Etiquette: Vanessa

Etiquette: Vanessa

"I have awful table manners. I chew with my mouth open. I use my hands when I should be using a utensil," says Vanessa.


Her own lack of etiquette disgusts her, including talking with her mouth full, burping out loud and spilling food on her clothes. "I am a sloppy dresser. I'll adjust my underwear and pull my pants up in public," she confesses.


Vanessa worries that she is an embarrassment to her friends and family. "I want people to respect me and want to be around me. I know what good manners are. I just can't seem to put it into action," she frets.

"You know everything that you're doing. So why are you doing it?" Dr. Phil asks Vanessa.


"I don't know. I can try to [have manners] for a day, but then I'll just fall back on my old habits," she replies.


Dr. Phil runs down a list of Vanessa's offensive behaviors. "You chew with your mouth [open], chug drinks, use fingers, burp, talk about inappropriate things, like parasites and tapeworms," he says with a grimace. "You dress sloppily: messy hair, no makeup. Are you clean?"


"Yeah," she replies. "I don't style my hair in the morning. I don't put makeup on. I figure I'm probably going to get a stain on my clothes anyway, so why wear something nice?"

Dr. Phil says Vanessa gets a payoff for her lack of polish. "Any time you see someone who defines themselves in a certain way, makes a certain statement " wardrobe-wise or otherwise " it's because it works for them on some level," Dr. Phil explains. "You're comfortable this way, right?"


"Physically, yes. I just dress casually for comfort," Vanessa answers.


"Why do you want to change this?" Dr. Phil asks.


"I don't want to be known forever for my bad etiquette," she replies. "I don't want my friends to be embarrassed to go places with me. I just want to be more ladylike."


"You have so many good qualities going for you. I know we can fix this easily," Peggy assures Vanessa. "I can send you a library of etiquette books and give you some tips. I can find a graduate of our "Train the Trainer" etiquette classes who lives here in California. We can get you a little bit of coaching."

"Would you do that?" Dr. Phil asks Vanessa.


"Oh, I would!" she assures him.


Dr. Phil promises to follow-up with Vanessa's story.