"Your past is not your future; you have the power to make new decisions for your life starting today."
- Deb Sofield

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Manners Cost Nothing and Are Priceless

When was the last time someone said “thank you” or “please” to you? Really think about the last time someone out of the clear blue said “thank you” for something kind you did for them or said “please” when something was needed.

Oh no! You can’t think of a recent time when someone said those magical phrases in a sincere manner?

Well, sadly, that is my point today.

It seems so rare to hear a kind word of thanks, praise, appreciation or encouragement that is not forced or contrived to get you to do something for someone. So with that in mind, let’s figure out how you can be the change you say you want to be in the world.

No doubt you’ve shaken your head in disbelief when someone does not acknowledge a kindness done to them by another person. It seems the idea of being grateful for small and large kindnesses is not the norm these days, and that is not good, my friends.

When the basic ideas of being kind, thoughtful and understanding are trampled by the harshness or aloofness of those in command and control, then we are heading for a real problem that will manifest itself in actions that show no mercy for those who need it the most.

We see rudeness played out every day online and in real life, and it is shredding the fabric of our society, so much so, that if we don’t stop, we might not ever be able to put the fragile fabric back together. And I hope you would agree with me that if there was ever a time we needed to up our manners and say a kind word, that time is now.

I was watching a video by Simon Sinek the British/American author, motivational speaker and marketing consultant who has taken the social media world by storm with his observations of this generation’s socially awkward interactions and why these kids are failing in the marketplace. And while I agree with his general assumption of reasoning (that many of today’s kids were not taught the harsh realities and basics of life by their parents who worked, negotiated and harassed the system to give their kids a gold star and a trophy for showing up), he also opines that these kids don’t know any better on their own. That is the part I’d disagree with if Simon were to ask me.

I believe that most kids today learn from other kids. With that in mind, it shouldn’t be that much of a stretch to observe good manners, which show a proper upbringing of polite, decent and well-mannered children taught by parents who understand the way of the world and how social conduct plays an important role in their success. That being said, it seems to be the case that members of the millennial generation we have now do not know the basics of common everyday social interaction without a phone in their hand and an emoji or selfie showing how they feel second by second.

It seems that there is an overall lack of basic etiquette that is missing in our personal lives, our professional lives and society in general. So, to make the world a better place, let’s do our part by using our manners and showing kindness and social skills that reflect our gracious upbringing, and this will be a reflection of who we are on the inside, which shows on the outside.

Remember, manners are not just the purview of children; they are important for adults who want to excel in their personal and professional lives as well. And a lack of or sloppiness of social skills and proper verbal interactions could very well cause you harm; this can easily be avoided by caring enough to clean up your act and dust off your manners, both verbal and physical.

For me, the reason this topic is worthy of discussion is that I fear we are careening into mayhem because of those who either don’t know or don’t care enough about their neighbors, friends and family who they disagree with to maintain a proper balance of healthy disagreement and respect for differing points of view.

Simply stated, in today’s world we can do what the Canadian speaker and author, Rhonda Scharf, recommends, which is to “Make ourselves stand out in a rude society by remembering our manners, treating people as respected individuals and doing what others are unwilling to do.”

I am going to focus on three important words for all of us to dust off and start saying.

Let me start with thank you.

Lynn Truss, the author of “Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today,” says that a simple “thank you” is one of the most important ways we can stem the tide of rudeness that has taken over our corporate culture and our daily interactions. In fact, if we want others to treat us with respect, we will have to meet them half way and find a point of agreement and acknowledgment of something good being done that deserves a verbal response of praise.

Many of my readers and listeners know these rules of respect and common courtesy and have been beneficiaries of their value. Please allow me to encourage you to keep on keeping on, so that your voice is magnified in the muddled marketplace of self-absorbed, complaining, selfish and foolish people.

As you scroll through your social media newsfeeds, listen at the office or tune into your favorite radio or TV show, you will recognize the need for another voice–a voice that has words of kindness and sanity that need to be added to the mix of anger, jealousy and rage.

You are probably familiar with the concept that a kind answer turns away anger while on the other hand, harsh words start a fire.* Well, it is true, and the only way to douse the fire is to keep your words soft and firm, kind and gracious. One way we can do that is by being verbal with our praise and thanksgiving for the good and kind things others do for us.

Let’s dust off the words “thank you” and add them to our everyday vocabulary.

Now let me add the last word that is sorely needed in the world today–please.

The simple word “please” acknowledges the gift of time, effort and value that another person gives us.

For some people, actually hearing the word “please” directed towards them creates a sense of value and worth. If they didn’t matter, you would not acknowledge them, thus, the word “please” sets the tone for a two-way conversation. Hard to be snarky and mean when you use the word “please.”

On a more personal note, when you use the words “please” and “thank you,” it will make you more popular. Friends and strangers will want to spend time with you because you verbally (and I will add emotionally) recognized their value.

In an unscientific survey I have done with clients and friends, I have noticed that when the words of proper manners are used, the overall attitude and physical stance of those hearing the words are adjusted to a more proper, calm and genteel place. When someone is outwardly belligerent in a proper setting, it becomes obvious that they are out of place, and that is no way to win friends and influence people. In fact, it might be the death knell for your advancement.

In today’s world, if you were to ask people what it is that they want most, the top response would be that a desire to be recognized for their time and talent that was given (in many cases freely) for the job, the guest or the family member. Knowing that, how hard is it to say a few proper and kind words to cool the flame of others’ fragile emotions? I would say it is not hard at all. It just takes time and effort, both of which you need to make room for when dealing with others.

The simple word “please” very well might open doors that have been shut to others, so why not give a bit of yourself and acknowledge the value that other people bring to the table, and mind your manners with one simple word, “please.”

I’ll sum up my thought for this week with a reminder that “thank you” and “please” are still magical words; in fact, they just might be the two most important words in the English language, so why not use them?

Good words and good manners cost nothing, and yet to another person they are priceless in today’s world.

* Proverbs 15:1 – A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

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You live but once, you might as well be amusing. - Coco Chanel