Part II: In the Drawing Room

  1. Don’t, in any case, offer to shake hands with a lady. The initiative must always come from her. By the same principle, don’t offer your hand to a person older than yourself, or to anyone whose rank may be supposed to be higher than your own, until he has extended his.
  2. Don’t be in a precipitate hurry to get into a chair. It is just as graceful, so easy, and as proper, to stand; and it is easier to converse in that altitude. Don’t put your feet on chairs when standing and conversing on lean on tables.
  3. Don’t be cold and distant; don’t on the other hand be gushing and effusive. A cordial yet quiet manner is best. Don’t say to others, when the person has left–“I don’t like that person.” If you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything.
  4. Don’t fail to rise, if you are seated, whenever a lady enters the room and speaks to you.
  5. Don’t stretch yourself on the sofa or in the easy-chair. Don’t lounge anywhere except in your own apartment.
  6. Don’t sit cross-legged. Pretty nearly everybody of the male sex does but, nevertheless, don’t.
  7. Don’t respond to remarks made to you with mere monosyllables. This is chilling, if not fairly insulting. Have something to say, and say it.
  8. Don’t, in dancing, present ladies to gentlemen; gentlemen should be presented to ladies. Young men should be presented to elderly men, and not the reverse; young women to elderly women.
  9. Don’t touch people when you have occasion to address them. Catching people by the arms or the shoulders, or nudging them to attract their attention, is a violation of good breeding.
  10. Don’t hiccough, sneeze or spit.
  11. Don’t whisper in company! If what you wish to say cannot be spoken aloud, reserve it for a suitable occasion and that suitable occasion ought, perhaps, not to come.
  12. Don’t talk about yourself or your affairs. If you wish to be popular, talk to people about what interests them, not yourself.
  13. Don’t be witty at another’s expense. Don’t ridicule anyone; don’t infringe in any way the harmony of the company.
  14. Don’t cling to one subject. Don’t talk about matters that people generally are not interested in; don’t, in short, be a bore.
  15. Don’t repeat old jokes or tell time-worn stories. Don’t make obvious puns. An occasional pun, if a good one, is a good thing; but a ceaseless flow of puns is simply maddening.
  16. Don’t appear listless and indifferent or exhibit impatience when others are talking. Listening politely to everyone is a cardinal necessity of good breeding.
  17. Don’t show a disposition to find fault or depreciate. Indiscriminate praise is nauseating; but, on the other hand, indiscriminate condensation is irritating.
  18. Don’t show repugnance even to a bore. A supreme list of politeness is submission to various social inflictions without a wince.
  19. Don’t stand before the fire, to the exclusion of the warmth from others.
  20. Don’t, in entering or leaving a room with ladies, go before them. They should have precedence always. In public halls, if there is an usher, ladies first. If there is not an usher, ladies follow.

Ole Voices No. 2: Etiquette 101


St. Olaf College: A Selected Chronology

Section I: Etiquette 101
In General
In the Drawing Room
In Public
Dress and Personal Habits
Table Manners
Rules for Boys
Rules for Girls

Section II: Transgressions
Keeping the Rules