Saturday, March 5, 2016

A Secret to Refinement

Lack of repose of manner -- that is a key to so much that is amiss in decorum among us.
Rev. C.W. De L. Nichols, Correct Social Usage

While reading a book defining correct social behavior from my great-grandmother's day (1906), I came upon a small section addressing "repose of manner."  The phrase seems quaint in our modern vernacular, yet it beautifully describes the essence of refinement lost to many in our twenty-first century.

What is repose of manner?   It is a calm dignity in the way a person conducts herself.  Here are four specific ways to develop repose of manner:

  1. Slow down.  Hurry and refinement do not go together.  Rushing is inconsistent with the calm, measured actions of a reposed manner.  Slowing down allows you to speak and act thoughtfully, and makes your presence soothing to others.
  2. Develop savoir faire.  Know what to do and say.  This is accomplished by study and observation.  Search out books and articles on etiquette and feminine charm.  Read the biographies of true ladies and gentlemen.  Learn from previous generations who knew more about gentility.  Knowing the proper thing to do and say gives confidence to act with calm dignity.
  3. Be Unflappable.  Retain your composure in upsetting circumstances.  Respond to rudeness with finesse.  Keep a sense of humor when things go haywire.  
  4. Maintain a degree of personal mystique.  Repose of manner requires more reserve than is demonstrated by the average woman in our society.  Nothing is refined about giving out too much personal information. Practice quiet restraint by listening and observing more than speaking.  Keep a discerning sense of privacy.

Principle:  A lady demonstrates repose of manner.

Photo: by Regina Relang, Paris 1950s