25 Things That Were Considered Polite 50 Years Ago

Politeness has evolved over the decades. However, some acts of courtesy from 50 years ago still resonate today as hallmarks of a well-mannered society. Remember when offering your seat to someone wasn’t a debate but a common practice? This trip down memory lane isn’t just about nostalgia; it’s about recognizing the charm and class of past courtesies that might inspire a more gracious future. Let’s dive into the 25 acts of politeness that once defined everyday interactions.

Answering the Phone with Enthusiasm

Five decades ago, greeting someone on the phone with a cheerful “Good morning!” or “Hello, this is Joe; how can I help you?” wasn’t just polite; it was expected. Nowadays, a simple “Yeah?” has taken over, but think of the warmth a little enthusiasm could bring back into our daily calls. Oh, and always asking if it’s a good time to talk—courtesy gold!

RSVPing On Time

Sending a timely response to an invitation was considered a sign of respect for the host’s planning efforts. Fast forward to today, and last-minute replies—or worse, ghosting—have become the norm. A little promptness could surely add a spark of commitment to our social interactions. Seriously, wouldn’t it be great if RSVPs made a strong comeback?

Writing Thank-You Notes

The art of penning a heartfelt thank-you note seems almost lost. Back then, it was a thoughtful way to express gratitude, not just for gifts but for gestures, dinners, or a pleasant evening. Who wouldn’t love a comeback of this personal touch? Receiving a handwritten note in today’s digital world must feel like a warm hug through paper.

Men Offering Their Seat

It was common for men to stand and offer their seats to women or the elderly in public transport. This gesture might raise eyebrows today in some circles for its gender-specific nature, but it stemmed from a deep-seated respect for comfort and consideration. It wouldn’t hurt to see more of this, right?

Punctuality Was Everything

Being on time was not just about being punctual; it was a deep-seated sign of respect for someone else’s time. With today’s casual time frames, bringing back a strict adherence to punctuality could undoubtedly shake things up. If everyone actually arrived on time, that would be revolutionary!

Respecting Privacy on the Phone

People used to step away to take phone calls to avoid being rude by broadcasting their conversations. Today, speakerphone in public has become an all-too-common breach of public peace. Maybe a little privacy isn’t such a bad idea. How about we bring back the hushed tones and private talks?

Dressing Up for Flights

Air travel was once an occasion worthy of dressing well. These days, pajamas and flip-flops seem to have taken over. Wouldn’t it be something to bring a bit of that old-school glam back to the skies? Flying could feel special again.

Addressing Others Respectfully

Using “Mr.,” “Mrs.,” or “Miss” to address others was standard and showed immediate respect. While it’s great that we’ve become more informal, sometimes formalities can add a dignified air to interactions. Time to polish up those Mr. and Mrs. titles?

Offering to Help With Coats

Assisting someone with their coat might sound dated, but it was a simple act of chivalry that could make anyone feel a bit more looked after. We’re not throwing this one out with the old winter wardrobe! Who knows, it might just warm up more than just shoulders.

Knocking Before Entering

Privacy was paramount, and knocking before entering a room was a common courtesy. It’s a small gesture that says a lot about respecting personal space, which is timeless, don’t you think? Let’s knock it back into common practice. Not to mention, it avoids those awkward moments when you walk in on a conversation not meant for your ears.

Avoiding Elbows on the Table

This table manner was strictly enforced. While it’s seen as less critical today, something must be said for maintaining a poised posture at the dinner table. Perhaps it’s time to elbow our way back to this classic rule. Plus, it could improve our overall dining etiquette, making meals more graceful events.

Walking on the Streetside of the Sidewalk

Men walking on the streetside of the sidewalk to protect their companions from puddles or passing vehicles were considered chivalrous. This protective gesture has a quaint charm that might still be appreciated by some. It’s just plain nice, isn’t it? It’s a simple act, but it shows a thoughtful consideration for others’ comfort.

Giving Up Your Seat on the Bus

Much like offering your seat on other forms of transport, this was a common expectation regardless of age or gender. Bringing this back could make public transport a kinder experience for everyone. Plus, it’s just a nice thing to do! Simple acts of kindness like this can truly brighten someone’s day.

Hosting Elaborate Dinner Parties

Hosting wasn’t just about throwing together a last-minute gathering; it involved planning, preparation, and a touch of finesse. It may be time for a revival of the elaborate dinner party. Get those dinner plates and conversation topics ready! Imagine the stories that could be shared around a meticulously set table.

Paying Attention When Someone Is Speaking

Not interrupting and giving someone your undivided attention during a conversation was a sign of respect. This seems like a refreshing change to re-adopt in our age of constant distractions. Imagine the depth of conversations we could have if we truly listened to each other—without the constant pings of our devices.

Using Formal Titles in Correspondence:

Writing letters with formal titles like “Dear Mr. Smith” was polite and set a respectful tone for the entire correspondence. Today’s quick texts and emails often skip the niceties. Reintroducing this formality could add a layer of respect to our digital communications—because a little formality can go a long way, and it shows professionalism and respect.

Holding Doors Open for Others

Holding the door open for someone following behind you or entering a building was a fundamental act of politeness that expressed consideration and respect. It’s a simple gesture, but one that says, “I see you and your needs.” This small act of kindness is always in style, and honestly, it just makes everyone’s day a little brighter.

Offering Your Arm to the Elderly or Partners

Offering an arm to help someone navigate stairs or a tricky path was a sign of attentiveness and care. This supportive gesture is rarely seen today but could revive a sense of protection and camaraderie that many might still appreciate. It’s a small way to offer support and ensure safety.

Addressing People by Their Last Names

It was once customary to address people by their last names. This practice established a boundary of respect and formality that has since waned in many social settings. It may be time to bring back a bit of that formal distance. It can add a level of professionalism to everyday interactions.

Asking for Permission Before Smoking

Asking if anyone minded before lighting up a cigarette was a common courtesy, reflecting a respect for personal space and health. In today’s context, this could extend to vaping or other habits that might affect those around us. It’s about being considerate of others’ comfort and well-being.

Waiting for Everyone to Be Served Before Eating

At meal times, waiting until everyone had been served before starting to eat was considered polite. This practice not only shows patience but also respect for the group’s dining experience. Could reintroducing this practice make our meals more communal and enjoyable?

Children Referring to Adults by Title

Children were taught to refer to adults as “Mr.” or “Mrs.” to show respect. This formality has loosened, but teaching it could reinforce lessons in respect and the importance of acknowledging authority from a young age. It’s a gesture that helps build a foundation of respect among younger generations.

Proper Table Setting for Meals

Knowing how to properly set a table, from the placement of the knife and fork to the arrangement of the glasses, was once critical. This knowledge might seem outdated, but it can transform an ordinary meal into a special occasion. It shows care and effort, elevating the dining experience.

Waiting to Be Introduced at Social Events

Waiting for an introduction rather than promoting oneself at social gatherings was a sign of good breeding. This could prevent awkwardness and show a respectful acknowledgment of social protocols. It’s a way to show that you value decorum and are considerate of social structures.

Leaving a Tip for Service Workers

While tipping remains a norm, the act of discretely leaving a tip without flaunting it was a sign of humble generosity. Today, re-emphasizing the discreet aspect of tipping could restore a sense of modesty and respect for service workers. It’s not just about the money; it’s about showing appreciation quietly and respectfully.

Like it? Share it!

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge