Etiquette: Rising From One's Seat At A Table For A Lady.....

Yesterday morning I hosted a “Going Away” breakfast for one of the nurses I had worked with at my hospital for many years.

We decided to meet at a little restaurant near the hospital, and I got there first.

The others who arrived were all ladies and so when they entered, I rose from my chair as I had been taught to do by my military father who always insisted on decorum. When I did, my sweater hung on the tablecloth and knocked over the glass of water I was drinking while waiting, and it spread across the whole table. I was very embarrassed, and it got me to thinking: Do guys still do this, and what are the rules of etiquette regarding this practice nowadays?



Only the very polite ones. Good for you!

I was going to say “the charming ones.”

And we appreciate it.

You are not alone, I do too. I’m not sure what the “rules of etiquette” are nowadays other than there do not appear to be any, but if I am waiting for guests in public I get my arse off the chair on their arrival whether they are men or women unless they are my close friends. And unless they are real late…

If its a casual thing, they what they get may only be a quick bob up and down again. I think it shows you know what you are doing plus a bit of appreciation that they have joined you - hence lack of appreciation for not bothering to arrive even roughly on time.

Stick with it, man!

Not sure about the etiquette of jumpers at table though, sounds dodgy to me… :wink:

I do it, too.
But I skip that water stunt…

Yes. Anytime a lady a lady enters the room or approches the table a gentleman stands. Exceptions are booths. And if the lady doesn’t sit down within a few minutes or tell you to sit down then she is demoted to woman and standing is no longer necessary.

And people who have moved out of the dark ages recognize that referring to a woman as a woman does not constitute a demotion, but a perfectly reasonable and logical mode of address.

What was the original, practical reason for this practice (standing when a lady comes in)? To help her with her chair? To offer her your chair?

I do.

And here’s some more text to get past the strange new 10 character minimum.

Probably to help her off with her coat. (Cloak?)

The thought has occured to me, but I think standing would embarass most women I know. I think it’s more important not to embarass one’s companions than engage in a meaningless old-fashioned gesture.

I might consider standing if I wasn’t sitting behind a table or desk and someone (particularly an older person) who I didn’t know very well entered the room–but only to move towards and greet him or her.

yeah that’s a pretty nice gesture…

for a dork!

Yes, I do it generally. Some situations prevent it or make it awkward. If the situation allows, I do it for men entering the situation, as well.

Quasimodem, you did everything right. Some women may not appreciate this gesture, or look at you strangely; but all ladies will know immediately what you are doing and why, and they will appreciate your good manners.

It’s been my observation that most men don’t do this nowadays, and I don’t know why. It makes absolutely no sense to me, because they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Maybe their fathers didn’t teach them; maybe no woman inspires them to want to behave this way; maybe they just don’t care. Who knows. My observations are limited, since this behavior tends to vary by region. Generally, one will see more chivalry (apologies, I know not what else to call it) in rural Alabama than on a street in Manhattan.

Jervoise,, I understand where you’re coming from, but I often find myself in the opposite situation. In social settings, I become terribly embarrassed when a man does not stand or when he offers his hand to me; and I still don’t know whether I’m embarrassed for myself (that I expect such treatment in our coarse world) or for him (that he honestly doesn’t know what to do). I’ve gotten used to it, but in my case that “meaningless old-fashioned gesture” would save me a great deal of embarrassment.

Hail Ants, there really isn’t a sensible reason for it. It’s a holdover from the days when women had a higher social standing than men. We still have these rules today, but they’ve migrated into the safer realm of “business etiquette,” i.e. wait for your boss to extend his or her hand first, don’t use first names unless the person of higher rank initiates it, etc. etc.

People tend to like this system better than the old way because it’s very fair. In the workplace, the person of higher rank can be male or female, and (usually) they’ve earned their rank in the organization through hard work. However, in social settings, the woman is (was?) ideally always given higher status and treated accordingly, regardless of how she behaves or whether she is worthy of such treatment.

Chalk it up to regional and generational differences, I guess. Standing for women isn’t customary in my culture (Australia) and age group (20-35).

Similarly, I can barely imagine not using someone’s first name–I haven’t addressed someone as “Mr” or “Ms” since I finished high school; addressing someone as “Sir” or “Ma’am” would be interpreted as mocking them. Despite differences in age or position, all adults–in my culture–are treated with roughly the same level of esteem.


If you think that the days of such so-called “chivalrous” and “gentlemanly” behaviour constituted a time when women had higher social standing than men, may i suggest that you get yourself to a library and pick up a few history books.

Don’t worry, Quasi, you did the right thing. You were obviously raised well, and if you have any children please keep the tradition going.

It’s nice to know that there are still some people who do not appear to have been raised by hyenas.

Then consider me unreasonable for prefering to act like a gentleman instead of being just a man.

It’s kind of difficult to answer the question, because really I believe that there is no such thing as a lady or a gentlemen. These are obsolete, condescending, insulting concepts and I never model my behaviour based on them. They are based on the assumption that women are inferior to men – physically, intellectually and emotionally – and thus deserve special consideration, like children do.

We are all people, period. Some of us are men and some of us are women. Some of us are stronger, some of us are weaker. Some of us require special treatment because of our physical circumstances, some of us don’t. None of these categories are intrinsically related to each other.

Whatever I am willing to do for a woman, I am willing to do for a man. When I pass through a door, I hold it open for whoever is behind me, regardless of whether they are men or women. When I am introduced to people, if I offer my hand to the men, I also offer my hand to the women. We are all human beings, we are all of equal dignity, and we all deserve equal consideration.

Riding the train, if I am sitting, I remain seated. If there are others standing and they are all of good health, then I keep my seat. It’s first-come, first-serve and I am just as needing of and deserving of comfort as anyone else. However, if there is someone who is particuarly infirm – whether because of illness, infirmity, pregnancy, or age (very young or very old) – then I may give up my seat, regardless of whether it is a man or a woman. If a woman would never consider giving up her seat for me, then I would never consider doing it for her either.

If I am dining with strangers, as each person enters, I will rise and offer my hand to introduce myself, regardless of sex and regardless of whether the situation is formal or casual. If it is people I know, then I may merely greet them without rising. Either way, I treat people without regard to their sex.

From “Etiquette for Dummies”: