Social Cues in COVID Era

Bloomberg Businessweek July 27th 2020 pp60-61 Living | “The Rules of Cov-Etiquette” “Good manners aren’t dead, despite the pandemic. We asked a few experts how to navigate the new pain points in human contact.” By Claire Ballentine

As restrictions are being loosened in certain settings “as people take vacations, back-to-school plans form and restaurants reopen” how does one protect themselves from COVID-19 and still maintain the social graces? Unlike most social change, COVID-19 pandemic has created a rapid shift in norms below are suggestions from some Etiquette mavens.

When greeting others…rather than a handshake offer “phrases that a warm embrace would otherwise convey” says Jodi Smith (Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting). “I would love to shake your hand but we’re going to have to wait until 2021.”

What if someone goes in for a hug?...”staying 6 feet apart…’that’s a long way for someone to lunge at you’” (David Coggins author of ‘Men and Manners’). Instead clasps your hands in front of you and offer a bow or a nod.

Should I attend a social event? How do I say no? … “I’m practicing social distancing, but I’d love to come. Can you tell me more about your plan for the party?” (Jacqueline Whitmore Protocol School of Palm Beach). Rather than a simple no offer “I’m looking forward to seeing you in the near future” (Diane Gottsman Protocol School of San Antonio).

Other tips are offered.

If staying over-ask for details about accommodations, meals, other visitors etc.

Tip those helping you, from wait-staff, delivery workers to stylists, to the point of pain. $25 Pizza a “$10 or even $15 would be an appropriate gesture.” As the rest-of-the-world you encounter may not be as informed or share your level of concern, control what you can-your distance and your own mask. For the recalcitrant play to a 3rd party requirement “I think we’re supposed to be wearing masks in here.” If necessary “Walk Away.”

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