‘People don’t open the door for me; why should I do it for them?’
‘Aren’t there more important things to worry about than saying “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me”?’
‘I don’t need to show manners to my siblings. We’re family.’
Do any of those statements sound like something you would say? If so, you could be missing out on the benefits of showing good manners!
What you should know about manners
Good manners can improve the following three areas of your life:
Your reputation. How you treat people makes an impression, for good or for bad. If you are mannerly, people will likely view you as mature and responsible—and they’ll treat you accordingly! If you are rude, however, people will conclude that you are interested only in yourself, and you could end up being bypassed for employment and other opportunities. As the Bible says, “the cruel person brings disgrace on himself.”—Proverbs 11:17; footnote.
Your social life. The Bible says: “Clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union.” (Colossians 3:14) That is certainly true when it comes to friendship. People are drawn to those who are mannerly and who treat them well. After all, who would want to be in the company of someone who is rude or obnoxious?
The way people treat you. “If you are always polite,” says a young woman named Jennifer, “over time, you may see improvement in the way even the most consistently rude people respond to you.” Of course, if you are rude, you may get the opposite response. The Bible says: “With the measure that you are measuring out, they will measure out to you.”—Matthew 7:2.
The bottom line: Social interaction is a part of daily life. How you handle it can affect how people view you and treat you. Put simply, your manners really matter!
How to improve
Take a ‘manners inventory.’ Ask yourself such questions as: ‘Do I address adults respectfully? How often do I say “please,” “thank you,” or “excuse me”? Am I distracted when talking with others—perhaps even reading and responding to text messages? Do I treat my parents and siblings with respect, or do I take liberties just because “they’re family”?’
The Bible says: “In showing honor to one another, take the lead.”—Romans 12:10.
Set goals. Write down three areas in which you could improve. For example, 15-year-old Allison says that she needs “to be a good listener rather than a good talker.” David, 19, says he needs to work on not texting while with family or friends. “It’s disrespectful,” he says. “I’m basically telling them that I would rather talk to someone else than talk to them.” Edward, 17, says that he needs to stop interrupting others as they speak. And Jennifer, quoted earlier, has resolved to work on her manners with elderly ones. “I used to say a quick ‘hello’ and then find a reason to move on to my young friends,” she says. “But now I’ve really made an effort to get to know them. It has helped me to improve my manners a lot!”
The Bible says: “Look out not only for your own interests, but also for the interests of others.”—Philippians 2:4.
Monitor your progress. For a month, track your speech or conduct in the areas in which you want to improve. At the end of the month, ask yourself: ‘How has my being mannerly made me a better person? In what areas do I still need to improve?’ Set new goals accordingly.
The Bible says: “Just as you want men to do to you, do the same way to them.”—Luke 6:31.