There was no easier way to get whacked at my house than to display bad manners. We weren't the wealthiest people growing up but my Mom and Dad made sure that my sister and my two brothers and I understood how to show respect and how to be polite. I think manners may be dying out with my generation or at least the generation that is next in line.

To be fair I grew up in a simpler time. A time when interpersonal relationships were how things got done. We didn't have text, computers, Facebook, or Skype. We did have walkie-talkies but those only lasted until you broke the antenna.

So what about manners in this time of modern convenience and very little interaction in person? How do we handle certain situations? Let's look at four of those situations shall we?


Sergio Dionisio, Getty Images

If you're in the middle seat on an airplane, which armrest is yours? According to good etiquette they both are yours to use. However, you do not own them. So if someone puts an elbow on one you shouldn't fight them off like angels in an Axe Body Spray commercial. The person by the window gets the armrest by the window. The person on the aisle gets the armrest by the aisle as the poor soul in the middle you get your choice or even both armrests.


When is it okay to unfriend someone on Facebook? There is no hard and fast rule for this, it's basically a judgement call on your part. It is a judgement call with consequences though. It's more socially acceptable to just ignore than to unfriend a person, especially if you have personal contact with that individual on a semi-regular basis. Studies have shown that dropping someone on Facebook often leads to the end of a real life relationship as well. Choose carefully even if they are the epitome of the southbound end of a northbound mule on Facebook.


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Is an e-mail thank you note good enough? It is if you're thanking someone for a nice chat, a lunch, or something that is very casual. The times when a handwritten note is the proper thing to do is when the expression of thanks is for something very meaningful. Saying thank you for a graduation or wedding gift is a time when a handwritten note is the only option. A handwritten note conveys a lot of respect. It is a true sign of genuine gratitude. I suggest a handwritten note to a prospective employer for giving you an interview. If it comes down to you and another you want to be the one remembered for going above and beyond right?



Is it okay to refuse a handshake if you or the other person is sick? Not only is it okay I would say it's encouraged. However, you do need to acknowledge why you aren't extending your hand. Most people will really appreciate you letting them know that you don't want to spread your illness to them. Even if you're not the sick one you can use that line if you see your acquaintance approaching with an extended hand for shaking and in the other hand is a tissue.

Sometimes I feel like common decency has gone the way of cursive handwriting. It is practiced by only a few not understood by many. In each of these cases the situation at hand is about respect. I believe resp