Manners: Are they Obsolete?

A lot of what I write here is not so much to be advice but a bit of ‘hatting’ on life.  (Definition for ‘Hat’: the conditions or data to operate a job or post. From the days when one wore a hat(i.e. a conductor on a train) to be recognizable as to a particular function or job).
One of the things that I see missing in the world around us is manners.  I really don’t know if the word has taken on a bad meaning or if parents over the last couple of generations have just forgotten or not have had enough time or energy to teach some basic manners to their families. 

To me it is all about respect and caring.  If anyone ever has the thought that they don’t get respect, I would suggest they improve their manners – they may have to learn some.  Similar to learning how to operate a drill press or drive a car if you don’t know how.  You will be in big trouble if you try and operate one of those without knowing how.  Same with manners.

Like dressing nicely: One of my sons pointed out to me that this is should be done out of respect for the people you are with or visiting.  Not so much of ‘hey see how great I look’ as “I respect you and don’t want to look like a slob around you, I would rather help make your space look nicer…”. 

There are numerous ‘little’ actions that can make all the difference to the general tone of a society.  For example, who should hold the door for whom?  And there are hundreds of actions that are completely missing.  Like holding the chair at a restaurant for a woman or letting the oldest woman at a dinner table start eating before you start. 

I would say the people that don’t care about manners or think they are not important will generally have more trouble in social situations or at work and have more people pissed off at them. 

If you are having good manners around others and they don’t respond in kind, should you just stop being good mannered around them?  Not at all. Why should you lower your own personal integrity and respect for yourself, because they don’t have manners or respect for themselves or others? 

There is a fantastic article on ‘Opening Doors for Women’ on the Art of Manliness website.  This article is as important for women to read as it is for men.  It covers ‘respect’ and ‘working together’.  The article covers those awkward moments and double doors etc.
Read it here: Art of Manliness: Holding the Door for  a Woman

But then there is the question of who lets who go first when two people of same sex and different age approach a door…?

There are specific ways to do things in many cases and learning these things is not all that hard.  If you are not sure, err on the side of more respect for the other.

Things from saying hello to people. I generally don’t wait for them to originate or say hello first.  That kind of falls into a similar category as contacting someone you haven’t heard from in a while.  My mum’s view on this was to never, ever wait for someone to get in touch with you.  You’ll end up pretty lonely if you do.  Write a letter, make a phone call. 

I’ll post more on specific areas of manners – what is good and what is not but here is an important one:

When you get an email let the person know you received it.  Don’t just read it and move on with the idea you will come back to it.  If you find yourself doing this sort of thing a lot then don’t read them until you can take the time to respond.  Saves the person who sent you the communication following up to ask if you received it or to get his or her question answered.  If the email in question is just an informative one requiring no actual information in return, then just say: ‘Thanks, I got it.’

This is a huge one: When you go to someone’s house for dinner, or they pay for you or someone treats you in some manner or way, you would obviously thank them when you are done, at that time.  Well, also, the next day, send a communication thanking them again.  Be it a card, an email or a text.  This goes doubly for gifts. When someone actually sends you something, ALWAYS acknowledge the gift in some way.  For something like this, minimally an email, phone call or text, ideally a card – especially if the person is over 50 years old.

Again, it is all about respect and caring for the other person.  Something as simple as listening to the other person when they are saying something can make their day.

And don’t forget, when someone does anything like holds the door, moves out of your way or any such thing, say ‘Thank You”.
Have fun!

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Manners and Travel

My son and his girlfriend have gone to travel Europe for a year or two.  They have saved a bunch of money and have it arranged to work in the winter.  They told me they were going to visit Paris and stay for a bit about the same time that I spotted a book that interested me.  The book is called The Sweet Life in Paris.  I lived in the US for years and have always been curious about a sort of animosity between the French and the Americans.  I always thought that it was that they were BOTH so arrogant.  But I although I have been to the US and lived there, I have never been to or lived in France.  Now it may be the case that both the French and Americans are arrogant but I have also met many of both that are not.  Unless it is only the arrogant ones that travel.

