Good Manners: Where Are They Now?


How many of you have been cut off while driving this week? What about had someone let a door close on you? Or received a response just as ‘yeah’ or been ignored completely?

If you answered yes to any of these, just know you are part of a large group of people who suffer from people with bad manners (I’m guessing 75 percent of the population). Normally, I would blame the holiday season because people behave at their worst this time of year, but the lack of good manners is just how society has evolved.

I wasn’t raised in a strict household and forced to say yes ma’am, no sir, etc. I remember my dad trying to instill this in me, but most times I refused because I didn’t respect him. As I grew up, I learned you should use these responses with elders, bosses, parents, and pretty much anyone – especially if you respect them. But most people don’t say please and thank you, so should we expect them to go a little further? Yes.

And here’s why: good manners are dying off. I remember saying yes ma’am to a manager several years ago, and she said, “Don’t call me ma’am, it makes me sound old.” Really? Having someone show respect makes people feel old? I never quite broke the habit, and still answer my desk phone yes ma’am or yes sir whenever possible. Of course, I didn’t want this woman – who was the same age as me – to feel old, but I would always show respect because I had no reason not to. People don’t do this anymore because they simply don’t care. ‘Yeah’ seems acceptable. People seem too busy to have good manners, and I have two words for that: bull stuffings.

What to Do

When I’m at work or a store and hold the door for someone, most times they look shocked. And I’m shocked at their response. I expect people to hold the door, and they should too. If you get to a door first and someone is right behind you, hold it. If someone is coming out and you are going in, open it. It’s probably the easiest thing to do in a day and can make someone smile or feel respected. And this doesn’t apply to just women. Men seem just as shocked and appreciated, and at the end of the day, we’re all the same. We’re just people.

Driving is probably the worst example of bad manners. The Nashville area is notorious for having bad drivers, and one reason is because people feel where they have to go is more important than everyone else. Tail-gating, honking, cut-offs, taking someone’s turn at a stop sign are things I experience every day. We all need to just take a deep breath and relax. Cutting someone off will save you a whopping three seconds and could cause a wreck, so it’s not worth it. And you may find someone who has good manners and will let you into traffic because they know what it feels like to wait. No matter how hard we try, we’re always going to have to wait.

Let’s not allow good manners to die. One person can make a huge difference, and maybe we can get back to a point where it’s not so rare. Good manners have been lost in older generations for so long, so if you’re younger than 50 and reading this, think about it. With a little change in our day-to-day, we can make the world a little easier to live in.