Good manners were taught to me from an early age. Those early lessons have paid dividends as I have got older.
From an early age my sisters and I were brought up to say please and thank you. In fact people always commented to my parents on how polite we all were.
These early lessons were extremely important. And I believe they are just as important today.
Saying please and thank you is one of the most important ways we can show good manners.
5 Valuable Lessons on Manners
So I thought that I would share with you 5 of the lessons taught to me by my parents and how they have helped me in life. I would like to add that I did learn a lot more, but 5 seems like a good number to start with!
- Don’t leave the table until everyone has eaten
- Never tell someone to ‘shut-up’
- Be Honest
- At the end of a party, find the host and say ‘thank you for having me’
- · If you want something, work for it.
I believe that all these lessons combined are good manners. It is no surprise then that one of my values in life is around manners.
Having good manners is more than just a social nicety. It is a fundamental way to prove to others that you view them with respect.
In fact, I believe that these principles have helped me to become the person that I am today.
So let’s dig into the five lessons I was taught.
Don’t leave the table until everyone has eaten
Living in a family of six meant that when we sat down for meal times they could be pretty noisy. In fact some of my best memories are eating with the family and catching up on the day’s news. It is a great way to connect.
But, we all ate at different rates.
The rule that no-one could leave the table meant that we had to wait for the slowest eater. Frustrating if you wanted to get off and do something.
I tended to eat quite quickly, but was slowed down by the amount of talking that I did – not a shock to those that know me!
But good manners taught me
But good manners taught me
- Be patient with those who may not be as quick as you
- People will always go at their own pace, you cannot hurry them along
- Eating is a social occasion and something to be enjoyed and savoured
Even now, I have to sit at a table to eat. I don’t enjoy sitting in front of the television. Plus there are benefits to sitting at a table to eat. See my post on How Habits Can Help You Lose Weight where I talk about the benefits of sitting at the table.
Never Tell Anyone To Shut-Up
Growing up, telling someone to ‘shut-up’ was like using the ‘F’ word. And believe me when I say, my mum could hear that word even if it was whispered in a shut room at the opposite end of the house. Ok we didn’t have a big house, but you get my point.
Telling someone to shut-up was a big sin. It is saying to that person that what they have to say is not important. They are not worth listening to and their view is not relevant. Good manners means listening.
Let People Speak
In adult life I have often wanted to ‘shut people up’. But I have discovered that by letting people speak I can understand where they are coming from. Whatever their view, it gives me an insight into what is important to them. It’s telling them that they are important to me and that I am listening.
My exception to this is anyone who makes discriminatory remarks. I am not prepared to listen in those instances. It literally makes my blood boil.
My mum is so honest. If she were to park on a double yellow line even if it was an emergency. She would go to the police station and report her crime. I would like to add that my mum has never parked on a yellow line.
And if you had been naughty. Wow. If you tried to hide it, my dad could get it out of you in an instance. All he would say is ‘look me in the eye and say that again’. Those eyes could see into your very soul. Even now I can never lie to my dad.
But this concept of honesty is one that has stayed with me.
I cannot lie. I tried it, but it just makes me feel really uncomfortable and I have an urge to confess immediately.
Honesty Is more than just good manners
Being honest is not just good manners. It means that I am always honest with people even if sometimes it is difficult for them to hear. At these times I chose my words carefully. But my honesty is something that I hold dear. As a result I am trusted in what I do and friends know that if they want an opinion I will always be honest about it.
Also I am honest with myself. I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses. This is liberating.
Thank You For Having Me
At the end of every party, visit to a friend’s house for tea, my mum always insisted we say that little phrase. ‘Thank you for having me’
This little gesture is acknowledging someone’s hospitality but also their effort. A sign of good manners.
Uses in adult life
I use this in my adult life a lot. But not just for parties – even though the parties I go to these days don’t include goody bags! Oh, who am I kidding? I don’t actually go to that many parties anymore.
Saying thank you to an organiser at the end of an event you have attended is good manners. But it is also a great networking technique. Taking time to seek someone out and acknowledge their effort, plays huge dividends.
Hidden benefits of manners
On many occasions when I have gone to say thank you, I’ve fallen into conversation about the event. As a result I have gained new knowledge from the organiser. It is also a great way to ensure that you’re invited to the next event. And it is never a bad thing to leave a good impression with someone. You never know where or when they could next turn up in your life.
If You Want Something You Have To Work For It
My parents were grafters. To provide a home for us all they worked hard. When we were younger, my dad would work days and my mum worked nights.
We were not rich, we didn’t have lots of luxuries. But we did have everything that we needed. When money was tight, my dad would take on extra jobs. He even did a stint as a Football Pools collector to bring in extra cash.
My parents were an example to us. They worked for what they wanted.
Turning up on time and doing a good day’s work is showing good manners to your employer as well as yourself.
This work ethic is a bit of a mixed bag for me. Especially as I ended up burnt out and having to take a break from work.
But the principle stays strong. These days I have learnt to work smarter rather than longer hours. I still believe that if you work for something you will appreciate it more. A lot of the lessons come in the journey rather than the end result.
Working for something gives you a sense of pride. It gives you belief in yourself that couldn’t be achieved in any other way.
These five lessons that my parents taught me have been influential in my life. As much as when I was little to now being an adult.
So there you have it. As well as minding your ‘Ps’ and Qs’, good manners are a valuable lesson to learn.
Good manners do put you in a good position when dealing with others. They are not just a social nicety. There are so many advantages to you for practicing them.
I could not leave this post without saying a big thank you to my parents.
Thank you for the safe and loving home you provided. Thank you for all the valuable lessons that you taught me. And thank you for being you.
But I end this post with a request. Notice that I said please
I would love to have your thoughts on what I have written. What is your view on manners? In what way do you think manners have made you a better person? Or, let me know a nugget of great learning that you had as a child which has helped you into adulthood.
I love to hear what you think
PS – An Extra Nugget Of Fun
I came across a great article written by the Telegraph. It gives the whole history of manners. You can access it here. My particular favourite is from the Dutch scholar Erasmus. He offered a wealth of precise advice on manners including to ‘cough in order to mask flatulence’. Advice from the 16th century which is still relevant today!