Black Women's Improvement Project (BWIP)

Etiquette 101: Do You Have Your Consideration C.A.R.D.?

Consideration for ourselves and for each other is one of (in my very humble opinion) the most important attributes of etiquette. It is the heartbeat of the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” In other words, treat others the way you would want to be treated. However in the name of freedom and exercising ones “rights” people seem to have failed to understand that a lack of consideration for others can be harmful and as a result they blind themselves to the impact of their actions. They think nothing of cutting in line, cutting people off, giving people the finger, etc not caring how this behavior reflects on them.

While circumstances are not always fair and people are not always going to behave towards others the way they should, to do well in the game of life, we have to know how to use the hand we are dealt. I will use the acronym C.A.R.D to address four areas where we should remember to exercise consideration. C.A.R.D stands for Conversation, Attire, RSVP, and Dining.


When we speak to one another, we have to remember to consider each others feelings. We must listen to each other respectfully and if need be, agree to disagree. Sadly the internet has provided us with a way to forget our conversational manners and to be rude and insulting anonymously. Many of us say things in this light we would never say to the person’s face. After all, who has time to track down DiscoLady299 to straighten them out?

Some topics are way too sensitive to discuss and usually do not end pretty once that can of worms is opened. Unless those involved are mature enough to have an adult conversation on certain subjects, it is best to avoid them even if you are “right”. Some of the topics to avoid that many of us are familiar witl include, religion, politics, money, and race. Drawing from personal experience, I had a discussion with a friend who was white about race, a discussion she initiated. She was very opinionated and I diplomatically tried to explain to her there were certain things she would never understand unless she were black. The conversation upset her and she abruptly ended it. I told her going forward I would not discuss racially charged topics with her and if she brought them up I would change the subject.

Conversations should provide an opportunity to share the best of ourselves and allow others to do the same. Sometimes challenging conversations cannot be avoided, but to the best of our ability it would be wise to diffuse them by changing the subject or graciously excusing ourselves if need be.


Everyone has their own style of dress , but it goes without saying that what we wear should fit the occasion. I live in California and out here people are just way too casual about their appearance. A dear friend of mine had a lovely afternoon wedding where the attire was after 5. A mutual friend of ours and his wife showed up in extremely casual clothes, he wore jeans and a work shirt and she showed up in a jean skirt and casual top. I suppose they think because they showed up, they were being supportive, that is part of it, but to me they were very inconsiderate of her and her new husband by the lack of effort on their part to dress for the occasion.

In consideration for yourself dress in a way that will inspire people to want to treat you better. Believe it or not our attire many times plays a role in how people consider treating us. A wardrobe consultant I am acquainted with recommends when you are returning items to a store or shop go properly dressed. He conducted a test with two of his assistants; he sent them to return items, one casually dressed and the other with a more polished appearance. The assistant with the more polished appearance had a smoother time getting the return taken care of.


This one is a little tricky because when it comes to parties and events everyone has their own protocol, but here are some things to consider. First when you are invited to a party or event , let the person who invited you know if you will attend or not. I have noticed that friends or family will not let me know they are attending and will just “show up”. The reason for RSVP’ing to the invitation is so that your host or hostess will know how much food and beverages to have available for the correct number of guests. Second never bring additional guests unless you have cleared it with the person who invited you (another pet peeve of mine) and for the same reason as the first, your host or hostess is paying for all the food and beverages being served and it could create embarrassment for your host or hostess if they run out of refreshments. I have noticed parents are notorious for this when it comes to children’s birthday parties, in addition to bringing the child that was invited, they will many times drop off their siblings too! Unless the invitation specifies the other children, ask the hosting parent if the other children can attend or not, but please do not assume! Third, be on time especially if it is a sit down dinner. It is very inconsiderate to keep the other guests waiting. Lastly send a thank you note, your Host or Hostess spent time and money on the event and wanted to include you in their celebration, so let them know you appreciated being invited.


A colleague of mine who used to manage a restaurant shared that people who dressed nicely got seated in the nicer areas of the restaurant while those who dressed more casual/frumpy were seated in the rear of the restaurant out of public view. If it is a nice restaurant, dressing nicely demonstrates that we are considerate of the restaurant and it’s clientele. Watch how your are eating , make sure you are upright bringing the food to you not bowing in worship to your plate. Avoid unpleasant conversations not only in consideration for those you are dining with, but for the other patrons who may overhear. Leave the cell phones, Ipads, etc. in the car or out of sight, it is distracting! Lastly, unless the service is extremely bad, tip WELL! The tip left on the table is not just for your server, they have to split it with the busboy and another server that may be assisting them. If you are using the restaurant for a business meeting and will be using the table for 2 hours or more, implement what I call the “$20 rule”. Slip the 20 dollar bill to the server and explain that you will be using the table for more than an hour for business. The reason? In the time you are using that table the server could have turned that table over at least two more times and you are compensating them for the lost tips from the meals that will not happen. Because you are considerate of them, you will more and likely receive better service and if you frequent that establishment often, they will remember you.

In closing I want to stress that I understand that we are adults and I do not want to imply to those who read this that they do not have any home upbringing, but just to mention some finer points we all at times forget.

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