Okay, I know what you’re all thinking. Manners!? Etiquette!? Boo!!! Hiss!!! Grrr!!! Hulk, angry! Hulk, smash! But hear me out for a second. Today’s “Old School Knowledge” is quite valuable and everyone should pay close attention. It seems society is advancing extremely fast with technology, social norms, and global reach; however, society seems to be going backward with other, more basic, things, such as – you guessed it – manners and etiquette. Well, no more! The line must be drawn here! This far. No further! So sit back and let me fill your mind with a few to-dos regarding good old-fashion civility.
Manners? What are those?
There are a few definitions available for manners and The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as a way of behaving toward people, especially ways that are socially correct and shows respect for their comfort and their feelings. While according to Emily Post, an influential American writer on etiquette in the twentieth century, “[M]anners are made up of trivialities of deportment which can be easily learned if one does not happen to know them; manner is personality—the outward manifestation of one’s innate character and attitude toward life.” (“Manners and Etiquette”. www.encyclopedia.com). Simply put, manners are common sense practices that allow people to get along with one another and avoid unwanted confrontations.
Well, what about etiquette?
While manners and etiquette do go hand-in-hand. They can’t be defined as the same things. That is because while manners are an expression of inner character (a person speaking or behaving in a certain way), etiquette is an actual customary code of behavior. This code of behavior is followed by a particular group of people, and it changes from group-to-group or culture-to-culture.
Even simpler: People express manners and those manners are governed by etiquette. If you’re willing to keep the peace between members of a group, that means you have good manners even if it means rejecting previously conceived etiquette.
Okay. So, what’s the big deal?
The big deal is that everyone is running around these days with their phones in their hands (smartphones, mind you), texting away and running into telephone poles, each other, or other random objects. Worse. They’re sitting across from each other having a meal and conversing, not with the person they’re eating with, but with some random bloke, who may or may not be in the bathroom, via Facebook Messenger.
Then there are people driving 65 MPH in a 25 MPH zone. Or cutting in line at the latest Star Tour ride at Disneyland. And, though not as bad, people not knowing how to properly cut up a steak with fork and knife. Still, even worse, are those that would cook up said steak well-done! The list goes on and on (included below), but before that, here’s my personal all-time most despised bad-behavior: Driving slow in the fast lane! Oh, serenity now!
10 of the Most Common Bad Manners
- Speaking excessively loud when unnecessary.
- Not respecting personal space.
- Poor table manners.
- Letting your children misbehave and run wild.
- Vulgar language when it’s not appropriate.
- Being oblivious to the world.
- Abandoning the idea of chivalry.
- Indulging in obnoxious and disruptive behavior.
- Lack of respect.
The meat and potatoes! Let’s get polite!
Now that you know some of the crappier behavior some of humanity has to offer, what should we do to improve our manners and etiquette? Besides reading further and abiding by the most common-sense advice ever given in history, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” please be sure to read my “Success is a State of Mind” post for some inspiration.
So without further ado, here are the ways to help you practice and improve your manners!
For Personal (General) Improvement
- Read up and learn your culture, group, and country’s current rules on etiquette for activities you will be partaking in. Many of these lessons can be found on YouTube. Such as how to party and drink it up at Korean parties: (SweetandTastyTV).
- Respect yourself, others, and nature. Respect is by far one of the most important expressions of feeling a person can have. If you do not treat yourself with respect, you cannot respect others, and respecting others leads to good manners (and world peace). However, what people forget is that no matter how far we advance we should always remember to respect Mother Nature. Without her, we’d all be floating human popsicles in space.
- Be kind and compassionate when you can. Seek out ways to help those around you.
- Slow down. The world isn’t going to blow up… okay, it actually will, but that’s like 5 billion years away. You have time.
- Smile. You can get away with a lot of things if you just smile. Not only does smiling scientifically improve your mood. It has the uncanny ability to set everyone at ease. Building on fire? Smile. You’ll feel better and probably help yourself and others escape in a much more efficient and non-chaotic way. Plus, pretty people make everyone happier and smiling automatically improves your appearance by a factor of ten.
- Work on being a little more empathetic. Yes, while I do value the cold and scientific mind at times, it pays to understand and share the feelings of another. This doesn’t mean you should excuse bad behavior or other ill-advised actions people do but try to at least understand where they’re coming from.
- Learn to say, “Thank you.” And mean it!
- Think of the most annoying thing in the world. Then think, this is what my children are like to the hundreds of other people around me that have to suffer when I let them run around wild, throwing tantrums everywhere.
Smile. Smiling is intentionally mentioned twice because you can be loud, sort of obnoxious with your friends (which you should avoid doing) walking down the street, but if you are smiling and generally look like you’re enjoying yourself and allow others to absorb your “feels-good” vibe, you’re golden. No ifs ands or buts.
