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Crumbs! Brits’ Entertaining Skills are Dunkin’ Disorderly

Once it was an integral part of the British psyche, but new research reveals that Britain’s once famed hospitality has taken a nose-dive in recent years, with the younger generation in particular failing to observe basic etiquette when it comes to entertaining.

Fox’s biscuits – who carried out the study – have identified the following manners as missing in tea time action:

1)    Turning off the TV: Almost half of Brits (45%) don’t bother to turn off the TV when visitors arrive, and the younger the host, the less likely they are to do so. Only a third of 25-34 year olds (33%) switch off their favourite shows, compared to the majority of the over 55s

2)    Twitter chatter: Four out of five under 25s (78%) tweet at the table, or carry on surfing the net from their phones or PCs when their friends come round to visit

3)    Taking the coats: the tradition of taking guests’ coats and putting them on the bed or stashing them out of sight is dying out. While more than 80% of the over 55s take their guests’ coats on arrival, this drops to just over 50% of the under 35s, who prefer to leave their visitors to sweat it out on the sofa.

4)    Tea time treats: Whilst most of us manage to rustle up a mug of tea or coffee, tummies in Britain’s homes are frequently left rumbling, with almost half of Brits failing to offer their guests so much as a biscuit, despite this being identified as one of the best ways to make visitors feel at home

5)    Bring out the best china: Only 8% of under 35s bring out the best china, compared to a third of the over 65s (31%)

Instead, in true Hyacinth Bucket style, Brits today are more interested in keeping up appearances than being polite, with houseproud hosts focusing most of their time and energy on making their homes (84%) or themselves (71%) look good in advance of a visit, rather than making their guests feel welcome.

The research also identified the top tea-time crimes that an inhospitable host can commit. These are:

  1. Having a row with your partner in front of your guests (70%)
  2. Making your guests feel like they’re in the way (69%)
  3. Continuing to read or watch TV once your guests have arrived (60%)
  4. Letting your kids run riot or behave badly (53%)
  5. Nodding off while guests are still there (52%)
  6. Not offering your guest something to drink (37%)
  7. Having badly behaved pets (29%)
  8. Giving guests something horrible to eat or drink (26%)

Guests beware however, as there a few things you shouldn’t do if you want to be invited back, and the most annoying are:

  1. Running your fingers over surfaces to check for dust (64%)
  2. Criticising your host’s house in any way (58%)
  3. Leaving without saying thanks (54%)
  4. Making a mess (38%)
  5. Being fussy or difficult about the food or drink on offer (33%)
  6. Turning up late or early (27%)
  7. Asking your host to remove pets from the room (25%)
  8. If they insist on trying to help with cooking or clearing (15%)

Rachel Moffatt, Brands Sector Director for Fox’s, says: “We were disappointed to discover that tea time etiquette seems to be dying out amongst younger generations. Our survey respondents were unanimous that attentiveness and great conversation are the key to good entertaining, yet so many young adults fail to give guests their undivided attention when they drop by, despite this being one of our biggest gripes when we’re on the receiving end.

As for not feeding guests, for a nation that’s practically been built on tea and biscuits, it surprised us to learn that giving guests something to snack on, however small, isn’t always on the menu. We hope this is one tradition that doesn’t die out completely.”

International manners and etiquette consultant William Hanson [tutor at The English Manner], says “Manners and etiquette have always been at the core of what makes us proud to be British. Offering a biscuit with a cup of tea, turning off the TV when your guests arrive, and taking someone’s coat on arrival are all basic British manners. It is truly a sad day when these everyday etiquette essentials are ignored, and guests are left feeling unwanted and neglected.”

Re-printed from the press release with kind permission from Clarion Communications.

Blackberries: Don’t be a Gooseberry

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You can hardly go anywhere without seeing something to do with a BlackBerry (which, for the uninitiated, is the king of all Personal Digital Assistants). People up and down the country simply must have one – a new status symbol? These often-tiny little things have the ability to send and receive emails, text messages, telephone calls, as well as update our Twitter and Facebook pages. Our whole world can be condensed into something no heavier than 88 grams.

Yet whilst these devices can be a blessing in certain situations, it’s vital that we don’t forget our manners. We can sometimes get so focused on who we’re communicating with digitally through our PDAs, we forget those slightly nearer to us.

The usual rules of mobile telephone etiquette apply with BlackBerries but there are perhaps a few more rules to add for these demi-gods.

When you have a face-to-face meeting, whether it be with one person or a whole group, turn your device to vibrate: don’t have it sitting on the normal (loud) setting so that it pings, flashes and shakes every time you get an email or text. People often think that it’s a popularity contest. It’s not. Focus on who is in front of you in real life.

Never place your BlackBerry on any surface during a meeting or lunch appointment, even if it’s turned to silent. The BlackBerry has a data light, which will flash every time data is being transferred. This can be very off-putting to others and you will no doubt be distracted too. Out of sight is out of mind.

After a day’s work, don’t go back home to your family or friends and sit constantly on your device, unless it’s vital. We have to switch off sometimes and it can make loved ones feel devalued if your conversation dries up with them but seems to flourish on your BlackBerry.

BlackBerries can be wonderful sources of communication and entertainment but whilst we may revel in their multiple features, others probably won’t. Take care to think about others before using your device. Of course, if there’s no one around…

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner


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