Funeral Etiquette: What to Wear & How to Behave

The telephone rings early in the morning. It is your sister informing you that great Aunt Hortense has died. You liked Aunt Hortense; but what do you do now?

You are probably wondering, “What do I say?” and “What do I wear?” A few generations ago these questions would not have to be asked, because the rituals surrounding death and grief were rigid and straightforward. Today, with the advent of social media, a wide range of cultural and religious traditions, and the casualization of attire, it’s hard to know how to present yourself well while supporting the bereaved. 

In today’s guide, we’ll look at the key things you should do and say in a period of mourning to show your respect for the deceased.

Funeral Etiquette Video

History of Funeral Etiquette: How It Used To Be

Funeral back in the day
Funeral back in the day

Death goes hand in hand with life, but funeral rituals have changed radically over time. The Victorians, for example, rarely if ever talked about sex in polite company, even within the circle of those of their same gender. However, they talked about death incessantly and developed rigid customs concerning mourning.

If one’s spouse or parent died, one wore black for a full year and then for six months, “half mourning” which meant gray for men and mauve for women. These traditions carried on well into the twentieth century and for some cultures remain in place today. Presently, there are few carved-in-stone rituals, and people have questions about the etiquette surrounding death.

FDR with Mourning Band
FDR with Mourning Band

Gone are the days when a man would wear a black arm band for a six months after losing a parent, spouse or sibling. (Those arm bands though did serve a purpose. They said to the world, “be gentle; this man is grieving.”) However, in the months that follow a loss, one should never be in a hurry to “get back to normal.” The past normal no longer exists. A new normal without a loved one must be found.

Dark suits are obligatory for funerals
Dark suits are obligatory for funerals

Funeral Etiquette

Navigating death is an emotional challenge, and sticking to certain etiquette rules will help everyone feel respected, and ultimately a bit more comfortable during a difficult time. Here are the key etiquette points to abide by: 

  1. Write a Letter of Condolence
  2. Consider Flowers or a Donation
  3. Dress Appropriately
  4. Attend the Service
  5. Abide by the Cultural or Religious Traditions of the Family

See below for detail on the specific etiquette for each step. 

Write a Letter of Condolence

The very first thing that one must do when a death occurs is to acknowledge it. If you learn of the death of someone whom you knew or if you discover that a relative or close friend of a co-worker or friend has died, you at first sit down at your desk, take out paper and an envelope and write a letter of condolence. This is important especially if you are not planning to attend a funeral service or if there is no funeral service. Even if you attend a service, a letter is still a nice gesture. Note that an email, an online post, or a text message simply aren’t good enough; showing respect and sympathy requires more from you. A handwritten letter need not be long or witty, but a sincere message with a personal touch is best.

Condolence Letter from Prince Charles
A Simple Condolence Letter from Prince Charles

If you did not know the person well you can simply say something along the lines of, “I was deeply sorry to learn of the death of your aunt. Please accept my heartfelt sympathy. You and your family and are in my thoughts and prayers.” Just make sure to be genuine. If you are not religious, drop the prayers. These letters will serve as tangible reminders for the grieving that people care for them or cared for the person they are mourning.

Windsor Castle Mourning Stationary with black border
Windsor Castle Mourning Stationary with black border

Send Flowers or a Donation

You may want to acknowledge the death of someone in a more tangible manner than just a letter. In years gone by one sent flowers to the funeral home or a mourner’s house. The purpose of the flowers was quite practical. They offset the odor of death and the not-too-perfect embalming process. These days many people regard an overabundance of flowers as an excessive waste of money.

Tasteful Funeral Flowers on a Stand
Tasteful Funeral Flowers on a Stand

In the death notice or at the funeral home, the names of one or two favorite charities of the deceased are noted in case one would prefer to make a memorial donation rather than sending a spray of flowers. The choice is up to you if you want to make a charitable donation or not and it is up to you ultimately to which charity you would like to donate. The charity will inform the deceased family of the donation, or the funeral home will prepare a list of donors names and addresses. The amount of the gift is never mentioned, if you should make one.

Thatcher funeral
The Queen and Prince Phillip attend Margaret Thatcher’s funeral

What to Wear to a Funeral or Memorial Service

Without question, a funeral or memorial service calls for a suit. This is not the occasion to experiment with the dress code (unless the family has explicitly stated you should wear something else). Conveying sympathy and respect is your primary goal, and a simple dark suit is the best choice. Even if you don’t wear suits often, every man should have one dark suit on hand for occasions such as a funeral.

Single breasted suit
A simple single-breasted navy suit accessorized conservatively with a Prince of Wales check tie and a white linen pocket square
  1. A black suit is the first choice, but a navy suit or a charcoal gray suit (even a midnight-blue pin stripe in a pinch) are all acceptable
  2. Black leather cap toe oxfords, wholecuts, or wing tips
  3. Solid white shirt with French cuffs because it suits the formality of the event
  4. A conservative tie, such as solid black grenadine or an understated silk Prince of Wales check
  5. Accessorize with a simple white linen pocket square (which you can learn how to fold here) and dark over-the-calf socks
Dark Flannel Suit with Silk Tie & TV Fold Pocket Square
A Dark Flannel Suit with Silk Tie & TV Fold Pocket Square

What Not to Wear to a Funeral

As you can see, appropriate funeral attire is conservative and though formality is generally decreasing, we believe it’s always a good idea to dress up in situations that require respect and sympathy. Here are a few things to avoid with your attire:

  • DON’T wear anything in a bright or bold color unless the culture or dress code specifically stipulates such colors
  • DON’t wear casual garments such as jeans, chinos, polo shirts, t-shirts, etc.
  • DON’T skip the jacket; wearing just a tie is not enough
  • DON’T skip the tie; again, just wearing a jacket is not enough
  • DON’T over accessorize; your goal is to look appropriate and understated. Leave your jewelry at home, skip the lapel pin or flower, and
  • DON’T wear shoes with rubber or crepe soles, loafers, two-tone shoes, sneakers and sandals of any kind are all too casual
  • DON’T skip socks; likewise, don’t wear white or brightly colored socks

What is the Difference Between a Funeral and a Memorial Service?

