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The Beauty of Good Manners

January 18, 2020
On Saturdays we talk about Inner beauty

Welcome to Dressed for My Day, sweet gal! Happy weekend to you. It may not be a popular topic, but today I thought we’d talk about the beauty of good manners. But before we start the conversation, let’s go ahead and put away our pointing fingers. Ha! This is one of those topics that tempts us to evaluate other people rather than look inward.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

What’s the big deal about good manners?

Yesterday I was getting a bite to eat at a rather pricey little restaurant. I had ordered the cheapest thing I could find, but I know other people had paid a pretty penny for their meals. So I was a little surprised at some of the things going on around me.

Someone was allowing their child to play a very loud video game on their phone or handheld device a few booths over. And several women got up from their table to leave, but instead positioned themselves between several other tables for a rather lengthy and boisterous conversation. I wondered how the people around me who were trying to have softer toned conversations could focus with these distractions going on.

Of course, I’ve probably been guilty of interrupting the ambiance in similar situations myself. So I’m not casting stones. But these honestly rude behaviors got me to thinking about good manners. Have we lost the concept?

I certainly hope not. Good social graces are so much more than a list of do’s and don’ts.

Good manners are beautiful because…

I think etiquette is one of those things we don’t notice so much until it’s missing. For instance, I didn’t necessarily pick up on the gracious behaviors of those around me who were indeed using good manners. But I certainly noticed when someone was loud and their behaviors were interrupting the conversations around them.

But then, that’s kind of what having good manners is all about. When we use good manners we don’t draw attention to ourselves. Instead, we make the person or people around us feel respected, seen and even appreciated.

How to practice good manners

Look, we’re grown women. You don’t need a lecture in manners and I’m certainly not qualified to give you one. But I do think it would do us all good to simply think about the source of good manners. In the end, I think if we get things right at the root, we’ll generally default to gracious behavior as long as we’ve learned some proper etiquette somewhere along the way.

In order to practice good manners consistently, I need to turn my focus off of myself and consider other people’s feelings.

Don’t you think that’s true? For instance, when I’m more concerned about the other person, I’ll…

  • chew my food with my mouth closed
  • keep my tone of voice at a considerate level
  • acknowledge other people when I walk into a room
  • call people by their name and look them in the eyes
  • introduce people to each other and share with them something they have in common
  • not interrupt the other person when they’re still speaking
  • open the door for a young mom who has her hands full
  • return the phone call in a timely manner
  • put my cell phone away when having coffee with a friend
  • etc.

How do we develop this inner awareness that leads us to practice good manners?

And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

~ Luke 6:31

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

~ Philippians 2:4

Honestly, it’s a choice. Both of the scriptures above remind us that we have a choice to focus on ourselves or others. But God calls us to treat other people graciously out of consideration. Why? Because that is God’s heart.

Join the conversation

I really didn’t mean to write even as much as I did here. I am certainly not qualified to be the etiquette police! Instead, I thought I’d ask you to help me out here today.

Remember, let’s put down our pointy fingers. Hahaha! So we don’t need to slam society as a whole or a younger generation as the villains. I imagine those women who stopped in the middle of the restaurant yesterday to have their loud conversation are all wonderful women with kind and beautiful hearts. They simply got caught up in the moment. We’ve probably all done the same thing.

But I’d love it if you would share a point of etiquette that especially communicates polite consideration to you. What have you noticed someone else do recently that showed you a gracious heart, a beautiful thoughtfulness? Or what little act of etiquette consistently means the most to you?

Be sure to read the other comments. I’d love it if we didn’t duplicate. The more ideas, the merrier. Ready, set, go!

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xoxo, Kay
Join the Conversation

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36 thoughts on “The Beauty of Good Manners

  1. In this era of what looks like addiction to devices, to me, silencing the phone and keeping it in a purse or pocket when we are having lunch, coffee, etc., with someone speaks volumes. We are placing the importance of the person above that of the device. This is truly a problem today. I find it sad to see families out eating and the kids are silently eating while both parents are looking at their phones. This isn’t pointing fingers, it’s a real problem in our society. Or when you see little kids on phones playing games while others at the table are chatting together. This teaches the kids nothing about manners or being part of a conversing group. Our obsession with phones and devices is changing behavior in a negative way. I think to silence the phone, put it away and give attention to the person or persons you are with shows that they really are important to you and worth listening to and interacting with. I just see this as a big problem and a deterrent to good manners.

