by Swatee Jog
Youth is synonymous with enthusiasm, energy, freshness of ideas and fearlessness. But when you see these qualities manifest with a dash of arrogance and some airs bordering on brazenness, you know something is missing from all this youthful cheer. That missing aspect is sometimes the good manners. Manners are inculcated from childhood, through school and college. Much is talked about the impression that a well-mannered person makes. Why is it then that we frequently encounter youngsters who display minimal awareness about manners?
Humans are an evolved species. The faculty of speech has enhanced our quality of life like no other species in this world. It has also laid out certain rules and regulations in order to appear and sound polite, courteous, chivalrous or even plain kind, to others. Manners are this very action of everyday life that makes us appear ‘good’ and pleases the person we are interacting with.
Importance of manners:
Lessons in manners begin early in life. Parents teach the child to use golden words like ‘please’, ‘sorry’, ‘thank you’, ‘excuse me’, ‘may I’, etc. Students are expected to inculcate good manners from school days when the daily greeting of ‘Good morning teacher’ is fondly recalled long after school days are over. These manners are not just for school life but to be carried along throughout, even in your corporate life.
Manners are expressed in speech when the tone we speak in is genuinely polite and kind. The person we are interacting with picks up the feelings behind your speech and responds accordingly. Simple things like asking for a pen in a queue to fill a form can begin with “may I borrow your pen please?” which sounds far better than “Hey, give me that pen”
Students who unfailingly behave well -mannered get better response from their fellow students and faculty members. Teams perform better with leaders who are well-mannered and courteous because it eases tension, puts others at ease and irons out any misunderstandings between members. They are banked upon by their faculty members during crucial events for they have proved that they can take others along while getting the work done.
Persons with good manners appear courteous, caring for others and kind. They also come across as balanced. A person who immediately vacates his seat in the bus or train for the women or the elderly is looked at with respect by the fellow passengers. Making way for them in queues, helping them with their bags shows you are a genuinely good person.
Good manners are never situational. They have to be practiced every time, at school, office, homes, with friends, etc. Being punctual is one of them. Respect your time as also that of others around you. Keep your appointments to the dot, be present for the classes before the faculty enters, attend parties in time and don’t make the hosts wait for you. Genuine good manners and donning a mask of being good-mannered can be identified by others easily.
Don’t take people for granted. We share a lot of things with others, including the bus window or lights in the train, music at home, etc. Thinking about others’ comfort is paramount before we take these things for granted. Loudly talking in the train at night and enjoying with friends late into the night disturbs others sleeping.
Respecting women and the elderly goes a long way in shaping a person’s personality. Parents must inculcate this trait in their children from a small age. Helping them when they need, caring for their comfort and respecting them truly puts one into the right frame to be a good citizen.
Good mannered students stand out even in group discussions when one has to deal with a small group and yet stand out. Many times, candidates try to outsmart each other, dominating and even cutting the others’ sentences mid-way in an effort to look dynamic and aggressive. However, the HR professionals don’t get carried away with all the aggressiveness and the well-mannered candidate taking others along and using polite words to make a point, frequently stands out.
In this new age, manners have come to include Table Manners, Mobile Manners, Interview Manners, Meeting manners and more. Never beginning an answer with a negative word, not interrupting someone rudely, putting others’ comfort first as also respecting others’ opinion are all examples of good manners in the corporate world which can stand a person in good stead for leadership roles in the future.
Understanding cultural nuances of good manners is all the more important in today’s world. Something that is considered appropriate behavior in one place may be scorned at in another region or country. In an age when students routinely travel for education and employment, understanding the manners of the area is crucial.
How to imbibe good manners:
The process of imbibing good manners ideally begins from childhood. Parents, teachers at school, correct students when they go wrong and teach them the appropriate way of good behavior. However, at times, it may become necessary to understand good manners afresh when one’s behavior and lack of good manners comes under the scanner through informal feedback or personal observations. At other times, special circumstances may make it necessary to imbibe manners. At such times, it is always advisable to read literature, observe seniors carefully and see how they behave and the response that they get from their teams.
Make it a habit to never lose cool even in trying circumstances and to use polite words at all times. Practice this habit from home and it will become a way of life everywhere. It requires some conditioning of the mind to change our behavior initially.
Watch videos of personalities like Narayan Murthy, Bill Gates or Ratan Tata and understand how they behave and carry themselves amidst statesmen, journalists or even when they interact with laymen or school children. Their behavior never changes, nor do they lose cool and always respect others. Try to inculcate these qualities in everyday life.
Make a note of frequent everyday situations and jot down the ideal pleasantries, greetings, initiating words or appropriate answers. Practice with friends or before a mirror to get the tone and body language perfect. Good manners come into picture while asking questions, replying to others’ questions, criticizing, greeting, reporting, praising, etc.
Following good manners makes us confident, pleasing, friendly and socially acceptable. It also helps us break ice with new teams or with strangers. In a fiercely competitive world, a person who has all the capabilities and one who is well-mannered is much valued. Good manners must never be practiced with the benefits in mind but must become a part of your personality and a way of life.