Monday, November 20, 2006

Making Guests Feel Uncomfortable?

Kim from Hiareth made this comment on a post at Regaining Paradise:

Our whole family kicks off shoes before coming into the house. That means our house or anyone else's house. Its an ingrained habit. Tom and I both grew up in homes where this was the accepted protocol.

Having said that, I don't ask my guests to slip off their shoes. I want my guests to feel comfy and some people feel exposed without their shoes.

I would like to answer the claim that having a shoes-off policy will make guests feel uncomfortable.

Firstly, I do not think the majority of people, at least in the UK, would feel uncomfortable about removing their shoes. That does not mean that they will remove their shoes without being asked; it is not the norm here in Britain, so they need promting. Hence, we are talking about a minority of people.

There are several possible reasons why people might not feel confortable about removing their shoes:

Their feet smell
I actually think most people's feet smell far less than they may think. If people wear clean socks and get into the habit of taking off their shoes at home, they will find that their feet do not smell much. If people are really worried about this, they can bring slippers with them and use foot deoderent before their visit.

They are embarassed about their feet
No problem. They can bring slippers or socks with them. If their visit is unexpected, the host should offer them clean socks to wear.

Their feet may get cold
Again, they can bring some slippers with them or wear wooly socks.

They feel that shoes are essential to their outfit
One needs to dress appropriately to the occasion. If you go jogging, you wear a tracksuit and trainers. If you attend a funeral, you should wear a dark suit. If you visit a no-shoes home, you should chose an outfit that looks good with barefeet.

They are not used to taking their shoes off in other people's home
Poor things. They will get used to it. When you visit somebody else's home, you should accept that they may do things differently. When in Rome...

If people really are that unconfortable about taking their shoes off, they had better not do too much travelling. In Asian, Canadian, East European and Scandinavian homes, you are expected to remove your shoes at the door. They need to realise that there are quite a lot of circumstances in life where one has to take one's shoes off; in a swimming pool, at airport security, when practising Yoga or when visiting a Mosque.

Is it really such a big deal to take one's shoes off when visiting the cosy house of somebody who wants to protect their carpet from dust and filth?

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