People ask what is the difference between a “funeral” and a “memorial service.” The answer really lies in whether the deceased is present physically or just in memory. If there is a coffin and a burial following, it is a funeral service. If the burial has taken place or the body has been cremated (with or without an urn present), then it is a memorial service. On occasion, the family may opt for a private funeral service and burial and a public memorial service at a later time. Death notices in newspapers or online at funeral homes will indicate to you what type of service you are attending and where the service will be held.

Funeral Service at the Arlington Cemetery
Funeral Service at the Arlington Cemetery

The traditional funeral service is slowly becoming extinct. It is often replaced with a “celebration of a person’s life.” This is all part and parcel of our death-denying culture. As Ecclesiastes (it’s in the Bible) says, “there is a time to dance and a time to mourn.” A memorial service is not a time to dance. There may be smiles and slight laughs at a funeral as we remember the uniqueness of the person we are gathered to remember, but a Dean Martin-style roast it is not.

Wake or Visitation

A wake or a visitation is a social gathering, often held at the home of the deceased or the funeral home. Often, people who cannot attend the funeral will be able to go to the wake. The main goal of a visitation is to give the group of people who were friends with the deceased a chance to say goodbye in a social context. The same dark suit requirement is also appropriate for wakes, especially evening wakes. However, if the deceased was a member of the police force, firefighters brigade or a sports team at the time of passing, it is not uncommon for teammates or co-workers to wear their uniforms to indicate a sense of kinship and a recognition of the decedent’s life, values, spirit, and commitment.

Military Funeral
Military Funeral

FUNERAL OR MEMORIAL SERVICE ETIQUETTE

Funerals and memorial services are where the living interact to honor and mourn the dead. It is a time to pay extra attention to etiquette. Here are the main ways you can be respectful of your fellow mourners.

  • Attend the service if you were close to the deceased or their family; avoid going if your attendance will make the family uncomfortable
  • Arrive 10-20 minutes early for the service to allow time to acknowledge the family and find a seat
  • Sign the guestbook
  • If you are not part of the close family and friends, do not sit in the first few rows of seats
  • Turn your phone on silent and do not use it until you’ve departed the event entirely
  • When there is the opportunity to do so, express your sympathy and condolences in a simple way, such as “I’m so sorry for your loss. This must be a difficult time for you.” DO NOT use interaction at a funeral as a way to talk about your own grief or experiences

If you do attend a “celebration” at a location where liquor is served, go easy on it. This would be a time for a dignified response to a person’s life even if he or she was the life of the party. You dress and behave in exactly the same way you would at a traditional funeral. You express your sympathy to the family; you listen to the stories told about your late friend or relative, and then you depart.

Giving a Eulogy

President Obama delivers a eulogy at John McCain's funeral
President Obama delivers a eulogy at John McCain’s funeral

At many funerals today, a close family member or friend is commonly asked to deliver a eulogy. A eulogy is a heartfelt tribute to the one we are there to remember. It is not an opportunity to get one last word in about the deceased. It is not a comedy act. It also is not at all about the speaker. It is about the way the person who died impacted people’s lives. If you are asked to deliver a eulogy, this is your chance to speak about someone in a very dignified manner. Make sure to sit down and take your time when you write it. Find the right balance between grief, cherished memories, and funny occasions. The length should be two letter or DIN A4 pages in standard font size 12 to 14 font. Avoid any remarks about drinking or dating habits of the deceased and do not bring up anything else that could be perceived as embarrassing or disrespectful.

Religious Funeral Services

We cannot be assured any longer that the deceased was involved in any organized religion. If a minister is asked to officiate at the service, he or she is in charge and will ask (or should ask) the deceased loved ones for remembrances of the one who has died. Certain rites of the Church or other religious faiths will be observed. It is quite alright to ask before the service of the funeral director or officiating clergy what to do or expect during the service. Most people are quite open to discussing their religious traditions. Normally, however, all one has to do is to show up, express one’s sympathy to the family, sit down, and observe.

Orthodox Jewish funeral service
Orthodox Jewish funeral service

If you are attending a Jewish funeral service, it usually takes place in a Synagogue or funeral home one day after the death, but never happens on the Saturday Sabbath.   Men are required to wear a head covering known as a kippah or yarmulke.  If you do not own one, one will be provided for you as you enter the sanctuary. Married women are asked to wear headscarves at an Orthodox service. Gentlemen are encouraged to wear dark suits and ties.   The service is usually about the same duration as a Christian funeral. If you are able, you will be asked to travel to the graveside for the burial. The casket is lowered and, if you desire, you may join others in the act shoveling soil on the casket.  Do not feel obliged to do so.  Following the internment, most people will adjourn to a family member’s home and begin a seven-day observation called Shiva.  If you missed the funeral service, you might visit the family during this time.  Never send flowers to a Jewish funeral.  Usually, one makes a donation to a charity or plants a tree in Israel through the Jewish National Fund.

