Ghost hunters should be aware of the rules of etiquette and manners of the ghosts they hope to contact. Of course, it helps if you have an idea of the era when each ghost lived. Manners changed considerably, from time to time.
Remember, through much of the 19th century — and even today, in some cultures — when someone flagrantly or consistently broke rules of etiquette, people with good manners usually ignored them… quite deliberately.
So, learn the manners of the time if you want to establish rapport with a specific ghost. I discussed this briefly in my earlier article, Consider the Ghosts’ Contexts.
At right is a specific example. It’s a list of “ill manners” for anyone attending a party or dance in 1789. These kinds of manners will apply to ghosts from 1750 – 1850, and perhaps a wider time frame.
What might offend your ghost so much that he or she will act as if you’re not there? Here are a few things not to do, mentioned in the 1789 guide.
- Arriving with your hat on, and — even worse — leaving it on, indoors.
- Laughing loudly.
- Tapping or drumming with your hands or feet.
- Leaning on a chair that a ghost might be sitting in.
- Throwing something to another person in the room, instead of walking over to them and handing them the object.
- Ridiculing anyone. That includes sarcastic comments about other people who aren’t in the room, or making fun of someone else, even as a joke everyone enjoys.
- Smiling too much. Frowning (or looking concerned) too much.
If you want to establish rapport with your ghost(s), know the etiquette of their time. That’s not just about avoiding bad manners, but keeping good manners in mind.
- Knock before entering a room that might be occupied by a ghost.
- Introduce yourself, and explain what you’re doing there.
- Once rapport (any kind of communication) is established and someone else enters the room, you should do the introducing, since you’re already known to the ghost.
- If you do something that might startle the ghost, apologize.
- When you’re preparing to leave, explain why you’re leaving, and whether or not you plan to return.
Though most ghost hunters have success without following all (or any) of these guidelines, consider trying this approach to see if it improves your results.
For a wider range of manners and rules of etiquette, visit your public library. Some of the best authors for our work will include Emily Post and Letitia Baldridge, as well as Miss Manners.
For further reading: Consider the Ghosts’ Context