Fortune Cookie Friday: Manners Matter
I woke up the other day a little bitter. I was achy and I didn’t sleep well the night before. My day was beyond full with things that I had to do. On top of that, I was dealing with my aging mom recovering from surgery. When I pulled myself out of bed, I was definitely not bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and the word “cheery” wasn’t even on my list of feelings.
I continued that particular day by grabbing a well-needed cup of coffee and checking my email. Luckily, the first person I see every day is my loving husband. Even in my worst moods, seeing him brings a smile to my face. If it was anybody else, I probably would have lumbered past them like an angry troll and grumbled, “I need coffee!”
Post coffee, I am a much more agreeable person, but there are those days when I can still be in a bad mood. That is when advice, like this fortune, comes to mind. We meet many people on our daily journeys, but if we all scowled at each other, and complained all the time, we would all be in a sour mood—nobody wants that.
We all have those days that we wish we could pull the covers over our heads and hide from all of the crud in our lives. (There’s a multitude of words to describe our woes, but I need to keep it clean for my younger readers, so insert whatever other word you want.)Unfortunately, we can’t hide from them. We need to take them head on, and we need to do it with good manners.
It’s More Than Please and Thank You
We shouldn’t behave with cold manners. Manners are more than just saying, “Please” and “Thank you.” It’s about your attitude. The people I met that day had no idea what I was dealing with. They most likely woke up with their own set of problems. My attitude toward them can make a big difference in how our interaction plays out.
Let’s look at two scenarios that could play out when I, for example, ask for directions:
Scenario 1. I walk up to someone and say, “Hey do you know where X is?” Nobody likes being lost, and we hope this person knows the way. I could be that grouchy person that is impatient with the directions and might say thank you, without even looking them in the eye, and then walk off in the direction they indicated.
Scenario 2. I smile at them and say, “Excuse me, I believe I’m lost. Do you happen to know where X is?” I patiently listen to their directions and affirm that I am listening, probably by nodding my head. After that, I say, “Thank you. I really appreciate the help. Have a nice day.”
In the first example, the person might think that I am mean, and then wonder why they should even want to be around me, yet alone help me. In the second, they will probably feel a small sense of accomplishment, because they helped someone out that day.
Most people consider attitude when they deal with each other, especially strangers, since that is all they have to go on. If you are stern and rude, they will go on the defensive. If you are friendly and courteous, they won’t see you as a threat, but as a friend.
Manners Are Good for You and Others
Really, good manners are about compassion. Manners are you going out of your way for others. Whether it is holding the door open for someone, making eye contact while conversing, or waiting to eat until everyone has their food; you are showing that you care enough to do that little extra for them.
So how do you show good manners when you are having a bad day? Well, start by taking a deep breath and slapping on a smile. I’ve written about smiling in other posts; in short, smiles can really improve your attitude. A smile won’t make all of your troubles disappear, but it will make you feel better, and you can pass that feeling on to others.
Next, try to start using good manners first thing in the morning. Each time you use them, even if it is to say good morning to yourself in the mirror, you are showing compassion. Showing compassion will give you a sense of accomplishment and improve your attitude.
Finally, remember that life is not all about you. There are other characters in this play, and we all work together to make it a great performance. It is up to all of us to determine if we want it to be a tragedy or a comedy.