Like friendship, blue jeans, homemade apple pie, the Beatles and polka dots, good manners will never go out of style.
In these days, with public figures publicly trading insults in the most juvenile of ways, you’d be forgiven for thinking that good manners have gone the way of dial-up internet, scrunchies and the use of “whom.”
But I have real, not fake, news. Good manners are as important as ever. Perhaps more. Good manners keep society running smoothly, productively, even happily. And they’re free.
Please don’t listen to those who claim that it’s better to be “genuine,” that politeness is akin to artifice, and that saying “I’m sorry” is a sign of weakness. It may look as if those who use bullying to get what they want are succeeding, but all they’re really earning is the disrespect, mistrust and dislike of everyone around them.
Good manners, on the other hand, make you look good. They earn you the esteem, even love, of others. Those who make the effort to display basic courteousness have deeper, longer-lasting and more rewarding relationships. They are even more attractive to potential mates.
At work, good manners lead to better promotions and bigger raises. Treating people with respect and courtesy means that colleagues, customers and clients will be more likely to support you, agree with you, even do you favors. In fact, you could say that using good manners is actually in one’s own self interest. What’s more, these days, it’s an almost ridiculously easy way to stand out from the crowd.
Sure, sometimes it means placing the comfort and well-being of others ahead of your own. Sometimes it means taking the trouble to use language that puts people at ease, or not using language that makes them uncomfortable. How is this a big deal? Etiquette is the best investment you could ever make. It’s the classic win-win.
Yes, you do hear people insisting that behaving with courtesy makes you look like a chump, and that spouting off whatever we want is simply exercising our right to “free speech.” But you know what? This is not the world we live in, for the simple reason that this is not the world most people want to live in.
News flash: Most people still want to be treated with kindness, consideration and respect. Nothing fake about that.
Oh, and thanks for reading!
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use and of the novel “The Paris Effect.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.