  2. When someone is talking and sharing something personal, there can be a temptation to insert yourself into the conversation: “That happened to me! One time I did the same…!” Sometimes people think they are just trying to relate. But active listening is a gift to someone. A chance to hear their story and ask them to tell you more. Instead of “I do, I saw, I think, I went” practice good manners and allow the focus to be on the person sharing.
    I certainly realize there are times to insert yourself into a conversation. But I think great manners suggest that when someone wants to share or tell a story – let them! No “butting in” and changing the focus. Just my thinking for today! Have a great Saturday everyone!

    1. This was the first thing that came to mind
      when I read the segment about manners!! Very
      well stated!! This is such a pet peeve for me that
      it has made me a better listener!

  3. This is an excellent post! Wherever you go, folks are checking their devices, not even watching where they are walking (or driving!). Good manners, which actually translates into concern for others as you pointed out, seems to be on the wane. I also consider looking decent when you walk out of the house good manners.

  4. I agree with you completely! It is impossible to have a meaningful conversation with so much going on around you. Nothing says rude like playing a game, taking a phone call, or texting.. When I was still teaching, cell phones were a huge problem. I have no solution to this problem. Except to provide a good model of the behavior expected. Sadly, young parents and others model the negative behaviors.
    I have gently reminded my own “grown” children to put their phones away during visits.

  5. Please remember to RSVP. And to always write your Thank You cards and MAIL them as soon as possible. It lets the other person know that you believe their event is important and that their gift was truly appreciated.

    1. Yes! I love this because I was definitely taught to write thank you notes, but when I remember that it’s about respect for the other person I’m even more motivated to do so. And yes on those RSVPs too. ?

    2. Amen. This really opens peoples eyes too. They cant imagine buying a card and a stamp and writing by hand something so special to that person.

  6. This is a great post and clearly strikes a chord with your readers. Like others, I notice how phones, social media and technology impact how we interact with others. It is a great temptation to just zone out with your tech devices, missing out on great conversation nd interaction.

  7. Great reminder that good manners matter! Being respectful of others and your surroundings matters! Technology is making this a lost art and we need to find a way to bring back good manners!! Everyone expects to be entertained all the time – we need to focus on others and remember that we all share public spaces!

  8. I couldn’t agree more…..It is not just in a restaurant. Use good manners ALL the time. Please, thank you, how are you today? , hold the door, let someone go ahead of you. Use good manners ALL the time to the gas station attendant, custodians-thank you for keeping our school clean, check out people, co-workers. I work with children and we have to model for them as some of their parents do not! Whenever a student is especially polite I always thank them for using their manners. I make a BIG deal about it. I told my children when I was raising them, there is NO excuse for bad manners, even if you don’t agree with someone. It seems like manners are a lost art. I could go on……..

  9. Last night my husband and I were leaving a family restaurant and a young man walked in as we were nearing the door. He immediately stepped back and held the door open for us as we exited. Small gestures like this are the foundation of good manners. Of course we thanked him which again emphasizes politeness and good manners. (I’ve held doors many times and haven’t even received an acknowledgment!)

  10. The older we get, the harder it gets to remember someone’s name you just met…I.e. in church. My husband and I always make it a habit to repeat the persons name and then when church is over we repeat their names back and forth to each other to get it commented into our memory. Sometimes that works but if one of us forgets, the other one usually remembers! Ha! Main thing is to repeat the persons name out loud when meeting them for the first time. That usually works!

    1. I love this Sondra. My mom always impressed upon me the importance of addressing people by their names. But sometimes I use the wrong name because I’ve got so many names in my head at this point! ?

  11. Kay, I know you don’t want repeats, but I am really having a difficult time dealing with the fact that I have been to two weddings and several birthday parties recently and have not received Thank You notes from any of them. I must say that all of the people are younger than I am. Perhaps the younger generation doesn’t feel a need to say Thank You? But it’s a sad day if that is true!!

  12. If you can call before visiting, it would be nice. How many times are we late because of unexpected company or you’re sick and don’t actually feel like company. These are wonderful people with good hearts but a phone call might still be a good idea. Everyone has a cell phone theses days unlike in the good old days, so it just seems to me to be common courtesy.

