Minding Your P’s & Q’s

Call me old-fashioned but I like manners and they really don’t cost a penny, or a minute. With most of us running around without a moment to spare it’s not surprising that manners seem to have been one of the first things to go. We just don’t have time.

If that’s your excuse, then it’s a bad one. If someone does something nice for you than show your appreciation dammit! It takes seconds to say thank you and you might just make someone’s life better. If that’s not enough to sway you, it will also make you feel better. I guarantee it. Doing something good for others makes us feel good about ourselves. It’s the way we’re wired.

Manners may seem an odd topic for one of my diatribes but I realized how much they meant to me the other day on the bus. A woman got on with a buggy and the person sitting in the seats by the buggy area moved so the woman could sit with her buggy. This act is hardly worthy of the global peace prize. Most of us would just say it’s normal human behaviour. I’d be the first to agree BUT the important thing is the woman didn’t have to; so why didn’t the woman with the buggy say thank you?! This is what has me so incensed. By moving the woman was acting out of human decency, doing something many of us would have done, but since when was this something we took for granted. She was hardly in a rush as she proceeded to sit on the bus for a while. It wouldn’t have cost her anything to thank the woman for moving. So why not do it? I can’t get my head around it.

The benefits of having good manners are multi-faceted. They help foster good relationships professionally and personally. Good manners show you care, show you’re attentive, show you’re taking note. People with good manners make an impact. I’m more likely to shop somewhere or eat somewhere if the employees are well-mannered. If they make me feel comfortable. If they tell me to have a good day. Manners are also a sign of respect. If you show someone respect they’re more likely to listen to you, to trust you. Lastly, it’s one of the simplest models for good behaviour. If you want children and young people to be respectful and kind, they need to be shown. By modelling good manners we show those around us how to behaviour. There are multiple benefits to good manners so let’s try and encourage it more.

Here’s my last thought on the matter. Recently at a school I saw a poster created by a student which read ‘I see humans but no humanity’. I fear as humans we are losing a quintessential part of our persona. If manners are the first to go what else are we going to lose? Is our lack of good manners a sign that we are becoming desensitized to little acts of human kindness? I see manners and kindness as intrinsically linked. Once we stop acknowledging human decency will we start to lose that too? Will we stop getting up for people on the bus? Or holding a door open because people no longer take a moment to acknowledge it?  I don’t want humanity to get into a cycle where we expect human kindness but don’t deserve it. This really worries me. Until such time as I start seeing better manners on the bus I’ll be yelling thank you as I step onto the kerb. Just because.

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