Islamic funeral
Muslim funeral

Muslims, like Jews, do not delay in having a funeral service.  The funeral service will take place in a Mosque.  You will be required to remove your shoes and deposit them in an appropriate location.  Therefore, make sure your socks are impeccably clean.  Women must wear scarves on their heads. Suits are always dark.  Most Muslim men will not be wearing neckties, but if you want to wear a tie, you may.  Muslims never embalm, and burial occurs within twenty-four hours of death.  A service often occurs after burial.

Buddhist Funeral
Buddhist Funeral

If you attend a Buddhist funeral, you should wear conservative attire.  You will notice that the mourners are wearing white, the traditional mourning color.  Do not wear red which is the color for joy and happiness.  It is mandatory that you remove your shoes at a Buddhist funeral.

Native American Traditions

Thanks to our reader Evan, here are some guidelines about Native American funerals. Before going to the fire circle, ask someone already in attendance if it is appropriate to enter at that time. Close family and friends may sometimes wish to be alone for hours at a time. Do not wear formal attire. A linen shirt tucked into black jeans is generally the upper limit of formality. When entering the circle, place a pinch of tobacco or whatever offering is provided into the fire. If water is provided, cleanse yourself. Always circle clockwise. Never attempt to tend the fire in any way. Trained tenders will be caring for the fire. When leaving the fire circle, always offer a pinch of tobacco or the alternate offering to the fire. The only interaction permissible with the fire is the offering. Additional offerings may be given, provided they are accompanied by a prayer, generally nonverbal. Always offer your seat to someone who was closer to the departed.

Thank you Notes

If you are in the position of having lost someone, you know how difficult those first few weeks are. Nevertheless, the words and actions of people who have expressed their sympathy to you must be acknowledged. As exhausted as you may be in the weeks that follow a funeral, you need to be spending your time writing letters of thanks to those who wrote you personal letters, sent flowers, or made memorial donations. This is one of the final kind things you can do for your loved one — acknowledging your gratitude to people who knew him or her and responded with a memorial. It is also about telling people that you appreciate their kindness during this trying time. The task of writing thank you letters can be divided up among family members who can write a personal note. In case you don’t know who will be writing, a simple, “on behalf of Hortense’s family, I thank you for your kind donation to St. Philip’s Church” or whatever charity will do.

If you received a letter of condolence, one simply writes something like, “Thank you for your words of sympathy. I gathered strength and encouragement from them.” Pre-printed sympathy cards to which a person just affixes his signature need not be answered, but a personal letter does.

Conclusion

There is an etiquette surrounding death and grief. To those who say that we do not need to do these things ‘nowadays,’ the reply should be: Has death stopped happening and do we no longer mourn? The traditional rites, choice of clothing, and condolences are ways of showing respect to the person who died and to remind us that he or she had a life worth remembering. Funerals are one of the reasons why every man must own one good dark-colored suit. You will be able to wear it on other occasions as well. They also are our ways of offering support to those who miss them the most. Of course, mourning and grief are very personal matters. In any case, Aunt Hortense would approve.


Gentleman’s Gazette

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Etiquette When Attending a Performance

An important aspect of a gentleman’s education and lifestyle has always been an appreciation for art and culture, which includes attending formal performances. An opera, ballet, or classical concert not only provides the opportunity to put on some classic tailoring but also the ability to immerse oneself in an atmosphere of refinement and good taste. To maintain this refinement, proper etiquette is essential. Here are some key tips for good behavior at the theater or concert hall.

Attending the NY Philharmonic at Lincoln Center

1. Dress for the Occasion

The first rule of attending a performance is to observe the dress code. The Glyndebourne Festival in England, for example, requires black tie to attend its summer operas, though, as a sign of the times, most places are exceedingly relaxed. Even the Wiener Musikverein, home of the Vienna Philharmonic, merely “recommend[s] elegant concert dress,” for their gala New Year’s Eve concert, a rather vague standard. Glyndebourne, too, has begun to loosening their requirement to encourage “creative black tie,” which seems to invite colorful dinner jackets with notch lapels or bolo neckties. At most events, you’ll see people wearing everything from jeans and t-shirts to suits.

Everything but “Streetwear” is allowed at concerts, according to the dress code established by Classical Vienna

However, Gentleman’s Gazette readers will surely want to embrace performances as a rare instance when dressing up would not be seen as overdressing. For an afternoon, a sport coat or suit, both with a tie, is a no brainer, but in the evening you could very well wear a tuxedo or dinner jacket and not shock anyone. Dressing well for a performance gives the occasion an added sense of worth. It’s still possible to overdress or dress incorrectly, such as wearing a tuxedo to a free lunchtime concert or white tie and tails at a Broadway play, but in most cases your fellow concertgoers will not be aware of any faux pas, only that you are “really dressed up.”

Madras Tuxedos
Madras Tuxedos: An example of “creative black tie”

2. Arrive on Time

Most tickets to performances will specify whether late arrivals will be seated at all, so showing up fashionably late will keep you out completely. But, even if you are allowed in, finding your seat is disruptive to others in your row and even the performers themselves in a small venue. The best approach is to treat the show as an important appointment, like catching a train, and arrive suitably in advance.

A vintage Vacheron _ Constantin pocket watch
Manage your schedule to arrive on time

3. Use the Cloakroom

If it’s cold out and you arrive wearing an overcoat, check it and any other cumbersome objects in the venue’s cloakroom rather than leaving them in the aisle or on your seat. Assuming you hang onto them, you’ll be left clutching a coat on your lap for a couple of hours at best, and at worst, your items will block the passage of others in your row or get stepped on. Therefore, checking your items is a matter of both politeness to others and of safety, because if there is any sort of emergency, coats and bags in the aisles will impede evacuation. Long story short, it’s better to shell out a few bucks to pay for the coat check. After all, you’ve already paid much more for tickets; why not also enjoy the evening fully without having to mind your goods the whole time?

