I am sure you may have heard this statement before and rolled your eyes at the adult saying so…lol! Whilst I have been a tweenager once and get how ‘annoying’ it can be to hear those words strung in a sentence, as an adult now, I have come to understand the importance of manners in our world.
May I share the definition of manners? Manners means “the social conduct or rules of conduct as shown in the prevalent customs”, says Merriam Webster’s dictionary. In a nutshell, I’d say manners are a set of accepted behaviour by society – such as being kind to all, including animals, being considerate of others when in public spaces, etc. Minding your manners suggests you should do your best to carry yourself in such a way that you don’t offend others. You must have heard the saying, do unto others, what you’d like others to do unto you; this speaks to the heart of manners. If you don’t like being yelled at, you do not yell at others. You like people to be nice to you, right? You be nice to people too.
Another saying that speaks to the matter of manners which I so love – smile, and the whole world smiles with you. Have you experienced it yet? I have, and it made my whole day seem like a walk in a beautiful park.
Now, let me state, that not everyone will be courteous to you when you are- the world isn’t that perfect a place. However, there is something to be said for being the one with good manners. Having and exhibiting good manners can make your life a bit easier, people are happy to be near you and to help you out. You want to have good manners and be respectful of others…that is the aim: to be a responsible and kind human being.
I’ll highlight 5 manners that continue to help me navigate this rather complex world we live in:
- Greeting – it can be such a powerful conversation opener when you add a genuine smile to it. In our Ghanaian culture, greeting is very much regarded as a sign of mutual respect- you cannot walk into any place with humans and not as much as utter a heartfelt “Good day” and yet expect people to attend to you. Greeting someone is a basic courtesy in the book of minding your manners – I hope you are one of those who greets cheerily. It’s a universal language, understood by all
- 2-way conversation – I have noticed how some of us, when greeted and asked how we are doing, answer, “I’m fine” and end it there. That is not a conversation, that’s an answer. Once you’re asked about your well-being, the least you can do is to ask the same of the person. Oh, another thing I encourage tweenagers to do is to be candid in your responses to the question, “how are you?”. Stop giving the standard response of “I’m fine”, if you can help it. I have answered, “I’m lost” to that question because I genuinely was lost. The lady seemed a bit more empathetic and helped me. Did I tell you about the time I was unwell and went to see the doctor? “Good morning Eugenia how are you today?”, he asked. “I’m fine, thank you…” I answered, and he cut me short – “if you are fine, then you shouldn’t be here,” he smiled. I got the message and since then I answer that question as honestly and as engagingly as I can
- Appreciation – we must always show appreciation to people who have helped us…always! Don’t take it for granted that because you’re a tweenager, your parents, teachers and basically all adults in your life must take care you. Yes, they must, but it takes a lot of sacrifice to do so, therefore the least you can do is to show appreciation. Saying (or writing) thank you when they least expect it is such an admirable thing to do
- Phone etiquette – I could write a whole column on this one, phew! Too many of us lose ourselves the moment we get a phone or tablet. We freeze out any human next to us and stay glued to our phone like a stamp to a letter! Imagine you enter a building, glued to your gadget- take a seat, still glued to your gadget with earphones plugged in, not knowing you have sat on a freshly painted chair which has a sign on it, but you couldn’t see because…
Minding your manners goes a long way in making life a nit easier on us all