Manners

I don’t have the most perfect manners, but the one rule I try to enforce when out to dinner or visiting a friend is to put away my phone and not touch it—no checking emails or browsing through Twitter or Instagram (although I think it’s okay to have your phone on vibrate in case someone is calling you about an emergency). At MIT, manners and etiquette are taught to students to prepare themselves for the business world during an event called Charm School, now in its 20th year. From the LA Times:

How does an observant Muslim navigate a business breakfast during the fasting month of Ramadan, for example? (Politely explain why you won’t be eating but don’t give a lecture on religion, skip the meeting or demand it be rescheduled.) Should a male employee hold the door for his female boss? (If you get to the door first, sure, and do it for your male colleagues as well — it’s polite.) What to do if you’re expecting an important call but don’t want to keep the cellphone out during lunch with the boss? (If it’s really that important, explain that you’re expecting a crucial call, put the ringer on silent, and if the phone lights up during the meal, excuse yourself to answer it.)

Students are also taught how to eat difficult food, like shellfish during business dinners and how to approach alumni about networking. We should all go to Charm School! Or at least learn to put away our phones when someone is talking to you.

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