “Oh let me hug you”, and barely touch my neck to his shoulder; and if that doesn’t happen, I use the nearest restroom to wash my hands out. And this leads me to say how good it is to do the ‘adaab’ and the ‘salam’ and touch your own heart, as we do in the Islamic culture or the Namaste in India, to let the person know what a delight it is to see/meet him/her.

Another lesson I have learned is to stand up when the doctor enters the office to talk to you before examination. There was a lady who was my patient. A very beautiful and elegant Austrian lady who obviously came from a very cultured and sophisticated background. She was much much older than me. Every time I went into the office, she would instantly stand up and greet me with a “Hello Dr. Ali, it is good to see you.” Her elegance made a lasting impression on me. I would tell her she didn’t have to stand up, and she would smile at me benevolently and with a tilt of her head, tell me, “Your education has to be respected. Please don’t mind me standing up.”  I have always stood up any time I have gone to see a physician, whether it be a general practitioner or a specialist. It is always good to see people who are respectful.

Social rules guide us as to how we interact with others. The foundation should be set in childhood itself. It is so important for us to teach our children to respect older people and address them properly. I know a couple of kids who are teenagers and they cannot even open their mouths to say a proper greeting.  If the kids are ill behaved, then do not take them to places where you would be embarrassed.

Taking turns to talk, and listening to a person while she/he is talking, is very important. You cannot monopolize the conversation. Nothing is more appalling and atrocious and rude than to have someone go on and on about their own life and history, while you try to suppress the yawns. There is a finesse in keeping a conversation going. Try to involve the other person in the conversation, and if you don’t do that, you will look like the world’s most narcissistic individual. Seriously!

http://www.amazon.com/author/zakiah sayeed.

About Zakiah

I write poetry and some fiction, have a book that was published in 2012. . . Stray Thoughts/Winged Words. I have four grandchildren, ages 16 and half to almost 16 months. I love the ocean, and grew up along the Indian Ocean in South India. I am a retired physician. Don't know much else to say. Thanks for reading. That has been my profile for so many years. My daughter Saadia a great poet and story teller, has two sons; the oldest grandson is now 21 years old, doing architectural engineering at Missouri S&T in Rolla MO. His younger brother is almost 16 and taking driving lessons seriously and is in High School. The other two grandsons, children of my son Sayeed, are 9 and 5. I have recently published another book titled Gulistan, A home of Flowers. It has stories and memories of my childhood and of a distant land which I still consider as my HOME., even though I have lived here in the US for more than fifty years. Hope to see you on my blog.
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9 Responses to Unwritten Social Rules

  1. murisopsis says:

    Times and conventions change – sometimes rapidly. I was always taught that a man should not offer to shake a woman’s hand as that was presumptuous on his part. Instead a gentleman should wait for the woman to extend her hand first. But that custom has died a long time ago.

    • Zakiah says:

      In India, there was never a question about shaking hand of a woman or man. It was always the raise of the man’s hand to his forehead with his neck and head lowered, greeting of “Peace and Respect”. I think the older families continue with this tradition.
      Val thank you for a beautiful comment as usual. I learn so much from you.

  2. The first part of your post, Zakiah, could be titled ” Courtesy and hygiene”
    The rules of courtesy are beautiful but tend to be forgotten nowadays , unfortunately
    Love ❤

    • Zakiah says:

      Dear Michel,
      Thank you. Hygiene is my second name, me thinks. My children roll their eyes every time I single something out to them or their children. Courtesy indeed is a dying art. I was in Montreal Canada in 1995, when Mohamed’s nephew was diagnosed with an incurable cancer and I had gone to be with his parents for a few days. They had introduced me to some of the friends of their son. They were such gentlemen, with perfect etiquette and courtesy, and so polite. I will never forget their behavior. Wish the teenagers of this country could learn some of those characteristics. I thank God my children and grandchildren have such impeccable manners.

      I am sending you an email. Please check that.

  3. Unfortunately, manners, it seems, have ‘gone to the wind, these days.

  4. Excellent, SweetZ! And I agree! 🙂

    I wish good social etiquette (manners, etc.) was contagious. And ill mannered people could catch good manners from those who already live by them. 😉

    When I will be socializing with people, especially if I know I will be meeting new people, I go armed with a smile and some good questions. I like asking people questions and getting to know them. And I genuinely listen to their answers, which brings about more good questions to ask them about themselves.

    I always call people older than me Mr.____ or Mrs. ____or whatever they prefer to be called. And when people have titles, I use those titles no matter what their age. For example, Most of my doctors are younger than me, but I always say Dr. ___. I have great respect for them, and appreciation!

    (I think it’s rude when people aren’t listening and are just thinking about what they will say next. I can see it in their eyes.)
    HUGS!!! 🙂

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