Using the coat check is polite to others and comfortable for you

4. Say Hello to Your Neighbors

As people fill in on one or either side of you, nod, smile or say hello. There’s no need to take it further than that, but if the person next to you seems interested in talking, use the art of conversation to chat a bit before the performance starts. Perhaps you will continue to say a few words during intermission or after the show is over.

Being in an audience sometimes invites spontaneous conversation with strangers

5. Stand to Let Others Pass

Unless you are at the center of a row, odds are that others will arrive after you and will need to pass to get to their seats. Rather than turning your knees to the side, good etiquette dictates that you should rise to let others go by if you are physically able. Otherwise, if you remain sitting, you’ll likely have people’s rear ends or crotches right in front of your face, which is potentially embarrassing for all parties. If you are the one that needs to go by, “pardon me” or the equivalent is good form, though you can’t really insist that others rise for you.

6. Put Away Your Screens

The light and noise from a mobile phone represent rude distractions

This is one that we’re constantly reminded of; after all, if movie theaters inevitably announce prior to the start of a performance that cell phones should be turned off, it’s even more important to do so in a live venue where performers can be distracted or interrupted. Because there is no amplification at most stage plays or operas, cell phone notifications or ringtones are extremely disruptive. Imagine a phone ringing in the middle of a great line in Hamlet or during a quiet and moving passage of classical music. Don’t count on turning down the volume or putting the phone on vibrate, as this may not “take.” Play it safe and turn off your phone entirely. This will also keep you from the temptation of checking your email or social media in the middle of the performance as well, along with the accompanying bright shaft of light emanating from your device. Concentrate fully on what is happening on the stage, a rare few hours without technological distractions.

7. Remain Quiet and Still

In the past, prior to the mid- to late-19th century, performances of all sorts were less rigorous in terms of rules. Often, concerts were accompanied by dinners or parties in which the participants talked while an orchestra played or a vocalist sang. Theatrical performances at Shakespeare’s Globe or on the streets of medieval Europe were either part of a fair-like atmosphere that involved walking around, eating and talking back to the actors on stage. Only in the past 150 years or so have performances of classical content become more rigid, perhaps influenced by a Victorian sense of propriety that spread beyond the confines of Great Britain.

Performances several centuries ago were not as decorous as they are now. Painting: Spectacle Gratis, Avant Scene by Joseph-Louis Hippolyte Bellange

Nowadays, the expectation is for one to remain seated in a nearly unmoving posture, stirring only when there are gaps in the action or to applaud. Fidgeting and humming along to the music being played are definite no-nos though spontaneous laughter and other reactions are fair game when viewing stage plays. Toe-tapping to energetic musical passages is okay as long as it isn’t noticeable by your seatmates. The motive behind all this self-regulation is ensuring that you are not interfering with the enjoyment of others around you. If you are talking to your date throughout a show or constantly restless, those around you will be negatively affected. Thus, attending a performance is a situation where one exercises consideration for others rather than being selfish. This extends to behaviors like passing gas, crunching potato chips and public displays of affection while in your seat. While eating popcorn or nachos is fine at a movie with loud speakers, the relative quiet of a theater or symphony hall makes every crunch and crinkle obvious. Couples on a date who snuggle and put their heads together can block the sight-line of those in the seats behind them. Yes, it’s great to be in love, but either exercise restraint or get a room instead of tickets to a play.

PDAs at a movie are questionable and they’re even more so at a classical concert

8. Stop Coughing!

A word on coughing, a particularly infuriating disruption of silence: Anyone who has been to a classical concert knows that there will usual be multiple people coughing, usually during quiet moments, creating considerable annoyance for those who want to enjoy the music. Interestingly, a scientific study has shown that the average coughing bout of a person at a concert is the equivalent of coughing 36 times a day, which suggests it is not random but intentional; what’s more, it happens more often during slow, quiet movements when it causes the most irritation to artists and audience members alike. Though the exact cause is not known, evidence suggests that the cougher may be bored or uncomfortable with the amount of quiet restraint he or she needs to exercise; reaching a breaking point, he or she coughs to release tension. Whether this is intentional or subconscious, being aware of it should help anyone stop themselves unless they are truly sick with cough symptoms. In this case, taking a cough suppressant, using lozenges, or staying home are viable options. If the urge to cough persists, one should muffle it in a handkerchief or hold it in until louder moments in the performance or when there is a break.

Coughing at a classical concert
Coughing at performances is disruptive to the artists and the audience

9. Consider Keeping Young Children at Home

Quiet and still are two adjectives not often applied to young children, so be realistic about the ability of your child to remain in this state for a performance that runs for more than an hour without interruption. Though you may want to expose your little ones to high culture as early as possible, realize that below a certain age they may not be capable of the sort of decorum required to attend a show. Give them the exposure at home via video and treat live events as a parents’ night out until you know they are ready. However, you can try an outdoor performance in a more casual setting or attend special fun, interactive concerts for parents with children hosted by many orchestras.

