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Wednesday, March 09, 2005
The One With Male Etiquette 

Something I received in the mail box...

The Top Three Issues in Daily Life

The art of etiquette really comes down to being thoughtful of the other people you encounter in your everyday life. We all tend to associate "proper behavior" with formal social events-but true etiquette involves behaving with respect and consideration for others in everything that you do, from attending a high-society soiree to simply hanging out around the house.

In fact, daily life is where men tend to run into more trouble than anywhere else. When the 750 women who responded to our recent Post Survey came to the question "What are the most annoying things men do in their daily lives?" we got quite an earful.

Here's a summary of the three main areas that our female respondents identified as their top hot-button issues when it comes to men and their everyday behavior:

* Manners Matter *

Opening doors. Putting down the toilet seat. Being on time. Not spitting. Taking off your hat indoors. Saying "Please" and "Thank you." Trying to be discreet and quiet when blowing your nose. These and other niceties may seem trivial to many men, but here's the scoop: it all matters. When you don't use the manners that people have come to expect -- failing to open the door for a woman, for instance -- it's not simply a sign that you're clueless; it shows a lack of consideration. That's what bothers women about men who don't have manners.

This brings us back to the essential guiding principle of this book: Good manners are not a matter of simply "following the rules." What's important is the reason underlying the desired behavior. Etiquette is about being considerate and honest with others. Manners matter, because manners are really about showing respect for another person. We hold the door for a woman not because there's a rule that says we should, but because it is an act of kindness and a way to make the woman you're with feel special. When you act in this spirit, she will know it and appreciate you for it. If you hold the door just because "that's the rule," she'll see right through you.

* Helping Out Matters -- A Lot *

Here's a simple technique for driving a woman nuts: take the dishes to the sink -- and then just leave them there. As one of our female respondents put it, "If you can carry them to the sink, why can't you take the time to put them in the dishwasher???"

According to the Post Survey, when it comes to helping out around the house, the modern male still has a long way to go. Those men who do help out at home scored higher in the category of "pleasing things that men do in their daily lives" than anything else, and by a wide margin. These men are role models for us all: they do the dishes, they do chores -- without being asked. They do the "manly" jobs like washing the car, mowing the lawn, taking out the garbage -- but they also help clean the house and do the laundry, and they don't leave a mess for someone else to pick up later. They clean up the counter and put away the fixings before they eat the sandwich they just made. They buy flowers "just because," or call her at work just to ask how she's doing. They give her compliments, unprompted. They hold hands. These guys are really good.

Why do women appreciate it so much? As our survey revealed, women perceive helping out as more than simply a matter of men doing their "assigned" chores or showing a little kindness. It's a matter of voluntarily taking responsibility and sharing the load.

* Being Inconsiderate and Being Disrespectful Go Hand in Hand *

Staring at other women. Talking down to women. Ignoring their opinions. Interrupting. Not introducing them. Simply ignoring them altogether. Walking several steps ahead of her rather than beside her. The Post Survey found that women don't simply view these behaviors as being rude or inconsiderate -- to women, they represent a fundamental lack of personal respect.

To be fair, most men's "inconsiderate" or "disrespectful" behavior is not intentional. Men frequently get lost in their thoughts and go to far-off places in their minds without even realizing the journey has started, or considering the consequences. That's when they get into trouble.

Consider the issue of looking at another attractive woman who happens to cross your path. I do this unconsciously, I admit. But when my eyes stop looking at my wife's, and my attention shifts away just as she is making an important point, she views this as a case of my not being attentive to her. And she's right -- my attention has wandered. Whenever a man "switches off" his thinking or wanders off on a mind journey, he runs the risk of looking inconsiderate and, by extension, disrespectful.

On a personal note, it scares me when I see what I've just written because I see some of myself in this description, and unfortunately it's not the good part. How long has it been since I made the bed in the morning? Why didn't I do those dishes from last night's dinner that were piled in the sink? After all, she made dinner. The least I could have done was clean up afterward. And I can't remember the last time I bought my wife flowers. Instead, I've been heard at the supermarket bemoaning the fact that she's picking out flowers and buying them for herself. Talk about clueless!

Any comments? Guys? Gals?

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