Modern Ms. Manners, social media and signings.

I have a real issue with rules of etiquette. I think it’s because I’ve had some bad experiences with them. Most of the rules tend to have a sexist slant. I grew up hearing a lot of this.

Don’t order messy food on a date.

Don’t finish a meal on a date.

Don’t put on makeup in front of anyone.

Don’t raise your voice.

Don’t swear.

Don’t discuss religion or politics in public.

Don’t argue.

Don’t wear revealing clothing. Your clothes should always come to your knees and cover your shoulders.

Obviously, these aren’t really geared at men. They are all part of the picture of a lovely young lady who’s not difficult, not easy and probably didn’t pay for dinner. I ignore all of these rules and have lived quite a happy life because of it.

Some of the advice I received about how a lady behaves is just good advice for everyone. At least, I follow these rules any time I’d like to be taken seriously.

Sit up straight in a chair.

Don’t cross your legs. (if you ever meet me and I’m sitting down, you’ll notice that I cross my ankles.)

Don’t ask for anything when visiting. It may put your host in the uncomfortable situation of having to say no.

If you have a guest, be sure to offer food, drinks or medicine if your guest seems unwell.

Now that I’m teaching my girls to be members of larger society, I’m thinking about how I want them to behave in public. And it also got me to thinking of how we, as authors behave, both online and at signings.

So here are some suggestions for polite behavior online and when attending an event as an author. Mind you, these are only suggestions. But I tend to think well of people who behave this way.

Online

When discussing politics or religion online, remember that insulting people is going to make them shut out your message. Display facts, not personal insults. Unless your political or religious opinions are part of your author brand, don’t bring them up on your public accounts at all. That’s what your personal Facebook page is for.

While honestly is always good, try not to complain on social media. No one who likes you wants to hear it. Anyone who doesn’t like you is way too happy to hear it.

Don’t talk badly about anyone in the business. It only serves to make you look childish.

Polite arguments over sports are appreciated. Being an asshole over sports is not.

When possible, respond to people who reach out to you online. You might not be able to get everyone and don’t spend your whole day on this, but make an effort. They made the effort to talk to you, after all.

At signings

You are a guest in that bookstore or coffee shop. So behave as such.

Don’t take up more room than you need.

Don’t assume that everyone is here to see you. This is a place of business, and some of their business doesn’t care about you at all.

Thank the staff courteously. They have to do extra work to deal with your signing.

Don’t strut. Be thankful for the time they’ve allowed you to be in their place of business and always voice your thanks.

That’s it for my first Writers Manners. I’m sure I’ll have some more of these, since being super nice to people while not being a pushover is something I pride myself on. Let me know in the comments below if you have any manners tips, or if there’s something you’d like me to discuss.

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