Accidentally cut off a person on the road? Smile and nod. Boom! Everything is diffused and we can all drive to our local Starbucks for a nice “…quad long shot grande in a venti cup half calf double cupped no sleeve salted caramel mocha latte with 2 pumps of vanilla substitute 2 pumps of white chocolate mocha for mocha and substitute 2 pumps of hazelnut for toffee nut half whole milk and half breve with no whipped cream extra hot extra foam extra caramel drizzle extra salt add a scoop of vanilla bean powder with light ice well stirred.” I had to look that up. Thanks, random former Starbucks, person, Drew McKenna.
For Business Improvement
- Follow through with your work commitments and complete projects in a timely manner.
- Dress appropriately for your job.
- Always be willing to help out with assignments but don’t bite off more than you can chew.
- Greet everyone in a friendly and respectable manner. Remember and use their names.
- Don’t gossip and if you must (I highly frown upon this and recommend avoiding at all cost) do so outside office space and time.
- Speak up when the opportunity presents itself. In a respectful manner, be honest about your opinions. Nobody likes and needs a Yes-man.
8 Ways to Practice Good Manners (by Elise McVeigh at Parents.com)
These 8 steps are designed to help parents instill manners into their children’s lives. I highly recommend hopping over there to read further about each step.
- Teach good manners. I’ll add at the earliest age possible. Duh? Right?
- Get others on board. Recruit help from friends, the school mascot, fictitious cartoon characters, whatever you can think of to teach and demonstrate proper manners.
- Use positive language. Make your kids believe learning good social graces is awesome. Because it is. Positive reinforcement folks! You teach your dogs and pet ferret (sadly, not allowed in California… like most things) this way, teach your kids this way as well.
- Try out silly tricks. Basically, humor, teach manners in a humorous way. The kids will get it. It’s like using rap to reach out to some students that love rap… they think it’s rap, but don’t actually realize they’re learning too! Mind. Blown.
Intermission… A Small Break… (My SEO Plug-In Suggested It)… 3.2.1…
- Role-Play Situations. Who doesn’t like role playing? This coming from a fan of Dungeons and Dragons and Mass Effect, I can definitely say, I love role playing. However, this isn’t about slaying dragons or saving the galaxy from strange synthetic space robot aliens in the most convoluted story ever, it’s about pretending to be a well-mannered person interacting with your child and teaching them how to act during different situations.
- Eat dinner as a family. This is very important. Not only can you find out what is happening in the lives of your children. You can show them the proper way to ask for dishes, hold their utensils, and carry and excuse themselves. Obviously, you don’t need to be so formal, but it’s good to learn. It also fosters a loving and caring environment which will pay off in dividends as children grow up.
- Make the little moments count. Practice being well-mannered at kid-friendly places. Go about your routine and pay mind to do all the little things in a proper way. This will rub off on your kids and eventually you’ll be able to take them to more adult restaurants and they should be comfortable. To be honest, this reminds me of Colossus talking to Wade in Deadpool, “Wade. Four of five moments. Four or five moments – that’s all it takes… Everyone thinks it’s a full-time job. Wake up a hero. Brush your teeth a hero. Go to work a hero. Not true. Over a lifetime, there are only four or five moments that really matter. Moments when you’re offered a choice – to make a sacrifice, conquer a flaw, save a friend, spare an enemy. In these moments, everything else falls away. The way the world sees us.” These moments add up actually, especially in the eyes of your children.
- Involve your child’s ideas. Simply, listen to your kids and monopolize on anything they say, suggest or complain about. Your kid should feel like their opinion counts so where possible incorporate it into training.
Remember, you can read more about these 8 ideas (explained a little more) here.
Chivalry (Is Not Dead)
Yowsers. This was a long post. I was going to talk briefly about Chivalry. I supposed Chivalry is indeed dead… at least, for this post. I’ll write up something for it in another post. Promise.
Bonus: How Your Steak Should be Cooked, and How to Actually Slice It Up
Ah! Now to the juicy part. Steak etiquette.
The proper way to cook your steak is and always should be anything at or below Medium-Rare. Please don’t ruin a good steak by overcooking it. If you’re going to spend money on a prime cut of beef, you’ll want to enjoy consuming it when it’s not hard as a rock. This goes for lamb as well. In fact, you can actually consume certain cuts of beef and lamb rare as long as the outside is cooked. This is because any bacteria are generally on the outside.
How to hold your knife and fork
- The fork should be held in your left hand, using your index finger to support it if more force is needed. The fork should be curving back towards you, not in front of you.
- The knife should be held in your right hand, again with your index finger supporting it. Go Japanese Samurai on this, there are no left-handed sword wielders.
- Cut the steak (or another object) into a small manageable piece. Do not cut a piece you’re not ready to eat.
- Do not run your knife through the fork prongs. Your knife should cut gently with short strokes outside and away from the fork (the side opposite the curve). If it feels like you need too much force you have 2 options: 1) Get a sharper knife 2) Make longer strokes.
- If you’re American: After cutting a piece of meat and it’s on your fork, put your knife down, switch your fork to your right hand, and then eat it. If you’re European (specifically, German): After cutting your food, you can go ahead and consume it with your fork in your left hand without having to put down your knife. Like the Metric System, I prefer the European style of eating.
Whew. This was another long post, but I hope this helps you all. Thanks for reading!