It’s become apparent, in the last few years especially, that manners are being left by the wayside. Perhaps it’s down to the proliferation of gormless world leaders, maybe it’s not. Either way, this is something, you, dear reader, need to keep on top of. Why are you being directly targeted? Because manners – much like charity – starts at home.
“Mammy, why is everyone forgetting their manners in our town?” Currently, we live in a village mostly filled with retirees from the middle classes. None of them say “Thank you”, or “You’re welcome”, never mind the simple yet always appreciated “Please.” This is unfortunate – not just on a human level – but also speaking as someone who’s currently trying to teach a belligerent toddler the benefit of manners. It also has the five-year-old questioning why she would even bother with them in the first place.
We’re not trying to revert to ye olden times, when people were submerged in etiquette, we’re simply referring to basic pleasantries. And this is where the local teens shine through. People of school-going age in the village are the most polite (when they look up from their phones). It’s the people society generally expects to be rife with platitudes, those over 50, that look right through you.
One could argue “Well, anything could be going on in their lives, give them a break.” Often, strangers would say “Smile” to me during a particularly dark time, but it didn’t make me forget my manners. Manners should be automatic. Engrained. And I have my parents, their extended family and their friends to thank for that.
At this point, you may be thinking, “pious much?” Patronising? Riding my high horse backwards? Indeed, I’m all of those things right now – because manners matter in society. Manners are a bumper, a buffer for when we encounter strangers. Without manners, we’re just careering into each other, deploying a series of orders.
After working in the service industries for most of my teens, I know that manners cost nothing and mean everything. That’s why the rage crept in thanks to a recent tweet posted by John Kelly He recounted a trip to a coffee shop where “Nobody in front of me – not a single person – said hello, please or thank you to the staff. Mostly blokes in suits.” Some have argued that Machismo is to blame, the notion that saying “thank you” or displaying any indication of gratitude is tantamount to weakness. If anything, it’s the opposite. Manners maketh the man.
Here is why manners matter in every facet of life…
• Your children watch you at home (yep, you’re never off the hook). If you’re consistently polite in day to day things, they will absorb that and reflect it. We’re not perfect, a flurry of expletives is expected, but I try to get away with that by saying “They’re words mummy only uses in the house when she’s frustrated.”
• Manners are universal and automatically connects us to one another. And that connection needs maintenance.
• It helps with confidence across the board. Regular use of manners will make it second nature to your child, making them more at ease in social settings.
• Being respectful in your interactions with strangers will show your child cause and effect. If you say thanks and smile at someone, they’re more likely to respond positively. And that’s why I keep trying in my village.
• Manners are most important for a future career, making a giving and receiving of respect. It could also be the difference in getting promoted.
• It makes the recipient of your thanks feel appreciated after they have done something for you and is therefore just f*%king good manners.
• All of the above should be reinforced when behind the wheel of a car.
It takes a village to raise a child. A community of people looking out for each other. Caring. This is an extreme example, but worth noting. Recently, The New York Times reported that a man was left sitting behind the wheel of his car for a week. Nobody got involved. Nobody cared. Maybe, they just saw someone sitting in a car, but after a number of days seeing the same man sitting motionless in a car – during a hot summer – surely someone would retrieve themselves out of their own navels for long enough to think “Perhaps this isn’t right.”
Caring starts with four simple phrases. Excuse me. Please. Thank you. You’re welcome.
Oh, and PLEASE cover yisser gaping gob when you yawn on public transport. That’s just plain gross.