A family concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London, England

10. When to Applaud

One of the scariest aspects of a classical concert for newbies is knowing exactly when to clap. Does one applaud at the end of an entire piece or between individual movements or arias? And how do you know when a piece has ended? Inevitably, at most concerts, you’ll encounter someone who begins clapping at the wrong time, but you don’t need to be “that guy.” The simplest solution is to wait a few seconds and let other people begin clapping first; then, follow their lead. However, if you want to know what they know, do a bit of studying. Read the playbill to see how many movements a piece has and which ones are slow (adagio) or fast (allegro). With some familiarity, you can predict fairly well when a piece is over. Besides this, look for cues from the conductor or performers. If they lower their arms or instruments, nod their heads slightly, or smile for the audience, it’s likely time to clap. You usually don’t want to clap between individual movements of a larger piece, though this isn’t a hard and fast rule. If something is sung or played particularly well, more than one person will certainly feel compelled to clap. Back during the 18th and 19th century, audiences actually applauded much more frequently at any sort of virtuosity displayed on stage. And, the artists ate it up as a sign of appreciation. Nowadays, we are, again, more restrained.

Standing ovation
A standing ovation at Carnegie Hall in New York

11. At the End of the Performance

When the entire performance is over, it is customary to show your appreciation for the efforts of the performers, which, hopefully, is well deserved. At the conclusion of a play, extended applause is usually in order. For musical events, standing ovations have become fairly common, especially if the performance was particularly memorable or enjoyable. More extroverted audience members will should “Bravo!” (for a male performer) and “Brava!” (for a female performer) when singers or musicians take their individual bows or “Bravi!” for the whole ensemble. Unfortunately, you may hear only “bravo” being shouted as the generic term, but with the mini Italian lesson above, you now know better. This show of energy by the audience is a sort of release after having sat still and silent for so long. Even conservative Brits will stomp their feet, whistle and shout with gusto. However, you can choose whether or not to yell based on your personality and level of enthusiasm for the show. On a final note, take your time in leaving. There’s no reason to rush toward the exits like many people do. Avoid stampeding and bask in the afterglow of a wonderful performance, departing at your leisure.

La Scala Opera House in Milan
Leaving La Scala in Milan

Conclusion

It used to be that the codes of etiquette and proper dress were an entree into high society and a bar against those who were uneducated in the behaviors required at a performance. These days, relaxed standards and accessible venues have enabled classical music and theater to reach more people then ever before. Yet, this doesn’t mean that anything goes. Being considerate of others and understanding the etiquette of attending a performance elevates the experience for everyone without diminishing your individual enjoyment.


Gentleman’s Gazette

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Etiquette: Fence Construction and Your Neighbors

Photo Source: Fence Pro

It can be a pain dealing with neighbors and property line issues. Whether it’s a fence, deck or other structure, people can get a little touchy when it comes to their property. Knowing this, we can avoid the awkwardness and potential miscommunication at the onset of any project if we stick to a few simple guidelines.

Respect all lot lines:

This is the most common hiccup between neighbors. It’s understandable that we want to be sure we are protecting our property. In a lot of cases, there are property bars installed that mark the perimeter of Ontario properties. Another source of clarification is lot drawings provided by either the city or builder. The important part of this stage is communicating with the affected neighbor. In my 20 years working in residential construction, the biggest asset in this respect is a willingness to communicate openly about the proposed project.

Follow local building bylaws:

Fence heights and specification allowances can
vary from city to city. As such, it’s imperative to know the local codes. If
these codes are breached, the project may be derailed because of a lack of
foresight. The only way it is legal to build outside of code is through a
variance application at your local city hall. If all attempts at fruitful communication
have failed, the Line Fences Act
works as a mechanism for dispute resolution.

Plan the work and work the plan:

Photo Source: Fence Pro

Planning the work to be carried out is vital to having a successful project. It also provides a tool to manage expectations in the building process. Often, your fence contractor can act as a bridge to successful communication because of their experience in the industry. Generally speaking, if people are kept in the loop, all goes well.

Let the neighbor choose:

If your project has the opportunity for a preferred aesthetic, it’s a good time to show your good faith by letting your neighbor make their choice first. This will encourage good feelings and also foster a feeling of inclusion. Let’s try and remember that we have to live beside each other and honey attracts more bees than vinegar does.

In the end, it’s all
about communication. If we stay open and authentic about our plans, we can
generally anticipate a pleasant outcome. In the unfortunate circumstance that
you cannot come to a mutually agreed upon plan of action, there is always the
legislation to refer to.

For more advice or answers to your deck building questions, contact Fence Pro at www.fencepro.ca 905.922.4776

The post Etiquette: Fence Construction and Your Neighbors appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

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Men’s Hat Etiquette Guide

Just as the gentleman should have a variety of hats for different seasons and occasions, he should also be aware of the rules for when to have his hat on and when to take it off.

Bowler Hats & Caps in 1920
Bowler Hats & Caps in 1920

A great many menswear sources, if they do offer advice on hat etiquette, will typically advise that the most basic rule to remember is to wear your hat when outdoors and to take it off indoors.

While this advice may end up working out for the wearer, let’s say 75-80% of the time, we believe that there’s a better central starting point for approaching hat etiquette which is as follows:

Pitti Peacocks by beforeeesunrise
Pitti Peacocks by beforeeesunrise

Wear Your Hat In Public & Take It Off In Private Spaces.

Stated simply, a private space is any place where people live, work, or pay a fee to enter. Anything else is generally going to be considered public. Here then are some more specific examples of this philosophy in practice.

