I’m big on manners around here. Part of it is that I’m a recovering people-pleaser. Plus, I have first-born status and I’m the ultra-responsible type. Not always a good thing, but when it comes to manners, I just prefer to talk to people when I’m not seeing the chicken teriyaki they are chewing churning around by their canines. I think manners strengthen social bonds, help us be understood, show gratitude and appreciation and help us all get along. When we are acting politely with each other, all the other stuff moves away and we can connect more deeply.
Course, as I mentioned in Monday’s post, there are times too when I think we should break the rules, act impolite. My daughter and I talked about this when she got in trouble for talking out of turn in class. It is a bad habit and it’s disrespectful to those around to talk when someone else is talking — which she does too often. But, on this day, she was actually sticking up for a kid who was being put down by others. Manners don’t matter as much, then, I told her when something bigger is at stake.
Most days though, I think behaving with common courtesy makes life better for everyone. But, not all courtesies are treated equal and I think there are four biggies – manners that you shouldn’t live without – worth cultivating and practicing.
Four Must-Have Manners
1. Make eye contact. Please, if you have something to say, look at me. Look me in the eye. Be with me. Be seen and validate that I am there listening. This is a toughy for many people and it’s one that must be taught and practiced, but do it, because this is how we connect to each other. It’s shows respect, that you are seeing the other and willing to be there with them.
2. Say please and thank you. Basic, sure, but not done enough. Don’t just let these phrases roll of your tongue after you’ve turned to haul your groceries to the car. Pause, look at the person in the eye and say “thank you.” If you need something, then stop, look again and say “please.” Do this often and always. Even in your families. It’s easy to take each other for granted, but when my husband says “thank you” for the meal I’ve cooked, I feel appreciated and good. And, please don’t forget to send a “thank you” note. If someone does something that touches you, gives you a gift, helps out drop a note, let them know. The gesture will make both of you feel good and when that happens you’re likely to forge a deeper connection.
3. Don’t interrupt. Well, you all know, this isn’t my strong suit. I get a notion and I tend to blurt it out even when others are talking. Rude behavior. Disrespectful. I’m working on it daily. Not kidding. It’s a powerful thing to be seen and heard by another. Grant the courtesy. Let others know that you value them and their time. Listen actively.
4. When you are chewing, don’t talk, when you are talking don’t chew. Seriously, people. I don’t need to see what you are eating and I certainly don’t need it to inadvertently to fly my way mid-chomp. Chew with your mouth closed. Put your napkin in your lap, your elbows off the table and practice those table manners. You’re more likely to be invited out and you’re showing respect for the people who are at the table with you.