Thursday, 23 June 2011

On a mission to find manners

After yet another unpleasant encounter with one of the typical ‘charming’ travellers on the District Line this morning I am in a bad mood and getting all worked up about people and their lack of manners.

Why is it that increasingly people seem to have some form of allergy to basic, simple manners? You know that completely out there idea of holding a door open for someone if they are behind you, rather than letting it slam in their face. Or perhaps even when driving round a roundabout actually switching on that great invention on your car which indicates what direction you’re going, instead of potentially causing an accident and leaving others around you to just guess your intentions. No? Too much effort, can’t be bothered? Thought so.

The main thing I hate about bad manners – particularly those found on the commute – is that it starts to affect you and you find yourself becoming that miserable monster tutting, pushing and huffing your way through your journey. I often think to myself I hope I don’t see anyone I know on the train as I’d be embarrassed by my miserable demeanour and tunnel vision approach to getting home.

One thing that really gets me is people not saying thank you. I like to think of myself as quite a helpful person, particularly in the workplace, but the amount of times I’ve gone out my way to help people (particularly when others wouldn’t) and not got one measly thank you...
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want a medal for being a decent human being, but just on the odd occasion a rare expression of gratitude would just make my day that little bit nicer.

Perhaps it’s because I am quite polite myself and am very conscious of saying thank you. I used to be friends with such a rude girl, who led to all sorts of embarrassment for us when we went out for meals/drinks because of her abrupt attitude to any waiting staff she encountered. No thank you was ever offered, each menu grabbed out their hands, no smile ever passed her lips. Awful.

My boyfriend is also great with his manners, so much so that he ends up apologising to people when it’s not his fault – say for example people barge into him in the street or on public transport. This is something that really bothers me for some bizarre reason and I can often be seeing telling him off for apologising when he’s done absolutely nothing wrong.

Why then for most people is saying sorry so hard? Being a bit of a stubborn character (only child, Leo starsign, need I say more) I myself am guilty of this if I get into an argument with family/friends, I just can’t bring myself to admit I’m in the wrong and it takes a long while for me to calm down and see things logically. Although if I were to accidentally tread on someone’s foot on the train, knock someone in a shop, or feel I was being awkward in my food order in a restaurant, I’d be the first to apologise.

Yet every day I come into contact with numerous people who let people down, take advantage, disrupt people’s working schedules, knock people on the train and more, but say nothing. Absolutely nothing. To me it should be like the word sorry comes out your mouth on auto pilot whenever you do anything wrong, it’s not like it requires a lot of effort.

What’s the answer to this rude society we live in then? Do we need to go back to having people attend finishing schools so they know the right way to carry themselves throughout life? On having a nose online the most popular results coming up are sites advising parents how to teach their children good manners and obviously this is where it all starts and how a precedent is set for how to behave. It seems to me though people need some form of lessons as they get older, a refresher course if you were of good manners and etiquette. This site offers advice on how to teach adults good manners if they are lacking for instance. And interestingly these findings show that psychologists are saying thank you is actually good for us!

So go on, take your time walking to the train station tonight, let someone next to you go in front and board the bus first, smile and thank your waiter if you eat out and give your partner a big hug and apologise for all the times you have been in the wrong. We all want to get home after work or make it to our destination as soon as we can, we’re all tired from a hard day and we’re all likely to be fed up with something – be it our jobs, our financial situation, a family issue. Instead of taking your frustration out on others though, step back and take a deep breath and think of how you’re feeling and how you’d like to be treated. Who knows perhaps tomorrow morning you’ll find you’re the one who gets offered that seat or receives that thank you card for your kind efforts.

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