Lobby of the St Regis Grand Hotel in Rome
Lobby of the St Regis Grand Hotel in Rome
  1. A house is a private space but the foyer or entryway just inside the door can be considered a public space. This goes back to the era when a butler would typically greet guests at the door and take their hats and coats. Similarly, an apartment is a private space but their surrounding hallways, as well as the lobby, are public.
  2. This same general rule is typically true for hotels with the added caveat that spaces reserved specifically for hotel guests such as the pool or lounge are also considered private spaces.
  3. One unique distinction for apartment buildings, hotels, and other such multi florid spaces, an elevator is considered a private space. This goes back to the days when most elevators still had human operators. As such, you would consider the elevator the operator’s office.
  4. Related to the concept of entry fees are membership dues. As such, any club with specific members is also considered to be a private space.
  5. Office buildings where the lobbies and hallways are are public spaces but specific offices are private spaces. In addition, cubicle areas are collectively treated as private, basically functioning as one large office. This isn’t limited to the specific space inside each individual cubicle.
  6. If a doctor’s office has a separate reception area, that’s considered a public space but the waiting room is considered a private space because you’re already waiting for the doctor’s services and in a manner of speaking, already in the office.
  7. Also in the medical field, a hospital building is treated as an all private space. This goes back to the days when most hospitals were still run by churches.
  8. A theater is a private space since you have to pay for a ticket to get in, however, since you have to buy the tickets in the lobby most of the time, the lobby is considered a public space.
  9. Despite usually requiring a ticket for entry, an outdoor stadium is still often considered a public space because it’s outdoors and fairly large. An indoor stadium, on the other hand, is a private space.
  10. A restaurant is a public space, in general, but once you’ve been seated at your table, it becomes a private space since, in theory, you’re paying to be there. Curiously enough, however, the bar is almost always considered a public space at all times.
  11. Stores are typically public spaces with the exception being if you’re given specific attention from a salesperson. Because you’re requiring their services at that point, the interaction then becomes more private at which point, it’s best practice to remove your hat.
  12. Places of worship are generally considered to be private spaces but of course, some religious traditions do have specific rules related to men’s headwear as well as women’s headwear. If you plan to attend a place of worship and don’t know the rules relating to headwear, be sure to ask someone in the know. Hats can also be removed at certain specific times for such activities like prayer, the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in the United States, or for the singing of hymns or national anthems.
  13. If you’re in motion, your hat should remain on regardless of the method or openness of transportation. This harkens back to the days when transportation was pretty much all done out of doors, either walking, on horseback, or in an open carriage. Even though we have many new methods of transportation and a lot of them are enclosed, the tradition of keeping your hat on while you’re moving still remains in effect.

And there you have it! Using this public space private space motto, the hatted gentleman can be sure that he’s always observing proper etiquette when wearing his hat or as the case may be, not wearing it.

The lounge at a private members club
The lounge at a private members club

Why Remove Hats In Private Spaces?

The answer is that the uncovering of the head is a sign of deference that goes back millennia. It’s usually done to signal an acknowledgment of intrusion or to show basic gratitude. In other words, the hallmarks of a gentleman.

Hat tip
Hat tip

The Practice Of Hat Tipping

The tradition of tipping one’s hat has its roots in bowing to show respect. A practice that was common across various cultures for centuries. When hats became the dominant fashion for men and bowing was still common practice, the hat would have to be removed when a man bent from the waist so that it didn’t hit the floor. Bowing would gradually become less extreme over the course of the 19th century, culminating in the simple hat tip by the 20th century. These days in the 21st century, even that practice can seem a little outdated.

If you’re a regular hat wearer and feel totally comfortable in headwear, you can give a hat tip to people regardless of gender these days too but if you feel that the behavior would seem affected coming from you, you can go ahead and skip the tip.

Straw Hats in 1958
Straw Hats in 1958

CONCLUSION

Even if you don’t commit to memory every single example we outlined in this guide, you can still be sure that by following the basic model of the public space-private space paradigm, you, as a hat-wearing gentleman, will be courteous with your stylish headwear.

Note: the majority of the information for today’s article was sourced from the writings of menswear historian Bill Thompson.

Which of the etiquette rules we covered today came as the biggest surprise to you?


Gentleman’s Gazette

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Rules of Civility: Business Etiquette At The Office

In a 2011 survey publish at the Monster.com blog, 71% of survey respondents found their coworker’s manners needing improvement or “downright rude.” More than one-quarter of respondents’ co-workers fell into this downright rude category. In this guide to business etiquette in the office, we will show you what your coworkers dislike, how you can improve your manners and you can approach coworkers about problems.

Do we save manners for our personal lives? And if we did, who can blame us? We have little choice at work with whom we work, to whom we report; how many hours we work; what to wear; where to eat; how long we may eat; and whether a company observes and complies with their own policies and procedures.

How Polite Are You & What Your Coworkers Hate The Most

How Polite Are You & What Your Coworkers Hate The Most

We spend more time with co-workers than we do our partners, spouses, family and friends. Permission to speak freely disappears at work. We often go along to get along, not wishing to antagonize an office or cubicle mate. At work, did French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre have it right? That hell is other people?

Bosses who don’t supervise but instead take hostages; the effluvium put forth by co-workers, whether the stale tang of the not-recently washed or a devotion to Axe body products; other co-workers grousing about the boss, their job, their kids, their body size, their love life, their lack of love life; the seemingly endless improvement programs promulgated by the herd of independent thinking reflected in upper management – decry all of it in the most florid, foulest and loudest terms possible and you will quickly find kindred spirits. Decry you might but at what cost to you? How much stress do we create for ourselves because of how we react to our co-workers?

How can etiquette matter in (American) work environments?

Etiquette at work now seems quaint, like a rotary telephone or manual typewriter. This quaintness may lead us to conclude that the decline of manners has befallen us (again!). But the protean nature of our existence – a relaxed, concerned behavior directed to loved ones and friends versus an uptight, sometimes seething personality at work, cannot hide this simple truth: How we do anything is how we do everything.

How we act at work influences how we act at home. A commitment to better relations at work will improve your love life. But how?

