More than simple politesse, manners are the “instruction guide” for us humans. Indeed, manners matter even MORE today than in the past. Machines cannot be geared for manners, nor conscientiousness. As AI becomes ubiquitous, the importance of human behaviour will increase in utility.
Friction is caused by two objects moving against each other. Manners are what we have created to lubricate and lessen the friction, no small feat. None of us are born with civility; we learn how to behave from repetition and social norms.
More than the rule of law, observing and using manners allows us to cooperate, listen, engage, and live a proper life. What could be more important than that. And yet..
The manners doyenne, Emily Post, defined manners as :
“..A sensitive awareness of the feelings of others.If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”
Here are my 10 points for day-to-day manners–in work or outside.
Good manners are when you:
- Can put up with those who lack them.
- Understand the difference between a compliment and flattery; how to deliver the former and minimise the latter.
- Discern a healthy ego from boastfulness; the mature and the immature. The former has made or proven the point, whereas the latter must repeatedly remind.
- State your perspective respectfully. A conversation is not a sumo match to shove someone out of the dohyo. It’s dialogue, from which everything emanates.
- Hold your tongue. Don’t say what you want because “you had to get it off your chest”. (That’s immaturity, masquerading in an adult body..). It is much harder to shut up, even if for a short time.
- Refrain from interrupting or finger jabbing to make a point. Matt Lauer is the new poster of that, deservedly so. Let it go, listen a little bit longer, and ask if you’re not sure of the protocol.
- Lessen the verbal wrist-flicking of “You don’t really know as much as I do” attitude. It never ceases to amaze that people who know little about a subject become instant experts, and along the way lose their deportment.
- Tamp down the facial expressions of “I can’t believe you said that”(best done by a 13 year old, often emulated by adults) look. If unsure, re-read #7.
- Thank people, regardless of who they are or their status. We all swim in the same waters. Absolutely no one is above thanking others, whether it is serving a cup of coffee or a legal writ..
- Know how to apologise-and damned fast. The obligatory apology needed to get on with the work at hand, whether to a colleague, stranger or family member. This alone deserves a blog of its own, as the importance of apologising (not the diplomatic world of ‘regret’) is a valuable one.
In the words of Rabbi A J Heschel, “When I was young, I admired clever people. As I grew old, I came to admire kind people.”
Neal Horwitz is an Asian based career management coach, and the author of The Art of The Smart, How to Steer Your Career.
The book can be purchased on Amazon here
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