Monday, July 21, 2008

Etiquette is Bunk

I get so irritated by these so-called 'etiquette experts' who continue to insist that it is impolite to ask guests to remove their shoes. Who made them rulers and judges over us?

There is no absolute bible of etiquette. There are certain courtesies that most of us are agreed about, but other than that it is a matter of opinion.

When reading travel guides, I have often found they disagree about the details of foreign etiquette. For instance, I have heard conflicting opinions about saunas in Finland. One guide said that one should never refuse the offer of a turn in the sauna; another said that it is perfectly fine to chicken out of a nude sweaty session in Suomi.

On the subject of removing shoes in Japan I have heard conflicting views. Obviously, In Japan you remove your shoes. But do you turn them around to point to the door after removing them? Some say this is the host's responsiblity, others that the guest should do this. Some say that you should always put on the slippers offered by the host (which is a pain because they seldom fit differently shaped western feet), others that you can decline them if you like.

Etiquette is bunk. It is just a matter of opinion. I have no regard for these so-called "etiquette experts" at all.

Etiquette has changed. I read an old etiquette book that said that it was more polite to enter a house in muddy shoes than to remove them. I imagine most hosts today, even those who do not prefer shoes-off would be horrified at the thought of somebody coming in their house in muddy boots. If it is not acceptable to remove shoes in homes, surely it is also acceptable to politely request that they are removed?


Ryan Corcoran said...

Thanks for stopping by our blog at!

As far as etiquette is concerned, we will often ask if people will please remove their shoes at the door, but if they insist on keeping them on, we don't push the issue. Friendships are way more important than needing to do a little extra floor cleaning after guests leave.

Celestial Fundie said...

Thanks for visiting.

I agree with you that it is important to maintain friendships, I am glad though that you do ask people nicely to remove their shoes.

God Bless


hugh said...

An excellent blog matthew,where you raise some very salient points.I wanted to post my own experiences of the subject.I have lived in various parts of the UK and i must say i have found that actually very few people wear shoes in their own house yet at the same time do not insist on visitors on removing their.Without doubt you are entirely correct in saying the issue is indeed one of ettiquette.As child at home my mother policy was simple,for the family it was shoes off and slippers on at the door.However,even though we had light carpets,she did not extend the rule to visitors unless their shoes were muddy.I have say that seemed to be the prevailing policy then and still is now.I have my own family now and we are fortunate to live in a very comfortable area.As family we take our shoes off in the entrance hall and the families slippers are left inside the house by the door.We expect overnight guests to do as we do.But apart from that we only ask for dirty shoes to be removed,Once again this does seem to be the norm in our area.My wife and i idealy would like a no shoes policy for all visitors,but feel very uncomfortable about enforcing it,And finally we do think that homes that do insist on shoes off,should if possible warn visitors in advance.There is nothing more uncomfortable than cold feet.Sorry its long comment,but i just wanted to share what im sorry to say is really common view based on my experiences.Thank you.

Celestial Fundie said...

Hugh, thanks for visiitng and sharing your experience.

I think you are right that a lot of people in the UK would not wear shoes in their homes, but would not ask visitors to remove their shoes.

I am guessing the reason your policy differs with overnight visitors is because you are less comfortable about shoes being worn upstairs in the more private part of your hosue? I wonder if there are lots more people who think like that. When one visits a house, one tends not to be invited upstairs.

I would encourage you to be brave and try asking people to take their shoes off. You might find that people don't mind at all.

God Bless