Daniel House


How Do You Do: The Only Greeting of Best Society

Our Dear Mr. and Mrs. So and So,

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How do you do? Everyone of any stature knows that is the only permissible salutation. Though perhaps best society has evolved to accept “How are you,” it certainly does not accept “Yo!” or “Hey, You!”

 We hope your luncheon was a success, and you addressed the Queen with suitable manners.

Today, we’d like to talk about how Emily Post recommends good people greet one another. In truth, she doesn’t have much to say on the matter, as she does really suggest “how do you do” as the only proper greeting. Still, she does have rules about the places and volume at which the salutation should be made, as well as the sort of hand shake by which it ought to be accompanied.  

First, if you didn’t know, you almost never talk to anyone in church. Perhaps try texting. But in seriousness, Post does offer respect for the solemnity of certain occasions. We’d like to propose an amendment here and say, at least in American congregations, it would be the height of rudeness not to address your neighbors in church, though we think the relaxed environment of sipping lattes during service could be called into question.  And if we may be so bold, there is still reason to dress in one’s Sunday best; you are visiting God’s house after all, not a fast food establishment.

Second, Post says it is in very poor taste to salute in a language other than one’s own, unless speaking to someone who does use that language. To bare your worldliness in such a cheap manner is just obnoxious. We agree with her on this matter.

Finally, Post touches on the issue one’s handshakefulness, a word we have borrowed, that qualifies one’s personality through his or her handshake. We have all no doubt experienced the extreme displeasure of a poor handshake, either too limp or so firm as to cut off circulation! Never grasp with such gusto as to squeeze your victim’s rings into his or her flesh and never shake violently about. Likewise, do not offer a lifeless hand. A proper handshake is brief, warm, strong and accompanied by a glance into the countenance of the person whose hand one takes. Gentlemen, remember, should you meet a lady in the street on a cold afternoon, you are to remove your right glove before shaking her hand (Check below to shop for gloves that look great on or off one’s hands) . At an indoor occasion where gloves are worn, you do not need to remove them before shaking.

To everyone, know it is up to you whether or not you extend your hand. Certain personalities are naturally more aloof. It is not necessarily a sign of rudeness to abstain.

Most Humbly Yours,


Peter and Alexander of The House of Spalding, The Fourth Generation of Bankers and Merchants from Central Wisconsin’s Gold Coast of The Great Lakes Michigan and Winnebago the Lesser.

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