“Good Manners” Have No Expiration Date

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At the young age of sixteen, George Washington wrote 110 “Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.” They may be 250 years old at this point, however they are still relevant in today’s social and business arena.

Here are some of his timeless rules (original excerpt):

  • Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present. (Treat everyone with respect)
  • In writing or Speaking, give to every Person his due Title According to his Degree & the Custom of the Place.
  • Drink not nor talk with your mouth full; neither gaze about you while you are drinking
  • Put not another bite into your mouth till the former be swallowed. Let not your morsels be too big for the jowls.
  • If any one come to Speak to you while you are Sitting Stand up though he be your Inferior, and when you Present
  • Seats let it be to every one according to his Degree. If You Cough, Sneeze, Sigh, or Yawn, do it not Loud but Privately; and Speak not in your Yawning, but put Your handkerchief or Hand before your face and turn aside.
  • Sleep not when others Speak, Sit not when others stand, Speak not when you Should hold your Peace, walk not on when others Stop.
  • Associate yourself with Men of good Quality if you Esteem your own Reputation; for ‘is better to be alone than in bad Company
  • Take no Salt or cut Bread with your Knife Greasy.
  • Drink not too leisurely nor yet too hastily. Before and after drinking, wipe your lips; breath not then or ever with too great a noise, for its uncivil.
  • Cleanse not your teeth with the table cloth napkin, fork, or knife; but if others do it, let it be done without a peep to them.
  • If others talk at the table, be attentive but talk not with meat in your mouth.
  • Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.
  • It is no secret that knowing the rules of etiquette – the Art treating people with respect and courtesy – has a positive correlation to one’s success.


ProEtiCo, Gisela Kloess

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Gisela Klöss

Gisela conducts interactive workshops for companies and organizations interested in ensuring that every member exudes the highest level of professionalism and intercultural awareness. She assists teams in developing a culture which prevents conflict and fosters growth and individual appreciation. 

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