Etiquette, a term that encompasses good manners, has been a guiding principle for past generations. From table settings to tactful language, it has helped maintain decorum in society. While younger individuals may display respect, they often overlook the traditional aspects of etiquette that older generations continue to uphold.
According to Lisa Mirza Grotts, a San Francisco-based etiquette expert, older people are generally more considerate and mindful of their behavior. They use honorifics and readily offer their seats on buses to others. Their kindness sets them apart.
However, older individuals face the challenge of navigating the ever-changing landscape of social norms. With everyone engrossed in their phones, they may wonder if maintaining eye contact during face-to-face conversations is necessary anymore. They may also question the appropriateness of responding with a phone call instead of a text when inundated with messages. And what about responding to their grandkids’ social media posts? What’s the right way to react?
One major hurdle for older people is adjusting to the speed of modern life. Constant notifications and short video clips can be overwhelming for those who are not accustomed to the fast-paced nature of contemporary communication.
Moreover, there is a debate about the relevancy of etiquette in today’s world. Actions such as holding doors open for others or letting women exit elevators first used to be customary. However, societal expectations have evolved, and it is now less clear what is considered appropriate behavior.
To help older individuals navigate this changing landscape with grace, here are four etiquette tips:
When introducing someone, merely stating their name is not enough. Adding a biographical tidbit can serve as an icebreaker and enliven the conversation. For example, instead of just saying, “Jan, I want you to meet Ron,” try saying, “Jan, I’d like you to meet Ron, my son visiting from Utah.” Speaking slowly and clearly is essential, especially when addressing seniors.
With a mindful approach and a willingness to adapt, older individuals can successfully navigate the digital age while preserving the essence of etiquette.
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“A lot of older people are hard of hearing,” as stated by Grotts, a renowned expert. It is important to be mindful of your speaking habits when communicating with seniors. Speaking too fast, mumbling, or cutting off your sentences prematurely can make you difficult to understand.
Paying for Restaurant Meals
When dining out with family and friends, there is no strict rule that the oldest person should always foot the bill. Some retirees may enjoy treating their loved ones, while others may not feel obligated to do so.
Grotts advises that one should never assume anything in these situations. If an adult child is financially capable, it is a kind gesture for them to offer to pay. This serves as a way of repaying the parent for all the sacrifices they made while raising them. Alternatively, the person who initiated the outing and selected the restaurant could take responsibility for covering the expenses.
Writing Condolence Cards
The act of writing a condolence card has long been regarded as the gold standard protocol for expressing sympathy. Many seniors are accustomed to handwritten thank-you notes and condolence cards rather than using digital methods such as emails or social media platforms.
When composing a condolence card, it is important to mention the deceased’s name and fondly reflect on what they meant to you or how they influenced your life. It is common for people to use generic terms when referring to the deceased (“so sorry about your husband”), but it is more meaningful to acknowledge them by their name.
Discussing Your Health Ailments
When friends inquire about your health, a concise overview would suffice as a response. There is no need to delve into the details unless they specifically ask for more information.
Although it may be tempting to share all the intricacies of your health journey, it is important to consider whether others genuinely want to hear about it. Offering too much information upfront may deter potential allies who could provide practical advice or support in times of need.