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Importance of Good Manners

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The larger a population grows, it seems the worse manners become. That is too bad, because in a large, busy society, good manners become even more important. Common courtesies such as holding a door open for someone, saying “please” and “thank you,” and allowing an elderly or disabled person to go to the head of the line all make the world a nicer place to live in. Good manners do not cost anything, and it takes little extra time to practice them. Benefits

Good manners help put others at ease and therefore make social interactions more pleasant. Simple courtesies like saying “please” and “thank you” show that you acknowledge another person as more than an object. Good manners aid friendships and are essential for success in business. Function

Etiquette rules provide a template for appropriate behavior in social and business situations. Often, good manners are tied to preventing contagious disease–covering one’s mouth when coughing or turning away when sneezing, for example. Although etiquette rules vary from country to country, good manners in many countries also involve keeping unpleasant bodily functions in check. Most consider public belching or flatulence bad manners. Although no one dies from being around someone who is belching or passing gas, these things create a disgusting atmosphere. Good manners keep social situations as pleasant as possible. Geography

Behaviors that count as good manners vary from country to country. What counts as good table manners in Europe, for example, does not count as good table manners in the United States. In Europe, it is good manners to cut food with the knife in the right hand and eat with the fork in the left hand; In the United States, good manners dictate that after cutting food, one switches the fork back to the right hand. Eye contact, greetings and many other social behaviors also vary greatly within different regions in a country. In Texas, for example, well-mannered schoolchildren address adults as “sir” or “ma’am.” In most northern States, this formality is rarely enforced or expected. Warning

Because manners depend a lot on region, you should learn about cultural differences before traveling to other countries–or even to different regions within the United States. Considerations

If another person exhibits bad manners, it is not good manners to point this out in front of others. It is better to take the person aside later, if you know him well enough to do so, and tell him in private. It could be the person is unaware they are committing a social faux pas. Good manners are more than just nice. Like social traffic laws they take some of the guesswork out of interacting with one another. But perhaps more important is that good manners acknowledge the fact that no matter how brief an encounter is, there’s a fellow human being on the other side. Manners and etiquette have a practical value. Knowing in advance who is expected to go first or have a seat keeps us from having to negotiate or fight it out every time. Saying “thank you” marks the successful passing of a favour from one person to another and brings the exchange to a close. “Please” and “excuse me” request permission to come into someone else’s territory. A world without good manners would certainly be confusing and potentially brutal. Many of our customs are there to protect groups who would lose out if advantage were left to the swift or the strong. Good manners provide guidelines to follow in times of uncertainty and reduce the need of awkward exchanges and the risk of confrontation. But good manners do more than make the social world easier to navigate.

Our “pleases” and “thank yous” show that that we’re aware of dealing with another human being rather than an object. This is why poor manners can feel so offensive. It’s not like a direct insult which is personal. Lack of manners offends because it’s impersonal. It fails to recognize that a two-way connection is taking place and sends the message “I am not aware of you as a person”. One of the reasons traditional courtesies may have slipped in recent years might be that we spend so much time interacting with non-human things. You don’t have to ask a television to switch channels or thank a computer for recording your files. People who neglect manners, however, do so at their social and professional peril. Manners demonstrate an awareness of one’s social environment.

Even if no serious offence is taken, poor manners can still make someone appear less engaged in what’s happening around them and more caught up in their own world. In other words, good manners connect people to those around them, poor or bad manners can cause a separation. Imagine, for example, there is a small group of loud-talking cinema-goers disrupting the film for the rest of the audience. The auditorium is now split into an “us-and-them”. Whether they’re aware of it or not, the rowdy group has become isolated from the rest of the cinema community. Good manners are a code of common practice. What constitutes good manners can differ from group to group or culture to culture. Whatever the customs are, respecting them shows a desire to actively engage with a community and the people in it. Failing to adopt them sets you apart. We might forgive people who let their manners lapse, but we’ll feel more positive about and strongly connected to those who don’t.

There are three things that make up the basis for manners; they are consideration, common sense and customs. Abel Stevens says that politeness is the art that consists in choosing from someone’s own real thoughts. Customs constitute a habit of doing definite things such as shaking hands or tipping hats. Consideration is the most significant concept behind all good manners. Very often a considerate person has good manners. Consideration has a very simple definition; it consists in thinking about the way the other people feel. Almost all good manners have a component of common sense. For example, if you are in the back of an overcrowded elevator it is neither wisely nor good manners to make an attempt to push your way through the crowd to the exit in order to get out first.

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