My parents worked hard to teach me good manners and for this I feel quite fortunate and grateful. As always, I am a continuous work in progress and I have far from perfected all forms of manners. I do however strive to set a good example for my kids when it comes to simple etiquette and common courtesies.
I stand wholeheartedly behind the power of manners and courtesy. I will take on anyone who rolls their eyes about the importance of teaching these skills to their children, for they will be sending their offspring out into the world with a severe disadvantage. I guarantee you that, when it comes to job interviews and promotions and just plain life, simple etiquette and common courtesy will take children much further in life than the guy or gal who knows not of manners.
These skills – learned primarily by example – help children to be more genuinely grateful rather than entitled, to have more friends and meaningful relationships, and to realize that we are all interconnected. Quite simply, manners help us to be more human.
These are a few of the many skills that children of all ages – and frankly humans of all ages – will do well by understanding and working toward practicing as much as possible:
- When, how and why to thank someone.
- How to listen and not interrupt, and to let others speak (I am always trying to improve on this one).
- Eye contact, eye contact, eye contact. Why it matters.
- The importance of introductions and inclusiveness in group settings.
- How to be thoughtful.
- How to eat at a formal dinner table and sit still at a restaurant. Even just the basics will empower kids later in life.
- The art of being humble rather than boastful and aware of others’ feelings (This one is a peeve of mine.).
- How to make note (whether electronically or otherwise) of important dates or events for other people and recognize them every once in a while.
- Respect for elders (No matter how old school they might seem).
- To politely greet and acknowledge a new person in their home or environment.
- To hold a door open for a person behind them when they are in close range.
- How to actually apologize (It’s amazing how many people really don’t understand how to genuinely apologize. You’re not apologizing if you don’t truly own your actions. See The One Minute Apology.) And no child is too young to learn how to apologize and recognize others’ feelings.
- Letting someone go ahead of them in a long line every now and then.
- How to say please and thank you consistently and nicely.
- How to be compassionate.
- Helping those less fortunate or ill, whether it be by raking their lawn, shoveling a walk or making a meal.
- Being helpful at a retail establishment even when it’s not your job (I’m baffled by how shocked grocery checkers are at my local store when they are short-staffed and I roll up my sleeves and start bagging my own groceries instead of standing there watching. How is this not a given?)
- Occasionally helping strangers who may have simply dropped something or who may be unable to reach or do something.
- Why, when and how to say excuse me when you bump into someone or walk in front of them, interrupt them, etc. (Another peeve of mine.)
- The art of writing a simple thank you note.
- How to give someone your full attention.
- When to PUT THE PHONE AWAY. (When having a conversation or meal with someone, when at a restaurant (get up and take the call outside), when at a social event. Trust me, if it’s important they will call more than once.)
- How to not be condescending to service people or wait staff no matter how old you are or how important you think you are (I’ve always thought of this as a sure way to really know if I like someone).
Thanks to the gals over at Grown and Flown for their post today which spurred my manners
rant post: http://grownandflown.com/millennials-need-good-manners/.
What is your biggest manners pet peeve?
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I think this is part of manners….traffic is all backed up when the light turns red. I stop before I get to the driveway for some business to let out whoever can, get out. When the light changes and I start to pull forward one last person accelerates to get out of the lot before I block their way.
Excellent list. It reminds me that courtesy is not very common anymore — if it ever really was in my lifetime because maybe my generation (Boomer) contributed to the demise.
Popular culture would seem to work against promoting good manners. For example, sitcoms require at least one main character to be rude or thoughtless or both. That’s how much of the laughter is generated. Sports is another culprit. Viewers see and hear at lot of “winning is the only thing” behavior. Gone are the days of sportswriter Grantland Rice, who told the players of his era (first half of the 20th Century) that it mattered “… not that you won or lost – But how you played the Game.” Since critical thinking does not appear to be part of most educational agendas some children and young adults tend to act out in real life what they see on TV and in video games. Are parents and teachers helping them to distinguish between entertainment and reality?
What a great list, Wry. I’m going to forward the link to this post to my adult kids.
Good list, and I love the title. My pet peeve is texting. I can’t believe how many people have their heads down constantly, no matter where they are, looking at their phone. And barely acknowleding anything else around them. Believe me, there’s plenty of time to be spent hunched over when you get old and osteoporosis happens. Enjoy being upright while you can!
My peeve? Not paying the slightest attention to others! A year and a half in Japan spoiled me, getting me accustomed to people considering others’ needs and motions as they plotted/took their own. Here, people don’t pay much mind to what others might be doing, such as when jetting out into traffic, walking down the middle of parking lot lanes, or diving into line in front of the pregnant lady with toddler. The basic respect for others (versus the assumption they are tools just points one’s way to spoil he day) reflected in small basic actions feels very much missing here . . . even 7-8 years after returning.
I love this post — a lexicon of decency and good will.
Great post! I can’t agree more about the importance of manners in society. The America I grew up in had better manners than today. Technology has in some ways helped spur the demise of good manners in public, even in driving. I applaud you for this post and for teaching your little ones these important lessons – they will undoubtedly benefit from your teachings one day.
Thanks to you for mentioning us. Great list. Pretty daunting as a parent!
You are welcome. I enjoy your blog!