We can master ourselves, only. How we manage ourselves on the job can ensure greater self-confidence, a more relaxed attitude, and, indeed, even a promotion. We endeavor to create an aura of sociability and likeability. If we arrive to work late, we want to have others assume a favorable opinion about us despite the uncertainty of character our lateness suggests.

From the hell of our own co-workers, we may find that etiquette saves us. Whether you view manners as a mask or as a path to increasing enlightenment, acting with regard for others and ourselves will help to create a kinder and nicer office worker.

Business Etiquette Is All About Managing Oneself

Gossip is not appropriate

Gossip is not appropriate

1. Gossip

Gossip gets a bad rap, but gossip can keep us safe. A coworker may steal ideas or work or worse, haze new employees or harangue certain types of co-workers. Sharing these insights, if you think you can do so, can save another coworker from this bully’s actions.

The idle tittle-tattle, though? Proceed cautiously. Loose lips may sink your ship. Sharing facts about another coworker differs from whispered rumor. Both, however, may cause your boss to question you; but fact-based gossip possesses a kind of evenhandedness. Idle rumor seems like whining.

Always be respectful of other people's time

Always be respectful of other people’s time

2. Lateness

Timeliness suggests reliability. If you cannot arrive to work on time, what else can’t you do? We would all delight in a work-place where our co-workers accept all our failings. Better yet, they should make no assumptions about us when we do misstep. Something about pigs flying comes to mind here.

We control many variables in our lives. Timeliness tops the list.

Lateness also suggests you think your time more worthwhile than others. Lateness suggests a kind of time thievery. Perceptions of slackness and lack of attention to detail can also result from lateness.

Lateness practiced with diligence breeds resentment. When you find you legitimately need support from co-workers, less scrupulous co-workers may use the opportunity to expose you even further. Their long-standing resentment has now found an outlet. And thanks to your continued lateness, your boss may very well believe your co-worker. You’ve conditioned your boss to believe you aren’t reliable.

If you find yourself constantly late, determine why. Do you need to set your alarm 10 minutes earlier? Lay out your work clothes before retiring? Prepare your lunch after dinner?

Its important to take care of your nails

Its important to take care of your nails

3. Personal Grooming

Care about your appearance and bodily odors? Good. Your co-workers won’t notice your foul odor. They also won’t stare at the quarter-sized stain on your tie or shirt, either.

Personal grooming says I care enough about me to care about you. If you choose not to bathe, claims of snobbery don’t and won’t matter. Humans judge, constantly. And we judge harshly people who smell, have bad breath, open sores or bite /cut their fingernails at the office. Two men familiar to me refused the habit of regular bathing. Both lost lucrative job promotions to people who clearly had less skill.

Lorenzo Villoresi Colognes

Lorenzo Villoresi Colognes

Strong Colognes, Soaps, and Antiperspirants

We in the U.S. exhibit the doubly odd behavior of washing frequently only to swathe ourselves in a mixture of unnatural, “spring scent” body products.

As with liquor and clothing buy the very best cologne and bathing products you can afford. The better the ingredients, the better the smell. Cheap ingredients create smells that linger, cloy and in more extreme cases, cause eye-tearing and sneezing.

Consider spending more for these products and buy quality products

4. Generosity and Helpfulness

There exists a type of coworker who delights in making others, especially new co-workers, ask questions repeatedly; the kinds of questions that have you thinking, “why didn’t he tell me that when I asked the last question?” To which, if you were to ask, he would reply, “Because you did not ask.”

To be perceived as helpful, we must discern people’s foibles and anxieties and act in ways they find helpful. Have a boss that always forgets to create the agenda for the meeting? Send a reminder to her a week before the meeting. Is a coworker trying to finish up a big project before he leaves on vacation? Offer to take meeting minutes or make copies for the next meeting. After lunch meetings stick around to help clean up.

A willingness to help shows people no task is beneath you. Helpfulness becomes generosity when you offer assistance without another person asking.

5. Personal Disclosure

The Art of Conversation describes the function of small talk in American culture: We use it as a path to creating greater conversational intimacy. At work, however, our conversations rarely go beyond small talk, and with good reason.

Disclosing personal information at work puts us at risk with co-workers with less than noble characters. We cannot choose our co-workers. In our private lives, we choose our friends and life partners with care. Are they kind? Do they listen? Can they keep my confidence?

At work, whether or not your cubicle mate behaves kindly has no bearing on anything. You still must work with him, and work well, too, if you don’t want to hear from your boss. The long hours we spend at work tempt us to share of ourselves details we really ought to share only with significant others or close friends.

We are human. We crave connection and meaning from other humans. But the seemingly idle disclosure about the time you cheated at golf in high school, and even though you are now past 40, can explode in your face. Stories become twisted and misused. People want to behave correctly, but many people think very little of themselves, sadly, and so act accordingly.

Consider yourself lucky if you find a confidant at work. In the meantime, chat with co-workers, contribute to conversations and share of yourself information you feel comfortable sharing with anyone.

Save your humor for coworkers who will understand it for sure

Save your humor for coworkers who will understand it for sure

6. Humor

We can use humor to ease tense interactions, redirect criticism and avoid sounding defensive. We can also use humor to help co-workers to make light of an uncomfortable personal situation.

Sarcasm and irony, two cornerstones of American humor, can be easily misunderstood, even by speakers on of American English. Save that humor for like-minded co-workers. For everyone else, make jokes at your own expense and never make jokes at another’s expense for any reason, ever.

A messy desk

A messy desk

 

7. Messiness

You may live a minimalistic, neatnik life. Others may live maximally. If a coworker’s messiness impacts your job performance, say something. If you find the messiness offensive for aesthetic reasons, you have to address these feelings on your own.

