How to have good manners?

A daughter hugging her elderly mother.

Every person should have the best of manners. Their genuine love for others should prompts us to be gentle, courteous and kind behavior

Good manners cost nothing and are worth everything. Manners, strangely enough, are oftentimes timely words fitly spoken.

To say the right thing at the proper moment is an art. It must be natural, from the heart, to be beautiful. It must be spontaneous and sincere if it is to be accepted.

Otherwise, it will sound flat, insincere, and it will most likely be considered flattery, which is an insult and not a compliment.

Rules of etiquette may change like fashions and are different in almost every nation; yet good manners are the same throughout the world.

Why people have bad manners


Vanity, a sour disposition, a longing for sympathy, and a want of good common sense are the chief sources from which bad manners spring.

Vain people want others to think highly of them, yet they seldom think of others. Their thoughts are always on themselves. Vanity leads to self-consciousness.

To be thoughtful of others, to give attention to their feelings, is the essence of politeness. But an ill-mannered person is often loud, boastful and proud in the praises of himself and his family.

Also, ill-mannered is he who boasts of his achievements in business, looks down upon people who are less fortunate than he, and, as a rule, cannot refrain from having his joke at the expense of another’s reputation.

It is difficult to judge the quality of an egg by its outward appearance. So too, it is not wise to judge people too much by their external manner.

Some people have little to wear; others have ill health, or are oppressed and depressed. Nevertheless, we cannot expect people in general to take time to see whether we are what we seem to be.

Everyone can be clean. We can speak right things from the heart. We can be friendly, hospitable, kind and courteous. We can be ourselves. We can be honest and polite.

These things do not cost anything. They are free. They are for everyone to have—the rich and the poor alike.

Good manners towards all


A well-mannered person is courteous to all kinds of people and under all conditions.

He is respectful to his “inferiors” (children, mentally ill, less fortunate, etc.), as well as to his equals (his brothers) and those he regards as his “superiors” (servants in special capacity, rulers, kings and governors).

His good manners are not reserved for the few who can pay for them, or who make themselves feared. Like the warm summer sun his kindness and courtesy are for all alike

While it is common practice to treat strangers with more courtesy than friends or family, surely they do not deserve any more in the way of good treatment than those whom we love, do they?

Our family and our associates should be even more entitled to considerate treatment than outsiders.

Some think good manners are a coat that you put on when you go out to visit with people. But a truly well-mannered person is one who behaves properly all the time.

The place to teach and to learn the best of manners is in the home.

A family is a delicate machine whose parts are in intimate contact with one another. Only expert lubrication can keep it in smooth running order.

Knowing how to be helpful and courteous, pleasant and polite will go a long way to make a happy home.

Learning how to say the accepted, everyday expressions of courtesy and consideration will do much to eliminate destructive friction in our associations. These are little words with big meanings.

Everyone can say them properly. They cost us nothing, but with them we buy friends.

If we practice good manners daily they will not leave us when we need them most, that is, when we are away from home in public.

Table manners


A sure test of one’s good manners is when he eats. Does he know when to begin? How to begin? What to say and how to say it?

How to eat in accord with the custom of his country, in the way that is accepted there as polite? When to stop?

Mealtime is a time of joy, a time of association; it is a happy occasion. It is not bound by a long list of ridiculous rules, nor is it disorderly. It is a cheerful time when all are helpful and considerate of one another.

After the food is prepared, indeed the food is to be eaten. But no one should grab for the food. They should politely help themselves when their turn comes.

The amount of food to be taken does not depend on the size of one’s appetite, but the size of the family and the amount of food on hand.

A very ill-mannered and greedy person will take more than he can eat or take a large portion and leave others with little or nothing to eat.

Eating in a way offensive to others, disregarding rules of proper eating customs of the country you live in—all these violations done in the privacy of one’s own home, but can cause one to commit errors when in company of others.

This may evoke remarks such as, “Oh! What poor table manners.” One should indeed stand above such reproach.

Manners in appearance and speech


It is courteous to try always to look neat. If you are well groomed and always tidy, you speak well of yourself and of your associates. You are showing love and consideration for others.

A person observing you may have no opportunity to speak to you, but he will never forget that you were (if you were) pleasing to the eye.

A friendly greeting, whether it be a handshake or an embrace or some other customary greeting, and a smile go well with any style of dress that we might wear.

Profanity does not add to one’s good reputation, nor do slang expressions.

Vulgar expressions are becoming common. Words once used only by degenerates are now used by some persons in all grades of society. But a well-mannered person must guard against such speech.

Words are dangerous tools. A person who is well mannered will not call his fellow human being a fool, or stupid, or other uncomplimentary names.

Some think themselves so well-born, so clever, or so rich, as to be above caring what others say and think of them. They take their position as a license for rudeness.

It is foolish for one to “freeze up” or to roll oneself into a prickly ball on the approach of strangers. A courteous person must be a conversationalist, a talker and a person who loves people.

Manners during meetings and gatherings


When attending a formal or social meeting, it is ill-mannered to come late. By being courteous we shall be considerate of the speaker and the audience.

Mothers with children will find it more convenient to sit toward the rear of the hall and near the aisle; so that when the children may find it necessary to leave it will not be so distracting to the speaker or those in attendance.

Whispering or giggling during a lecture is distracting to others. Meetings are where people come to learn, to worship and to serve. Here of all places manners should be at their very best.

Conclusion


In this world starved for kindness, for a little courtesy and politeness, let us be found generously casting our deeds of hospitality and good manners upon others, because so much of it does return.

And the casting in itself is so pleasant and easy and inexpensive. It is so easy to smile and to be agreeable, and even to do the small, kindly things, that there is no excuse for not doing them.

And, besides, it is these little kindly things we do each day for one another that promote the beauty of living for everyone.

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