Over the years I’ve read through a number of books that explain how we should act when it comes to manners and etiquette. I recall reading Miss Manners and Emily Post and Ann Landers and Dear Abby. Some reveal attitudes, mores, styles, ethics or religious-based tenets on how to treat one another or act in a given situation. Some were detailed on how to do the small things while others focus on the core of how we really interact with fellow humans. I had the pleasure to skim through a breezy new handbook, Manners That Matter Most: The Easy Guide To Etiquette At Home And In The World by June Eding.
Such a book will always be needed because people don’t always do what’s right. We have become self-centered, selfish, or ignorant and unaware of the world around us. The younger generations need to be told the rules of the road and older people need reminders of how to acknowledge and treat others.
Manners aren’t necessarily about how to dress or speak, though they could be, but rather they are about what we say and do and how we treat people around us. Are you talking loudly on your cellphone in a restaurant? Are you cutting people off on the highway? Do you gossip about others? Do you fail to clean up your messes? Do you take other people’s schedules and circumstances into consideration?
“Having good manners means thinking about other people and treating them with kindness and respect,” writes Eding. “It doesn’t take much, but small actions make a big difference. In the course of a busy day, simple gestures reassure the people we interact with that we are taking them into consideration and doing what we can to make things more pleasant. For those we know and love, employing good manners solidifies our relationship and shows others how much we appreciate them.
“These small kindnesses make our lives easier. They take the anxiety out of living in a world where we are constantly meeting new people and encountering new faces. They help make our relationships at home, at work, and among friends more rewarding.”
She says practicing good manners does not have to be a chore or complicated.
“Simple actions make a big impact,” she writers. “Show up on time (or apologize sincerely if we’re late), serve someone else before we serve ourselves at a table, or hold the door open for someone if their hands are full. These actions form a portrait in someone else’s mind of who we really are: A considerate, thoughtful person.
“Having good manners means understanding that we all want respect and kindness, and striving to do what we can to ensure other people are treated well.”
So how do manners apply to our modern life that increasingly revolves around on-demand technology? Do we behave poorly at work or home because we have zeroed in on a handheld device while shunning human contact? Do all of the work-at-home employee change how and when work is done? Are global communications and business dealings impacting how we treat each other?
She says we shouldn’t take those we love for granted nor should we skip the pleasantries with others, such as saying “please” or “thank you.” She offers tips on how to treat family members and roommates with respect (don’t yell across the house) and reminds us to do things like chores, acknowledging the efforts of another, and not to talk to people with barriers, such as through a bathroom door.
The section on table manners, from how to hold a fork to banning devices, are useful reminders, as are her tips for hosting a dinner party, how to be a considerate guest, and how to have engaging conversations.
Behaving properly is not always easy but can be quite rewarding. “Manners help us make the most of those moments,” she states. “They remind us to keep a cool head when a minor annoyance arises, refrain from criticizing someone, or hold back from going on at length about our frustrating day. With these interruptions set aside, we can enjoy a more meaningful encounter with others.”
The main portion of her book centers on 25 habits or principles, including:
· Take the time to be polite – don’t rush
· Express gratitude the right way
· Offer to help and provide a kind word or gesture
· Listen carefully and often
· Teach by example
· Be a person of your word
· Respect other people’s space
· Be appreciative
· Smile and be friendly
· Get back to people promptly
· Know when to apologize meaningfully
· Keep your problems to yourself
· Don’t boss others
One maxim that stuck out was “treat yourself well.” She said: “I don’t practice bad manners when it comes to how you treat yourself” and “think of yourself as another person.” She notes if you keep scolding or berating yourself you will not be in a strong position to practice sensitivity toward those around you.
The concluding principle, Don’t Assume Honesty Is The Best Policy, is one I will need to pay more attention to. She warned that sharing your opinions is not always welcomed, writing: “Having good manners doesn’t mean you have to lie or be dishonest. It just means respecting another person’s feelings and putting those feelings first. Your honest opinion might save someone from some serious trouble, but if your words will harm, insult, or injure another person, skip it.”
But don’t skip this book! It is a pleasant reminder of how we should be treated and treat others. If we all read this book we’d hopefully find a little more effort in acting better towards one another. As the new year approaches and you reflect on what you want to change, eliminate, add, or accomplish, think about how you act towards others. If you improve upon your relationships and social interactions you will contribute to a better world.
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014
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