I have a real thing about etiquette. I have my own personal rules on etiquette which I hoped I have passed on to our kids. I have found that etiquette is something that is seriously lacking these days. Not sure why. At the end of the day etiquette equals proper manners.
In this day and age, it is beyond easy to shoot someone an email thanking them for anything. A hand written note is generally over the call of duty in todays world but for some things, it is essential and an added bonus. Anyone who has proper etiquette in my book, soars to the top of the list. People who should have acknowledged something and didn't with a short note can change my perspective on them. I have a few friends who are in my etiquette hall of fame. They always write a hand written note and go beyond the call of duty. Most of those people also happen to be in the non-profit world (but not all of them) where etiquette is the key to relationships.
For what it is worth, here are my rules.
Always send an email after having dinner at someones home thanking them the next day.
If someone gives you a gift out of the blue for favors you have done for them, send them an email thanking them
If someone gives you a birthday gift at a huge party (Xmas bash or cocktail party) and it is among a huge pile of stuff – not necessary to send a note. Also not necessary when someone comes to your house with a gift for a party you are giving to send a note.
Not necessary to send a note to family members who gives gifts. A big hug, kiss and a phone call is ample.
If someone meets you for coffee, lunch, dinner or whatever to give you advice it is essential to sent an email the next day thanking them. If it was larger than life advice – sometimes a small gift is nice to send too.
Big events like 50/40/30 year old bdays or Bar/Bat Mitzvahs or small bday parties (like kids) should always send handwritten notes thanking people for their gift. These notes should be timely too. When Jess and Em got BM'd, I'd have them write out a note the day that got the gift so it didn't pile up or they would have ended up having 50 to send out which is overwhelming. Also, that way it actually resonated with them what each person gave them. After the event, the other gifts were sent cards within 1 week.
If you went to a party and didn't bring anything, it is nice to send something with in a week or so to acknowledge the event.
Baby gifts should happen quickly.
Weddings must send out hand written thank you notes.
I have noticed that kids who have birthday parties (the 5-13 year old crowd) have started to make copies of a computer generated card or a mass email saying thanks. Not appropriate. Get your kid to sit down and hand write out a thank you note to everyone that is personalized about the gift. Never too early to learn how to say thank you.
You have a year to get someone a wedding gift which I have done on occassion but try not to.
If you want to meet with someone, like a donor to a non-profit or a supporter of something you are doing or just a meet and greet and get advice – let the person you are meeting with choose the spot and location. Don't get them to fit it into what is most convenient for you. That is a huge no no and frankly just pisses me off.
Kids should be taught from the time they can walk and talk to shake someones hand, look them in the eye and say hello, nice to meet you, I am so and so. I used to line my kids up and make sure they learned how to have a strong handshake and make eye contact.
Fred has meetings with people all the time that he has met through an introduction or got on his calendar by the luck of the draw and never send a note thanking him for his time. I have also had meetings with people who never sent a note saying thanks for meeting with me. Makes me really never want to meet with them again.
Proper etiquette is something that should be part of our education system. Although I am rarely amazed at anything these days, I shouldn't be so blown away when someone has proper etiquette. I remember them and they surge to the top of my list. I also remember the people who don't take the time out to say thank you or want to meet with me but on their terms. In a world where everyone is connected, in my book, proper etiquette goes a long way.