I want to begin today’s post with this: manners are definitely not overrated and chivalry is not dead.
Does it ever strike you that people are too busy to be polite or practice proper manners these days? How many times do you actually see people give up their seats on public transport, hold doors open for people or even say please and thank you to those serving them at the supermarket checkout. No - people sit, in their own little world, chatting loudly on their phones in public, not caring who overhears. They maintain friendships over Facebook and email, they take things for granted and they do not show gratitude.
A culture of entitlement has crept up on society today. People believe they are eligible for things, without having to be polite and without having to work for them. I think this behaviour stinks. It is time to strip back to basics and practice some of the old (but not dated) habits our parents and grandparents were raised with.
Saying thank you
Did someone give you a gift? Express your gratitude and say thank you. A thank you should be said both personally and, depending on the situation, be followed up with a written thank you note. This is particularly important when the gift was received for an important event, such as a graduation or wedding, when received from afar, or when you know a lot of thought and effort was put in to its purchase.
Thank you notes are also highly important post events. Have you recently dined at someone’s home that you wouldn’t ordinarily visit? Send a thank you note. If you are feeling particularly generous, you may even want to send a bunch of flowers, again, depending on the occasion.
Saying thank you takes five minutes out of your day. Five minutes is surely worth the joy and happiness the recipient of your thank you gesture will feel. It really is that simple.
Giving your full attention
It annoys me no end when I see people on their phone, while ignoring someone in front of them. People who serve you in shops are not below you. Have the decency to put the phone down, even for 1 minute, while someone serves you and engage them in conversation. People who work in shops deserve this simple level of respect from you, so give it to them.
Perhaps even worse than this is when people are out at a social event and are constantly checking their phones. According to traditional rules of etiquette, phones are to be banned from all dinner tables, coffee tables and other similar social events. It is not only rude to your fellow diners and friends, it is extremely disrespectful and gives off the sign that you would rather be somewhere else (or on Facebook or Instagram) than with the people who are right in front of you. Yes, we know you are extremely busy and important but unless you are expecting a medical emergency to occur, put that phone straight back in your bag or pocket and leave it there for the duration of the night, preferably on silent. (Some restaurants in the US have gone so far as to ban mobile phones and confiscate them from diners upon arrival. Hear, hear!)
Can’t attend a wedding? Politely decline (via the post, not email) and send a gift anyway. Look someone in the eye when shaking hands, and ensure your handshake is a strong one. Return phone calls. Wipe down your machinery at the gym after you use it. Wait to be greeted at a fast food drive through window instead of barking your order down the line. Blow your nose when it is running instead of sniffing it up. Keep your elbows off the dinner table. Bring a small gift or token to someone’s house when invited for dinner. Leave a tip for good service. Open the door for a woman in front of you. Let people get out of the elevator/tram/train/bus before getting in.
These things are not ground breaking, nor are they difficult. So why do people so often overlook them? Start taking back this ground today and reverse this evil trend that has crept into society.