Good Manners Have No Strings
Manners don’t have to be thinly disguised acts of guile. Far from it. Though it’s kind of disturbing to know that people think that way, it’s common.
As they say “Flattery will get you anywhere” and no doubt there’s some truth in that. But manners are infinitely more than a calculated ploy to stroke egos.
To me, manners are an expression of who we are because you show yourself by the manners you apply. In that light, being well mannered takes on a different spin that I find thought provoking.
I’m happy to show kindness and good manners. What’s more, I feel it allows me to define myself to everyone else. Does that mean I’m superhumanly good? Hardly. But I do know that applying an interest in others helps shape our actions into something better.
Given my happy theme, I like experimenting with manners. Just to see how people receive them. By:
- Inviting someone to jump ahead of me in a queue
- Holding a door for people to get through
- Giving way to folk in traffic, and
- Saying personal thank you’s when folk show any semblance of effort
…I find, repeatedly, that people are grateful. Of course, some barge on regardless, oblivious to their social surroundings. But most folk respond and it’s fascinating to see how.
Just a minimal display of manners can elicit the most intense gratitude, and even stunned surprise. But whether people respond or not, I’m do it for myself as a reminder of my own capabilities.
Yet, time and again I have heard people say, “What’s the point of being polite? Others don’t appreciate it anyway” and I find that such a telling question.
Although we all intrinsically know this, showing good manners, kindness, courtesy, and such like actually doesn’t need a reaction at all. So why do so many of us get stuck on this fickle factor?
I believe many of us have forgotten our inner dignity. In that space, we make decisions and behave in ways that affirm who we are to ourselves. No other rewards or gratitude is necessary when you sustain your own dignity.
Your actions and your intentions behind them are a wonderful reward that is hard to ignore (even if you spend most of your time whipping yourself for all your failings). Manners become therapy. Kindness becomes proof of your beliefs and, best of all, it doesn’t need the slightest grunt of thanks from anyone.
But, some people will appreciate what you do, and that puts the cherry on top of any act of good manners: unnecessary, but lovely all the same.
Compared to the mercenary fawning and Gollum-like pawing that some people use, good manners expressed for dignity’s sake is completely freeing. By teaching yourself more about the good you can do, others will begin to notice, and perhaps look up to you.
Those with ulterior motives of usury are missing something big. Manners are most powerful when we can believe in the good that we do. And, that can only happen when manners are applied without a hint of strings. Whether others appreciate them of not, you do, and that’s all the proof you need to know that manners matter.
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