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Midland Living Magazine

Good Manners Never Go Out of Style

written by rebecca rister | photos provided by hometown living


As a longtime collector of all etiquette books, I enjoy reading how manners and decorum have evolved in our culture over the past 100 plus years. However, there are several things that have not changed from the horse and buggy days…and I hope they never do. This short list is a good reminder to us all that even though we know what to do, it doesn’t mean we always actually do it. Let’s make our mothers proud and continue all that is great about Southern hospitality by not only leading by example, but teaching our children (especially those recent high school grads) the importance of a thank you & kind word. 



 


1. Be Friendly 
Here’s how: smile, say ‘hello’ to strangers, wave to passing cars on your street, let someone with fewer groceries go ahead of you in line and, for heaven’s sake, hold the door for the person behind and ahead of you.


2. Teach your children to say, ‘yes ma’am,’ ‘no ma’am,’ and ‘thank you ma’am.’ A good name and good manners will carry them further in life than any piece of paper. 



3. Be Unoffended 
My pastor continues to touch on this topic because we live in a culture where we are all so easy to get our feelings hurt or to get angry about how another has treated us (be it friend or stranger). Instead, give people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they did not mean it snarky, maybe their dog died and they’re just not at their best. We never really know what a person is going through, so let’s treat others with kindness even if it is not always returned. Wait a day to react to that rude Facebook comment or email. Time can help us to cool off and put it into perspective. 



 


4.Make Eye Contact
with the person with whom you are speaking. A good handshake and eye contact are things that should be taught in pre-school, but if it wasn’t, it’s NEVER TOO LATE to start. Look up from your phone people (I am talking to myself here, of course, too). 


5. Handwrite thank you cards. And send them, preferably, within a week of receiving your gift. These are expected of graduates and brides especially, but teach your small children after birthday party gifts to do this. If they are too young to write, let them make a video to text to guests. Because you are never too young to say “Thank you.”  When you show gratitude, you’re telling that person, “I appreciate you took time and effort to select a gift, spend your hard-earned money, wrap, and deliver it to me. That made me feel special.” 



 


6. Be Unoffended
My pastor continues to touch on this topic because we live in a culture where we are all so easy to get our feelings hurt or to get angry about how another has treated us (be it friend or stranger). Instead, give people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they did not mean it snarky, maybe their dog died and they’re just not at their best. We never really know what a person is going through, so let’s treat others with kindness even if it is not always returned. Wait a day to react to that rude Facebook comment or email. Time can help us to cool off and put it into perspective. 


7. Reach Out to those in Need 
Whether it be someone who is ill and going through chemo, or a co-worker who has lost a family member or even a pet. Ask to take them food, send a card or flowers. Let people know you care. It is this writer’s opinon not to let ‘social distancing’ encourage us to to stop making the effort to check on our neighbors. 




 

8. When you enter a room, say hello to everyone. This is true whether it be your workplace or a dinner party. Let’s remember to INTRODUCE people that do not know each other – don’t make them introduce themselves. Offer a common topic of information about your mutual friends. “Aly Pearson, this is my friend, Rande McKellar. She is from California as well. Your girls are the same age, and both play soccer.”


9. Put Away Your Electronics
when you have a friend over. Put your phone down and turn the tv off. If you are in a group, walk outside to take a call if you must. But it is rude to talk a call in the middle of an intimate conversation. You’re telling that person what you are saying is not important to me. (My 8-year-old son insisted on this one. He already knows it is rude for his guests and he likes my attention as well.) Try no electronics at the dinner table and get the conversation started! 



People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel. 

– Maya Angelou


10. Last but not least, learn people’s names. The attendant at the dry cleaner you see weekly, your bank teller and the other mother’s at school. If you need a cheat sheet, use the NOTES on your phone as a reminder. This makes people feel important. 

 

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