Saturday, August 6, 2011

Let’s talk about Manners

Let’s start with this one simple question – WHERE HAVE THEY GONE?? Then we’ll tackle what they are exactly; from my point of view; of course. Manners used to be so important to everyone. I can recall being a young girl; probably in elementary school and we even talked about them in class. Now there are very few manners being practiced in schools – let alone discussed. Now I’m not only complaining about children here, manners have gone to hell in a hand basket across the board. I’ve found lately that older men are the worst; they walk around like the world owes them respect just because they’re old. Try holding the door for me when my arms are full of groceries then we’ll talk about respect.

I have to admit that I may be a little biased about manners. I will let you in on a little not well kept secret – I went to finishing school. There I said it. I learned the art (yes, that’s what they called it) of manners, etiquette and presentation. I feel as though some definitions are in order here. It may have gotten so bad in our society that these words should be defined just so it’s clear what I’m talking about.

According to the Random House Dictionary:

Manners are – ways of behaving with reference to polite standards.
Etiquette is – conventional requirements as to social behaviour.

Basic manners; or maybe better said as the bare minimum of standards here would entail: please and thank you and you’re welcome. My pleasure may be substituted for you’re welcome but no worries is never appropriate! Holding the door for people entering and exiting a building, including the elevator door. Excuse me when you walk in front of someone or bump/run into a person/shopping cart by accident. My apologies may also apply depending on the nature of the encounter. Pleasantries when someone speaks to you – such as your cashier, or hairdresser or taxi driver. If someone who is serving you or helping you in some way speaks to you look at them and answer them. Giving your seat to an older person, pregnant woman or someone who clearly needs it more than you do when in the situation where there aren’t enough seats for everyone.  Don’t even get me started on driving! It’s really not that hard, and we don’t all need to get there ahead of the guy in front or behind us. Driving isn’t a competition sport most of the time.

When I was in finishing school we studied manners, etiquette, presentation, elocution and walking with a book on our heads and while it was stressed that there is always a correct way to do something the right way to do most things should come easy to us. Manners are about making us and those around us comfortable. It’s not about always using the correct fork as much as being kind and thoughtful to those around us because it makes for much more enjoyable interactions between people and a better environment to be in.

To summarize: Stand up straight, shoulders down and back and legs together, smile and make eye contact with those around you. Say please and thank you and you’re welcome and don’t forget excuse me from time to time. Hold doors, and give up your seat when it’s the correct and right thing to do. Don’t talk too loud, don’t have a potty mouth where it’s not appropriate and for God’s sake don’t talk on your cell phone in restaurants! 

Seems like common sense to me; so how come so many people just don’t get it?

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