The Ultimate Answer to Manners
“For goodness sake, take your elbows off the table! And, stand up straight”. Whether you know when to smile at the right time, bow, or send the proper reply, manners will always be a big deal.
Cross over class lines and manners change drastically. Jump into a jet and head to another country and, suddenly, manners become a mystery.
Not surprisingly, copious books have been written on the matter. While, it seems every nation has professional experts who the media interview whenever matters on behavior become an issue. How, for example, should you deal with a Queen? What is the protocol for meeting dignitaries from a foreign land? And what is the proper way to deal with a wedding speech?
You could end up dizzy trying to find every ounce of nous about etiquette. Modern life is just too complicated to cover every occasion properly educated. But there is a way that works.
True, it won’t make you a protocol professional, remarkable and acclaimed on every occasion. Yet, it will give you lee room and invite others to afford you greater acceptance.
How do you garner this goodwill? By putting yourself into other people’s shoes and living with consideration and kindness. After all, these are the underpinnings of what good manners are about.
So if you traipse through a Thai or Japanese home with your shoes on (which, happens to be a rather rude thing to do), the rest of your behavior will come into question. If you are kind, gracious, accepting of your errors and contrite, it’s likely the residents will accept that you didn’t mean to offend.
At its heart, understanding the needs and hopes of others is what manners are about. Nothing comes close to genuine empathy and respect on the protocol front. So how come we don’t make that our priority?
Maybe, it’s easier to rush to rules, steps, and tips, than to consider the bigger picture. “Try 9 ways to be a more polite person” “Five ways to get respect”. That sort of thinking implies “I don’t want to think this through. I only want to know what to do” and keeps people insecure about this whole area we call decorum.
Yet, you and I decide how to behave based on obvious stated expectations plus a much lengthier list of unspoken considerations (like: it’s not considered acceptable to take a running leap onto people’s sofa when you’re invited into their sitting room). You know this, even though you’ve never read it anywhere, though there are always more hidden codes to know than experience reveals.
Fortunately, aside from being very clever about such unwritten rules, your consideration for others makes manners natural. So, never disparage yourself for what you lack in this regard. Just keep on treating people well. For it will more than compensate for our inevitable faux pas and help other people appreciate your best intentions.
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