Real Talk

5 Common Etiquette Mistakes We Make

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When it comes to manners and etiquette, these are five that Filipino families often make.

Good manners and proper etiquette are essential because it shows that we value and respect others. It promotes kindness, consideration, and humility. Moreover, it gives us the confidence to deal with a variety of situations.

We sat down with Monica Santiago-Muñoz, a certified EQ Practitioner, certified Positive Parenting Facilitator, and founder and program director of La Vie Institute — the only school in the country with an Emotional Intelligence-based total personality development program. Part of the school’s offerings includes training programs on image and branding, public speaking, making effective presentations, stress management, and more. She’s also a mom who recognizes the importance of building life skills even at a young age.

“We offer learning events for Teens, Young Adults, and Adults, that are driven to equip attendees with opportunities to become mindful about themselves and others through workshops centered on Emotional intelligence, Communication Skills, Social Graces, and Image and Branding.”

good manners and etiquette

Why is Etiquette Important?

For Monica, etiquette is in place so as to be respectful and courteous to people around us. It’s not to impress, but to contribute to making an environment that is respectful and orderly. This way, everyone feels safe and comfortable. It is not meant to intimidate or isolate people either. But instead, it’s a way to ensure that everyone can equally partake in an event or gathering and enjoy it together.

“We should normalize being upfront about our expectations when we throw events and gatherings. Being clear about the duration, budget, RSVP deadline, and such is a good way to set a tone. Whether we are dining out with family, inviting friends out, or throwing a party.”

Common Etiquette Mistakes

1. Not washing your hands

“This should be basic but is still not consistently done,” says Monica. “I suggest making it into a family ritual and everyone making sure that their first stop is to the sink before joining meals.”

2. Using your phone at the table

“Meals are opportunities to gather and connect. Being intentional about disconnecting from gadgets is a sign of respect, allowing you to be fully present to enjoy the meal and the company.”

3. Failure to RSVP

“This is one of the most inconsiderate yet often done. I cannot stress enough how important it is to RSVP to the host at their requested date of acceptance or decline. Gatherings take resources — time, money and energy — to plan and when we do not express our intention clearly, we inconvenience the host and waste resources. Be respectful and decline if you’re unable to attend. Filipinos usually refrain from saying ‘no’ because they think it may offend. But in beating around the bush, they actually do offend the host because of the inconveniences done.”

4. If being treated out, ask the host to order for you or ask them for suggestions

“This gives the host choices on what is comfortable for his or her budget to treat. Do not order something more expensive than what the host has ordered for themselves.”

5. Speak up about any allergies you may have

“Do not be shy to inform friends and hosts about any food allergies you have. Inform the server as well and ask what contents the dishes have.”

How Can Families Teach Their Kids Etiquette and Make it Fun?

Monica advises parents that modeling is always key if your intention is for children to learn. “As parents, we must first be aware of why etiquette is valuable and what it contributes. Seeing etiquette as a set of rules we must follow will not make for meaningful learning. It will not stick and translate into a habit.”

“As a family, when etiquette is introduced, we must lead by ensuring that everyone is aligned with the why. So if we wish to practice ‘no phones on the dining table’, it would be great for the parent to start off with explaining their intention. For example: ‘I would love it if we get to tell each other about our day while we eat. It’s the end of the day and I want to know how you spent it. I would like everyone to join me to place all phones and gadgets outside while we are eating, so we can be here and not distracted.’ It is also very important that we do not shame anyone in the family for not knowing something or for forgetting.”

“Habits take consistency to build. As parents, we must model this consistency. In making it fun, watching movies where etiquette lessons are featured can be a good opportunity to have some talk points. Movies or clips from Princess Diaries or Miss Congeniality would be fun to watch. Creating events at home for kids to practice formal dining in preparation for formal events is a good opportunity to teach buffet protocols, types of silverware and glasses, and more. A cultural night monthly would also be a fun event to introduce different dishes, and include cultural practices and etiquette as trivia.”

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