“Mind your manners!” “Watch your tongue!” “Remember your p’s and q’s!”
How am I supposed to ‘mind’ my manners, they’re not something that runs away? How can I ‘watch’ my tongue when I can barely see it? Why do I need to remember my p’s and q’s, I haven’t forgotten the words ‘please’ and ‘thank you’? None of this makes sense! Most of us heard phrases like this as we grew up, because our parents were teaching us manners. Many of us will do the same thing with our children in the future. But why do we bother? What is so important about teaching manners, anyway?
For one thing, having good manners meets a social expectation – it seems to be a part of life that kids are expected to have good manners, and will earn more respect when they do. Whether this seems fair or not, it is just a way of life. While it may seem rude for people to judge you for not having good manners, in reality, if you act without good manners they will think that you are the one being rude to them. At the heart of good manners is a respect for oneself and others. Good manners convey a sense of respect for other people. When you say “thank you,” you’re taking the time to make the other person feel appreciated. Saying “please” respects a person’s right to decide for themselves and is less demanding.
Another thing to consider is the role good manners play in your future. At the end of the day, good manners can make or break an opportunity. For instance, if you are up for your first job and your credentials match another candidate’s, the more polite person may end up with the job. Even just in general, you are likely to find that good manners go a long way in endearing yourself to teachers, coaches, and peers. Simply put, you will probably be more successful in life with good manners.
While no one is perfect, imagine a culture where good manners just don’t exist – not a pleasant thought! Good manners set a standard of behaviour against which other behaviour can be measured, which helps keep order and civility in society. Manners never go out of style. They are even more important in a world that is neglecting them. In our increasingly rude world, manners are always appreciated by teachers, friends, adults and even strangers. Standing out from the crowd is a good thing. Making eye contact, shaking hands, offering assistance and putting your phone away at the dinner table is still appreciated habits. Saying please and thank you, holding the door for someone and helping an elderly or pregnant woman with her groceries are all examples of good manners that people of all ages, nationalities and economic backgrounds appreciate!
In today’s world there are unfortunately a lot of things we will do that will upset or annoy people, even if we do not mean to. However, with good manners and good attitude, you are much closer to working out these differences and coming to an understanding. So the next time your parents are hissing in your ear, “Say thank you,” “Sit up straight,” “Shake hands,” “Say please,” “MIND YOUR MANNERS,” hopefully it will all make a bit more sense.
Critical Thinking Questions:
- Where/when did the idea of good manners originate in history?
- How has the ideal of “good manners” changed over time?
- Why are “good manners” still important in a society that rewards typically bad-mannered people, such a Donald Trump?
Practical Thinking Questions:
- What is an example of good manners? What positive effect will it have?
- What is an example of bad manners? What negative effect will it have?
- How can you improve people’s perception of you if you have previously had bad manners? Is it too late to improve? Where is a good place to start?