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According to the Chapter III “Greetings” from Emily Post’s Etiquette In Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home, the correct formal greeting in terms of etiquette is “How do you do?” For example, of Mrs. Jones is being presented to Mrs. Wilde, Mrs. Jones should say “How do you do?” to show respect for the person she is being presented to. However, this form of greeting can be changed according to the circumstances. For example, if Mrs. Jones heard of Mrs. Wilde from her friends, neighbors or relatives when greeting Mrs. Wilde, Mrs. Jones should say, “I am very glad to meet you” or “It is a delight to meet you at last”. It is also advised not to use the expression “pleased to meet you” at any occasion when greeting somebody. Moreover, a person should not say that he or she is delighted to meet somebody unless there is definite certainty that the person you are meeting is also delighted (Post 18).
Etiquette Rules on Greetings
The above are the examples of formal greetings. Informal greetings are just as limited as formal, although there may be some slight deviations from the standards. For example, apart from saying “How do you do?” one may also say “Good morning” or “Good evening” with an occasional “How are you?” The greeting “Hello” is only acceptable on very informal occasions to greet a friend. Nevertheless, “Hello” should be used in a calm manner and never used except good friends who call each other by name. It is not acceptable to greet someone in the church, unless at a wedding where a person is able to speak to the friends or relatives that seat near them.
If to talk about the handshakes while greeting a stranger, they can often cause irritation, attraction or liking between two people. For example, it is quite impossible to like a boneless handshake or an angry and violent one. A proper handshake is usually short, although slight strength should be felt. The same way as with bowing, one should look in the eye of the person whose hand he takes. When shaking hands with a foreigner, a married woman always relaxes her hand so that the gentleman can lift her hand and lightly kiss it. When shaking hands with the older, young women can clasp hands while giving them a slight movement before simply letting go (Post 21).
In my opinion, the rules given in the Chapter III “Greetings” can be applicable only to the business environment; however, modern business ethics are much looser than they used to be in the 1920’s. On the other hand, an elderly person might be educated by the same rules laid out in the chapter, thus following them when greeting the elderly will be considered a sign of respect and politeness.
To conclude, the rules of etiquette related to greetings are useful for general knowledge and can be used loosely, especially when it comes to greetings in our day-to-day life. If a person is to follow these rules strictly, he or she may be considered old-fashioned or even pretentious in some separate cases. Nowadays, greeting somebody can be acceptable in many variations; thus, if a person is polite and courteous when greeting someone for the first time or not, the answer to the greeting will also be polite.
Post, Emily. Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home, New York, NY: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1923. Print.