Manners change over the years. The reason that men allow women to go through a door first was originally done so that if an assailant was waiting the other side, then she would be the victim and not the man! Men walked on the road side of a pavement to shield women from being splashed. Is that needed now? Probably not – but it is still good manners. Isn’t it?

Is it still good manners to take your soup from the far edge of the bowl and sip not slurp it from a spoon held level with your mouth?

Why do good manners both exist and matter? They exist and matter for the same reasons – they establish sensible and thoughtful practices which provide positive benefits for all involved. Bad manners produce negative experiences.

The trouble is that there are wide discrepancies in definition. To avoid semantic arguments the well- established question to ask is ‘How would I feel if this (good or bad manners) were applied to me?’

Even that enquiry can lead to controversy because my good manners may not be yours and vice versa.

Are there still some universal definitions which apply in all circumstances?

Let’s see.
Is it good manners :
To acknowledge receipt of money without delay?
To send ‘Thank You’ messages for kindnesses received?
To stand up when a woman enters a room?
To wear a face mask in public?
To use a napkin or serviette when eating?
To wave a ‘Thank You’ when another driver ‘Let’s you in’?
To keep 2 metres apart in public?
To take your litter home or dispose of it carefully?
To open a car door for a passenger?
To eat with your mouth closed?To queue?
To avoid spitting in public?
To finish your food?
To shake hands?

You will be able to add your own options to the above and make your own decisions.

What seems to be really important in the extraordinary times we live in, is that we acknowledge that modern manners are different, have alternative nuances and meanings. Bad manners are and always will be, an affront to living in a well-ordered, tolerant and positive society. We do not need the excesses and flowery fandangos of yesteryear but we do need a code of behaviours which is understood and implemented by the majority.

Perhaps, being GOOD MANNERED is asking too much – so, how about aspiring to be WELL MANNERED? Is that an elegant compromise or is it being weak and too middle of the road?


Duncan Christie-Miller | All Rights Reserved ©