If you can keep yourself organized, do so. We, in the U.S., tend to add a veneer of positive ethical behavior to people who keep their offices neat and tidy, regardless of the actual truth of that belief. As with personal grooming, neatness exudes order and morality. To the degree you can do this, others will think positively of you, too.

8. Patience

It seems we want endless patience from others yet struggle to extend such kindness to others. If we don’t like the person trying our patience, we lose our tempers more quickly. Losing our cool makes us look bad.

If you find yourself short of patience and want to have more of it, spend a week or two doing the following:

  1. Notice your triggers and what causes you to lose patience.
  2. Write down your triggers and determine patterns (time of day, behavior-specific, person-specific).
  3. Vow to change and accept that you may fail.
  4. Try again.
Be considerate of others when having lunch

Be considerate of others when having lunch

9. Eating

Food Smells and Eating at the Desk

According to a DailyMail study commissioned by a soup company, respondents ranked noisy eating as more bothersome than messy, habitually late or whiny co-workers. Sometimes people eat at their desk because they find no peace in the staff lunch room. Other times they do so because they may work for a company that really believes in working lunches.

Just don’t eat loudly.

Food smells also irritate co-workers. What we find tasty and nice smelling we know because of our cultural upbringing. Most Americans wax poetic about bacon; the Spanish feel similarly about olive oil. Microwaving fish in the staff kitchen can cause discord and set the gossip train to run.

Perhaps you can ask your boss to stagger your lunch break so that you won’t be around the offending smells. Or dive deep into yourself. Remind yourself we have no guarantees in life, least of all a life free of things we find stinky.

Consider going retro and actually take a lunch break. You know the one where you get up from your cubicle and leave the building? Might do wonders for both your nose and your stress!

10. Honesty

When might one lie at work reasonably? When does tact become inexpedient?

Some manners experts will tell you never to lie at work. Depending on your cultural context, you may have greater or lesser latitude to fib about people’s haircuts, clothes, family photos, cat videos and other questions you may be asked. In America, we lie constantly on the job. When asked by a coworker how we are, the social script dictates we answer positively. To answer negatively suggests we have a bad attitude. A certain amount of lying comes with working in America.

In more serious matters (financial improprieties, sexual harassment) honesty is probably the best course of action. Exposing a peer may seem easier than a superior. Having discussed such behaviors with the appropriate parties won’t always mean you win, though. Corporate ethics vary. If you work at an unethical company, you may need to polish your resume and seek employment elsewhere.

12. Friendships on the Job

Neither your superiors nor subordinates are your pals. Your boss can fire you, and you may have to fire people who report to you.
And peers, the ones you party with, may engage in unethical or illegal behavior that you will then need to report. They also may have seen you drunk and may use that information against you in the future.

Our relationships on the job remain economic ones. Money mediates all of them. Who can be hired, can be fired. By superior, subordinate or peer.

Romance at the Office - Don't Do It

Romance at the Office – Don’t Do It

13. Intimate Relationships with Co-Workers

Don’t do it. With a superior or subordinate, never. With a peer, what happens if he gets promoted over you and you break up? What if she decides to spread rumors about you to your co-workers, or worse, future employer? Unless you sell your body for a living, sex and work don’t mingle. Just ask those secret service agents about sex and work.

Approaching Co-workers About Problems (a Simple How-to Guide Based on the Principles of Non-violent Communication)

Sometimes we may need to have a difficult conversation with a coworker. We need not suffer in silence. Approach a coworker first to resolve a conflict, before going to your boss. Doing so will show that you have attempted to resolve the problem as professionally as possible.

Ask Yourself Why

As it pertains to other’s behavior, ask yourself why their behavior annoys you. Why, for example, does your co-worker’s messiness irritate you? If you judge her as a slob, then you have little room to discuss changing behaviors because you attack her.

If, however, her disorganization enrages you because it makes you late to meetings or causes you to miss important work deadlines, then you can ask her if she can change her behavior. You have a factual reason for wanting her to modify her behavior.

There are better ways to solve problems at the office - Don't imitate Mad Men

There are better ways to solve problems at the office – Don’t imitate Mad Men

The Mechanics of the Conversation

a. Make Factual Observations

Make factual observations that make you feel a need to speak now. (“Jane, our meeting is in ten minutes and we were supposed to have the agenda to Bob day before yesterday.”) You don’t make an evaluative statement (“That is way too late to get me these agenda items.”)

We value things differently (Jane may have higher priority projects on her list, or she doesn’t report to Bob) but by sharing your observations, you can find common ground with Jane.

b. State How the Observation Makes You Feel

“When you give me the agenda items ten minutes before the meeting and Bob wants them two days ago, I feel anxious. I’m afraid I’ll get in trouble, and I’m afraid my co-workers will think poorly of me.”

c. What Need is Not Being Met

We all have needs on the job, many in fact. For the purposes of this script, needs are always valid. In this particular scenario, you have a need to be seen as considerate and competent
(“I have a need for consideration and competence.”)

d. Ask a Request (Not Make a Request)

“Would you be willing to give me the agenda items a week before the meeting?” To make a genuine request, and not a demand, you must allow Jane to say no. If she does, then you might ask when she can get you those agenda items. If she replies ten minutes before the meeting, and you find you cannot tolerate such behavior, quietly approach Bob and inform him of your communication with Jane. He may decide to approach Jane or her boss (if she reports to someone else) or tell you it isn’t a problem or tell you tough, deal with it. At least you’ve asked respectfully.

Etiquette on the job can help us have better working relationships.

How have you handled difficult co-workers? What behavior at the office bothers you the most? Please reply in the comments below!


Gentleman’s Gazette

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