Thursday, January 20, 2011

Good manners aren't dead, they're living at the Ritz

“Good morning, Madam, how may I be of service?” How long has it been since someone called you Madam or Sir? How long has it been since someone assisting you at a bank or other business made you feel like the most important person they met all day?
In an age of instant messages, texts and tweets with no salutations, it is easy to lose track of our common courtesy. I’m as guilty of this as anyone, but I recently had a reminder of the power of good manners.

In a recent business class, our instructor had a fascinating amount of information on how the Ritz Carlton Hotels all over the world train their staff, including the small trifold paper carried by staff members reminding them of the rules. A warm greeting, assistance with a smile, and a fond farewell are all required.
Employees at the hotel are required to address everyone as “Madam or Sir” and have sample phrases such as, “It would be my pleasure to assist you.” The impression is that whether you are the Princess of Genovia or a businessman attending a convention or Joe Plumber, as soon as you step through their door, you become royalty in the world of the Ritz.
Manners and mannerisms can cast a character so quickly. As I work on my current project, I'm trying to remember the quiet courtesy of the Korean people. It is a challenge in my current fast paced, fast tracked communication world. But its important to the feel of the story to pay attention to the manners of the people.

How do good or bad manners play into your characters or stories?


  1. In my current WIP, I started the married couple happy and in love. Then I realized that was BORING. So I had to introduce bad manners into the fray. I had to think of rude things to say to each other, and since I am NON-confrontational, that was very hard. :)

    But its amazing how manners define a character. You can put people off by someone being a little off . . .

  2. This reminded me of when hubby and I dined at a fancy schmancy restaurant (several years ago, pre-kids)and the host referred to us as "Miss and Sir". We chuckled about it at the time, but I still remember it because it is nice to be treated like a VIP sometimes. Also, I liked that they used "Miss" instead of "M'am" or "Madam", which always makes me feel like a grandmother.

    As far as my characters go, I've got a few ill-mannered folks in my WIP and they are fun to write.

  3. Not sure about all my characters, but I try to have bad manners whenever possible. It's good for the solar plexus :)