  13. Today I went to the post office and we have a very small area to park, it’s actually a driveway. I saw there was a woman pulling in behind me so I pulled up as far as I could so she could get in. She thanked me for that and then held the door open for me since my
    hands were full with packages. It really made my frustration with the small parking area disappear! Just two small gestures , one from each of us, but what a huge impact. Manners are everything in my book.

  14. Great post today, Kay. Here’s my tip…responding with kindness is always a choice. In your restaurant situation, I may have said to the chatty women, ‘excuse me, but your conversation is becoming loud, do you realize that?” Those key words at the end give the person somewhere to go…’oh, I’m so sorry’ is where they should go. With social media, our society seems to call out people when they make a mistake and I think this is wrong. We can be gracious and try not to embarrass people.

  15. Expressing gratitude with sincerity if a form of good manners. Meeting someone’s eyes and saying thank you with a smile, not just automatically thanking them in a distracted monotone, respects and uplifts them. A little wave in the rearview mirror to someone who has let you merge in traffic ahead of them, noticing the little things others do for you as part of their jobs, and noticing what your friends and family do for you are all opportunities to sincerely Express your gratitude.

  16. Wonderful post today, Kay. And so many great comments. In my mind, being more thoughtful about the people around us, and less self-centered is the core to good manners. I know I need to be reminded of that.

  17. Here’s one I never thought of until I married a dear man with asthma: sometimes we’re not aware of how much the scented products we wear affect others who have allergies or respiratory issues. My husband has been driven out of church, concerts, and restaurants because of people’s cologne or perfume. He literally can’t breathe. The worst time was on an airplane when a lady in front of us was enveloped in a cloud of perfume. Even my eyes were stinging, and my husband had to use his inhaler several times. I even once caused him a severe attack when we were dating by wearing scented lotion. Our church has tried to go fragrance free, but many people continue to ignore the request.

  18. A situation we have had happen to us 3 times in a short period of time: we asked the three different couples over for a meal. We set a time, and then, later, sometimes on very short notice, we receive a cancellation because something “Better“ has come along. I think in every case, it was free tickets someone offered them to a sporting event, and not expensive tickets to a professional event, but a local event. I would never think of canceling an invitation to someone’s home for dinner to accept another offer, no matter what it was. That is just bad manners.

  19. I love to let obviously working people (wearing a uniform, etc) go before me when in a line to order food. I’m retired and have plenty of time…usually! Younger people, especially young men, really appreciate it.

  20. These are all great points and reminders. I just want to add that I am really enjoying your Saturday inner beauty posts. Thank you!

  21. I like to help someone out in a parking lot if they are emptying a cart. I can put it in one of the stalls for them or I can take it in the store and use it. No one ever turns my help down and they always seem to genuinely appreciate it. Also, letting someone check out in front of you if they only have a few items is very thoughtful. I always appreciate that!

  22. I love this post! I work so hard to instill good manners in my children and it pays off when they put them to use without reminders! I think social media – and technology in general – has caused us to falter with manners because we can be kind of “anonymous” when communicating with others, especially if we don’t really know them in person. But that makes it that much nicer when people DO display good manners! When my kids were little and I used a stroller, there were numerous times I struggled to get through a door in a public place. Many times, someone went through it ahead of me and didn’t even notice and let the door slam in my face. But many, many more times, people would go out of their way to hold a door for me. I always thanked them profusely and I always pay attention for chances to do the same for others. Really, good manners are about making others more comfortable, so if I’m ever in doubt about what to do, I consider what would make someone’s day easier or more pleasant. There’s always time for kindness!

  23. I LOVE this post! How about being punctual? Yes, everyone has an occasion that they are a bit late. However, habitually late people are simply telling others, “my time is more important than yours.” Being on time is courteous and a show o good manners! I have truly enjoyed reading all of the comments!

  24. I was especially touched by a gentleman that saw someone give a stare that I was in the way. I was newly on the walker so this attitude particularly bothered me that day. The older gentlemen looked at me then looked at the person who had given “the look” and shrugged his shoulders and gave me a little wink. He was probably in his nineties so there was nothing flirtatious in the wink at all. Just a moment of understanding of people thinking we’re in the way. A moment of compassion in this world is not something I would normally think of as good manners but it really can be.