Are you familiar with the old refrain “mind your manners”?
Today, it seems it may be a passé expression; but, when I was a child, I was told to mind my manners ad nauseum.
The phrases ‘please and thank you, yes ma’am, and yes sir were ingrained in me from a very young age; so much so that they became an automatic response of gratitude in every circumstance.
At 18 years ago, I participated in a 13-day Outward Bound adventure with 13 people from all over the country. At the end of our trip, the instructors provided individual feedback on what we did well. Most of the feedback I was given revolved around my southernisms, my manners and my kind disposition- the degree to which they had never seen before.
At the time, I struggled to understand how these automatic responses and common courtesies could differentiate me so much. Now, much longer in the tooth, it makes perfect sense. Manners, authentic genuine manners, are differentiators in the best way possible.
The grown-up version of me expresses gratitude every opportunity I get.
So much so, it may amuse you to know, my Google Home seems taken aback by my polite requests. “What a classy way to ask,” it responds when I ask “Google, please set a timer.” Or “That’s magic to my ears,” when I say “Google, turn on my favorite tunes, please.”
Though the grown-up version of me has mostly ditched the ma’am and sir, I’ve held fast to fundamental expressions of appreciation. They feel passé today because it seems to me that the world has not held fast to them. It is becoming more and more rare not only to hear them, but also experience the kindness that would merit them – a door being held open for you, something dropped, picked up for you, a smile, a nod.
What surprises me most is how overly gracious I am for what once seemed like a common courtesy. I repeat my thanks and appreciation until it is nearly awkward.
I guess I’m just like Google – and my parents – trying to reinforce those awesome manners.
So here it is, as the world gets more and more divided, I’m on a mission to unite us, this time though, with manners. Treating each other with decency and common courtesies seems like a great inroad. Will you join me?
Let’s ramp up the please.
Let’s ramp up the thank you.
Let’s ramp up the simple and kind gestures like holding the door open.
Because in doing so, we’re taking responsibility for changing this world for the better one kind act, one polite word at a time.
If you weren’t taught the value of please and thank you and simple things like holding the door open for someone, I invite you to start now. There is nothing more gracious, nothing warmer than a genuine thank you or a simple act of courtesy.
Kindness, even in small acts, changes everything.
And that’s my not so sexy truth.
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