Feel crass and gauche in posh company? Follow this DIY to smoothen rough edges.

While we all agree that substance is the essence of our being, we also need to acknowledge that it needs to be packaged with pleasing manners and a well-rounded personality. Some people are bred in such a way that social niceties and protocol are just a way of life. And mind you, that has nothing to do with social standing, status or wealth. It has simply to do with breeding; wealth is not equal to culture, dignity and class! Always remember that. Don’t adopt a social way of life only to fit in; want for it because it completes you, irrespective of your environment. And here are a few ways you can go about it.

Meet people from whom you can learn a range of things. If you’d like to learn to set the table for a formal six-course meal, ask a friend who is in the hospitality business. Similarly, attend a workshop on wine-tasting to learn more about bouquets.

Brush up on your language skills. While this doesn’t mean going to bed with a dictionary, subscribe to A Word A Day newsletter expand your vocabulary. Pay minute attention to grammar and check emails and letter for spelling mistakes and redundancy.

Conduct yourself with dignity and take the high road during arguments. Where matters of litigation lie, follow the rule-book. Don’t approach disputes with the attitude of a fisher-woman; instead, take the legal route.
What you wear will always speak for where you are on the socio-economic ladder, however, shop keeping your wallet and style in mind. Buy few expensive pieces, even designer-wear on sale if you like, and team it with what already lies in your wardrobe. Don’t wear too many labels together and steer clear from fakes.

Nurture relations with people who impress you in professional and personal life for posterity.

Try a different kind of cuisine every month. Choose the most expensive or authentic restaurant you can afford, study the menu and ask the captain to make suggestions or for clarification about dishes. Follow the etiquette of that cuisine be it pairing the food with the right wine or eating with chopsticks.

Now make a personal judgment about the experience. If you think foie gras is cruel, don’t pretend to like it because everyone else does. If you still like gaadi Chinese to the authentic thing, it is purely your personal choice, but at least you won’t feel out of depth when you are invited to a posh place.

With specific reference to social graces, protocol and niceties in a social situation, mirror the positive behavior of the people around you. And in order to do that, keep your observation antennae sharp and swift.

When in doubt, be quiet and listen. Nervous people tend to over-talk and feel foolish later. Instead, ask other people about what they do or observe their conversations while quietly nursing a drink.

Note how a good host brings together people with similar interest at parties and do the same. Observe how different people greet, behave and interact with friends, acquaintances and business associates and colleagues.
Cultivate and subtly mirror at least two (if not more) aspects of the acceptable behavior within your own intimate circle. Gauge the level of its acceptability. If you feel that what you have reproduced is being well received, demonstrate the same in the other circles that you find yourself in from time to time. In this way, as you move forward, cultivate more of such aspects them out until it becomes a habit.

Your ‘newly-found’ behavior should not be starkly different from the original you – adopt and mirror ways that suit your personality and your environment. Anything else will seem out of place and affected. For example, don’t start serving high-tea if you are a chai-pakoda person. But do go out and get some nice cups and saucers and serve tea in those.

Prepare in advance for an important social engagement. Ask around on what is an appropriate gift for a house-warming or a restaurant opening. Buy a suitably unique gift which does not have to be expensive. Flowers suit most occasions, but go through the trouble to pick exotic ones or buy a flamboyant bouquet.

Your behavior should be governed by two issues – the being and the bucks.

THE BEING: Do not adopt behavior that is inherently not your nature. It is always recommended not to adopt mannerisms and demonstrate behavior that is in keeping with what you naturally are from the inside. If you’re strict vegetarian, don’t start serving veal and caviar just because it’s upper crust. But you could move to tofu and Crème brulee.

THE BUCKS: Do not portray yourself to be what you are not. Live within your means and do not attempt to adopt a posh lifestyle only to be socially accepted.

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