Good Manners for Dealing With People

Good manners and basic etiquette help to create a respectful environment in which people can interact productively. The importance and extent of expected manners varies greatly depending on the situation. In general, people are far more relaxed and pay less attention to manners when at home with their families than when at a formal dinner with people they don't know well.

  1. Please and Thank You

    • Saying please and thank you are two basic, expected and easy ways to make your interactions with others more pleasant. Using the word "please" when asking for something is so common that people might notice when you don't do it. The same goes for thanking people when they have given you something, whether it is a newspaper, a ride home or a useful piece of advice. The intensity of thanks should be in proportion to what has been given. Nothing more than a brief and simple "thanks" is expected when a clerk hands you your change, but if someone rescues your dog from a raging river, a more elaborate expression of gratitude would be appropriate.

    Table Manners

    • Eating is a social activity that helps people bond with one another at the same time that it sustains their bodies. There are many subtle and arcane rules to follow at a formal dinner. In general, avoid bothering the people with whom you are eating, don't do anything that people would find distasteful, and excuse yourself from the table if you are about to experience any kind of bodily function.


    • Poor manners are often exhibited through creating excess noise. Unlike some rude behaviors, noise is difficult to overlook or ignore, even if someone wants to. Playing music loudly late at night when you have close neighbors, using a chainsaw early in the morning and laughing raucously in a nice restaurant are rude ways to create noise. Bodily functions that create noise are always considered poor manners. Babies who make noise in inappropriate places can't be blamed, but their parents should have the manners to remove them if the noise becomes continuous.


    • If and when a breach in manners does occur, the damage can be partially or fully repaired through a sincere and appropriate apology. As with thank yous, apologies should be scaled to their situation. If you accidentally bump someone on the street, you need not fall on your knees; a simple "sorry" will do. If you accidentally burn someone's house down, a more ardent apology, as well as some kind of compensation, will be expected. Whether your infraction was intentional or accidental, an apology can usually help to smooth things over.

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