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Chapter 7 Military Courtesy
Naval Orientation - Military manual for administrative purposes
Suggestions for Shipboard Officers
juniors. Those serving their country in the strictly ordered fraternity of military service observe naval courtesy  as  a  type  of  ritual. GENERAL  RELATIONS  BETWEEN JUNIORS  AND  SENIORS A  junior  officer  approaching  a  senior  for  the purpose  of  making  an  official  report  remains  at attention until invited to be seated or to stand at ease.   The   junior   officer   awaits   rather   than anticipates the invitation. Unless  on  watch,  a  person  in  the  naval service  uncovers  when  entering  a  room  where  a senior is present. When  a  senior  enters  a  room  where  junior officers or enlisted persons are seated, the one who first  sees  the  senior  calls,  “Attention  on  deck.” All present remain at attention until ordered to carry  on. Personnel seated at work, at games, or at mess normally are not required to rise when an officer passes unless they must clear a path. However, they are required to rise when called to attention or when a flag officer or the captain of the ship passes. The place of honor is on the right. Accordingly, when a junior walks, rides, or sits with a senior, the  junior  takes  position  alongside  and  to  the  left. When  entering  an  automobile  or  a  boat, officers   do   so   in   inverse   order   of   grade.   A lieutenant  and  a  captain  getting  into  an  auto- mobile enter in that order. The lieutenant takes the  seat  in  the  far,  or  left-hand,  corner  and  the captain sits on the right side. When getting out, the captain leaves first. In entering buildings or rooms,  however,  the  junior  opens  doors  for  the senior and enters last. The custom of the “right-hand rule” is an old one,  quaintly  expressed  by  George  Washington in  the  30th  “Rule  of  Civility”:  “In  walking,  the highest place in most countries seems to be on the right  hand,  therefore,  place  yourself  on  the  left of  him  whom  you  desire  to  honor.” At  parties,  to  leave  before  the  commanding officer  is  considered  poor  taste.  If  necessary  to do  so,  guests  should  pay  their  respects  to  the commanding   officer   before   departing. A  junior  never  offers  to  shake  hands  with  a senior; the senior makes the first gesture. A   junior   officer   avoids   keeping   a   senior waiting.  Normal  courtesy  aside,  punctuality  is essential in the military service. When called by a  senior,  a  junior  responds  immediately. In replying to questions from a senior, a junior officer avoids a great deal of embarrassment by giving  complete  and  explicit  answers.  If  the  junior cannot   supply   the   desired   information,   an   “I don’t  know,  sir/ma’am,  but  I  will  find  out  and let  you  know ”  is  the  best  answer.  An  indirect answer  may  convey  misinformation  on  which  a senior  may  be  basing  an  important  decision.  To avoid   admitting   ignorance,   juniors   sometimes make evasive statements that not only seriously affect their reputation but also confuse the issue. A   junior   assigned   to   do   a   task   should promptly  report  the  progress  of  completing  the task to the senior. The junior should report either the  completion  of  the  task  or  exactly  what  has been  done  toward  its  completion. When given orders, juniors must ensure they know what is required. They should not hesitate to ask questions to clarify points. If they need ad- vice, they should seek it first from their peers, but should not hesitate to go to the senior who gave the orders. Juniors should anticipate the wishes of  a  senior  whenever  possible. An  officer  should  not  jump  the  chain  of command. When necessary to proceed to someone higher in the chain of command, officers should keep  their  immediate  supervisor  informed  of  their actions. Suggestions for Junior Officers Excuses for failure or negligence are always unacceptable. Officers should assume responsibility and not depend on alibis. If at fault, they should freely  accept  blame. Bootlicking, a deliberate courting of a person for  favor,  is  despised.  Seniors  may  temporarily mistake such tactics for a sincere desire to please and  to  do  a  good  job.  However,  through  long experience  with  such  behavior,  they  in  time recognize  this  false  sincerity.  However,  junior officers must make a genuine effort to be friendly and  cooperative  to  succeed.  Persons  with  a continued   willingness   to   undertake   any   task assigned and perform it cheerfully and efficiently eventually  gain  a  reputation  for  dependability. They  also  ensure  their  popularity  with  fellow officers. Continued complaining has the opposite effect. The  satisfaction  of  having  done  a  good  job should  be  sufficient  reward  in  itself.  The  junior officer  should  not  report  each  personal  or divisional  accomplishment  to  the  senior  officer. Of  course  a  report  that  is  required  must  be  made, but work well done generally reaches the attention of  superiors. 7-2

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