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Good manners matter – they cost nothing yet can mean a great deal to others. They make a positive difference and a lasting impression, yet so many young people are failing to be “well mannered” – but at what cost?

Click the image above to jump to the video which talks to children about manners – what they are and why they are important. 

I work with a lot of children (and adults) and it surprises me how little children and teens use good manners. They know they should (they are often reminded!) yet they do not. They also seem to lack social skills, or confidence in using them.

Good manners matter for several reasons:

  1. They show awareness of, and appreciation for, others.

    It is nice when you have gone out of your way, or even done something completely “routine” such as making dinner or tidying the house, that this effort is recognised and appreciated by others. Without your putting in that effort, everyone would be worse off. It is a life skill to recognise when others do things for you, even if that is “expected”. By recognising what others do for you, it shows people that they matter to you – and makes them feel good.  We all have the power to make others feel good, with very little time or effort on our part.

2. They show you look further than just yourself

Who likes to be around very selfish people? People who do not say please, or thank you, or engage in eye-contact, smile (genuinely) or inquire after others?  Or who invite you to their home but do not offer a glass or water, or something to drink? Or who do not hold a door open as they are passing?These people develop the label of being rude, self-centred and ignorant. All these, for not using a basic set of civil courtesies. By NOT doing these things, it shows a lack of empathy and awareness of others.

By offering someone a drink, or opening a door, it shows you are able to see things from their perspective and that they do matter and they are visible to you.


3. They are an example of empathy and kindness – and these are reciprocal

The more you demonstrate good manners to others, the more likely they are to do the same. This does not always follow, however, it  is the case most of the time. Just because someone does not show manners in return, is not a green light to do the same – rise above it. As Michelle Obama famously said, “When they go low, we go high.” Showing empathy and kindness are attributes that show us at our best and make others reciprocate.


4. The make you memorable – for the right reasons

You never get a second chance to make a first impression – what do you people to think of you after you have left a meeting or a conversation? Good manners are the gateway to future plans and relationships – without them, it can be a lonely or bumpy road.

What are good manners?

Good manners are simple things such as:

  • Eating with your mouth shut
  • Saying please and thank you
  • Acknowledging someone when you see them
  • Shaking hands, or other acknowledgement as culture dictates and which are  age appropriate
  • Offering someone refreshments when they visit your home or office
  • Holding the doors open for someone as they pass
  • Saying excuse me  you knock or accidentally bump into them (VERY British!)
  • Using correct language and refraining from swearing
  • Smiling and meaning it
  • Sharing
  • Being aware of quiet and no smoking zones
  • Getting up on public transport for those who need the seat more than you do
  • Playing music at a reasonable level
  • Apologize (sincerely)
  • Acknowledge invitations and either accept or decline – do not ignore.
  • Se on time – or inform someone if you are going to be late.
  • Ask questions and show an interest in other people.

In short, treat others as you would have them treat you.

How to help your children learn manners

  • Model good manners to them and others – constantly
  • Encourage use of good manners and compliment them when they do
  • Explain why good manners matter and what it would be like if no one ever used good manners
  • When they slip up – and they will – use it as a learning experience, rather than to punish , shame or humiliate. None of these feelings make them feel good and they will become angry and resentful which will impact on your relationship.

Good manners matter as they make life more pleasant, more engaging and encourage more interaction between people. They give us a good reputation as someone to be sort out time and time again. Remember, it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile – it takes no real time to make a great impression – and make someone else feel good.

What good manners do you encourage at home and what works for you as a family in encouraging good manners? Leave a comment below !