David Lebovitz explains things a little better in his book mentioned above.  The problem is basically a difference in what is acceptable manners. Many people, and this is not only with Americans, do not find out what the local manners are when they travel.  Travel books really do not cover these points in a useful manner.  Even the way you greet someone – what is considered good manners – can be hugely different from one culture or country to another. 

David points out in an early chapter in his book that, for example, when you walk in to a store or any place of business in Paris that one should say hello to each person when you first arrive.  In America this is not done as a rule. In some places it is done but it would not be considered bad manners if you did not.  It would, though, if someone said hello to you and you did not return the greeting.  Asking something about a price or some such before doing this would be deemed improper.

In Paris it seems to be the responsibility of the person entering the place of business to initiate the greeting. 

I have found that in some other countries or cultures that a man does not approach a woman directly or commincate to a woman that he has not been introduced to.  He should have a relative or friend, someone that knows the woman already, introduce him before speaking to her. 

It really doesn’t help to think someone else’s customs or manners are stupid or silly.  When going to someone else’s country treat them with respect and learn what is appropriate and what is not. 

When I was in India an aquaintance of mine there expressed dismay at western women and their clothing.  It was hot there and many western women from North America and Europe would wear shorts and sometimes tank tops or sleeveless shirts.  He considered this terribly inappropriate.  It embarrassed him and made him very uncomfortable.  He was not the only one that felt this way.  I would say to people going to India to wear shirts that bear the shoulders – this for men and women. 

If it is too hot go in a cooler time of the year.  Or don’t go – go to a country that is more comfortable with this kind of attire. 

If you do not like to adapt your manners to the people you are visiting then I strongly suspect that do not like people.  You at the very least will not respect them. 

I assure you that learning the manners of an area will open doors that you never thought possible and make any traveling much more enjoyable.

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Road Manners

I have mentioned more than once in different places the wisdom of staying to the right on a highway or thoroughfare unless passing.  (It speeds up traffic.)   My youngest son passed his driver test the other day and in the days previous to that I was out with him and noticed then and since people uncertainties in certain situations on the road.  Here are a couple and the right way to behave:

1. At a four-way stop the person on the right has the right of way.  For example if two of you come up to the corner at the same time and you are right angles to each other, then the person on the right goes first. 

2. Coming in the opposite way to stop signs or lights, the person making the right hand turn has the right of way.  If you are making the left into the same lane or double lane with someone making the right into the same one(having come from the opposite direction) they go first.  Unless of course you have an Advanced Green light and they are at a red light.  Then the person coming through the light has the right of way.

More to come…

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Manners and Your Other Half

OK boys – here are a few pointers from the old man.

I hopefully have learned a few things from my various mistakes and falterings. One thing is manners (mostly learned from me mum) and how they help you grant importance to the person that you are with.

1. Always allow her to go first when the path narrows – unless of course there may be danger and then you should make sure that it is safe.
2. If you are driving and both going in the same car then open her side and let her in the car first at least 50% of the time.
3. Buy her flowers (flowers that she likes – ask her silly!) once in a while. This doesn’t have to be all the time – do it in such a way that it means something.
4. Help her on with her coat.
5. Hold the chair for her in a restaurant.
6. Wait until she starts eating before you do.
7. Listen – let her finish saying what she has to say. (Oh yeah – be honestly interested – that really helps!)
8. Never be mean and if you are (by mistake) always apologize. There is absolutely no percentage in being mean – ever!
9. Be romantic. It’s ok – you can still be the tough guy. For example, go to a chic flick and enjoy it. (Then go home and eat a steak.)
10. Notice things about her – new dress, haircut. Even if there is nothing new – tell her how beautiful she is – from the heart.
11. Which leads to the next one: never fail to communicate your undying love.
12. Do things with her that you both like. This can be a date at a nice restaurant, a coffee shop or a walk in the park. Even better is to go for a bike ride or go-karting or exploring or sailing or – well, something where you are doing something together. Not necessarily a movie – it is difficult to ‘be together’ at a movie. Do something like this without other friends. Just the two of you. Do this often.


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