Social Etiquette and Good Manners/Reciprocity


Hello !
Perhaps you can provide me with some input.
About 2 years ago, I accidentally ran into an old HS alumni of mine.  Though we were never 'pals', we had a pleasant conversation and decided to go and have coffee at Mc Donald's.
There was really not very much in common and I pretty much wound up listening to this person's philosophies as he spoke incessantly and I was not given much of an opportunity to say much of anything.  The few times I did get in a word or two he would ask to see samples of my work - I'm a writer - which I provided but I never heard any feedback from him.
Since I currently reside in a most unfriendly area and frankly do not know anyone who is fairly decent - I felt that I should do something to jump start the association.  So I invited both himself and his wife to my house for coffee on two occasions.  She declined to come though he came.  It was his birthday so I offered up a cake for his special day though he was also quite undemonstrative.
He had also wanted a brochure from me regarding a bus tour company that goes to many places because he claims both he and his wife wanted to join my family and I on future excursions.  I did provide him with the information but apparently never heard anything more about this topic.
He also claimed that I would be going to his house for tea and also he would be throwing a party at his house where I would meet his friends.
It never occurred so I felt the time had come for me to be honest and to question him on a number of incongruities.  Instead of discussing this matter in a civilized manner - he became totally ballistic and advised me never to call him again.
Evidently, the man was somewhat of a moocher and I would like to know how to best handle such situations in the future.
Thanks !  
PS : This person lives but 2 short walking blocks from me so I cannot say they were exactly neighborly either.

Dear Walter:
Your high school friend is lacking in the social graces.  Even if he didn't intend to elongate your relationship past coffee, he should have been kinder.  He is like many people who accept the efforts of others reaching out and try to go along but don't have the skills and courage to know how to encourage the relationship between them and the others.  When you wanted clarification and confronted him, he immediately went on the defensive and didn't know how to handle it.  This is one relationship better off finished.  However, since he and his wife are your neighbors, when you see them, just be civil and pleasant.

But you also asked about what should be done in the future so that a repeat situation doesn't arise.   When you have a new or newly re-established relationship starting, don't try so hard.  Sit back and let the other person make the effort to get to know you.  If they do, then you can match the effort with your own and the relationship may have a chance to grow.  If they don't, you know they just aren't into it and it would be better to let it go.  Many people get intimidated by others who have more confidence and manners and feel threatened by them.  You may be intimidating because of this and unbalanced relationships are never as good or worth as much effort as those in which balance exists.

Social Etiquette and Good Manners

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Cynthia W. Lett


Proper manners with friends,family,colleagues,neighbors and everyone else you know.


I have been an etiquette expert teaching and consulting on the subject worldwide since 1983. I started and serve as the Executive Director of the International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals and am considered a leader in the field of etiquette and protocol training and execution. I edited "Etiquette for Dummies" and have recently written "Lett's Talk - Everyday Etiquette Dilemmas and What to Do about Them". My book, "That's So Annoying:An Etiquette Expert on the World's Most Irritating Habits And What To Do About Them" was published in 2009 and is available wherever books are sold. I taught the Business Protocol class to Master's level students at the George Washington University, Washington, DC for seven years I served as Chief of Protocol for MCI Telecommunications for three years.

International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals, ASTD, PCMA, National Speakers Association

I have been quoted over 700 times in the past 5 years worldwide. Publications include Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Washington Times, NY Times, Washington Business Journal, USA Today, Associated Press, London Times, Newsweek Japan edition, Newsweek US edition and many many more.

I am a Certified Etiquette Professional (CEP) and Certified Protocol Professional (CPP) earned by examination through ISPEP. I have a Master's degree in hospitality law and undergrad degrees in Restaurant & Hotel Management and Public Relations/Interpersonal Communications from Purdue University.

Awards and Honors
Who's Who Worldwide,Who's Who of American Women, Distinguished Darden Professor (Purdue University).

Past/Present Clients
World Bank, United Nations,US Dept. of State, US. Dept. of the Army, Pentagon, Barclays Global Investors,Accenture,Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, The White House, Dept. of State, AT&T,Bank of America,American Association of Clinical Pharmacies,Ritz Carlton Hotels, Hilton Hotels, Marriott Hotels,Starwood Hotels,and many more.

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