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Respectfully Yours: These worrying times require good manners

Dear Jacquelyn,

Our normal activities have suddenly changed and we are in uncharted territory. The usual rules for behavior are out the window and it can be difficult to know if the rules of etiquette we are accustomed to still apply. Has our definition of good manners changed?

Dear Reader,

This is an unprecedented time in history when it comes to etiquette rules because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. There is not a guide that we can refer to.

Etiquette is most certainly pivoting and evolving daily. Our communication model has transformed, and has shifted quite rapidly. The etiquette surrounding it has done the same.

One of the things we should really keep in mind is to recognize that things are going to be awkward. When in doubt, refer to the core values of etiquette: honesty, consideration and respect.

We’re all trying to find a new acceptable code of behavior. In this time of the coronavirus, with video calls and social distancing restrictions, it can be difficult to know if and when the normal rules apply.

For example, when you are not able to do a simple gesture like holding the door for someone, go through quickly. You are still being polite. Putting regular etiquette to the side doesn’t mean you’re being rude.

It’s more important to follow the advice from our health officials.

Most importantly, everyone should try to be extra nice and extra reasonable as a general rule. Some people may commit transgressions from time to time and may not even notice they’ve done anything wrong.

We need to do our best to remain understanding and patient. We are all in the same boat, struggling with the new normal.

In these worrying times, it’s crucial to simply be kind and navigate situations in a respectful, courteous way. Our good manners may just be the oil needed to keep the wheels of civility turning.

Respectfully Yours,


Have a question? Email: jacquelyn@ptd.net. Jacquelyn Youst is owner of the Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol, specializing in etiquette training. She is on the board of directors of the National Civility Foundation.

All Rights Reserved &Copy; 2020 Jacquelyn Youst