“A man’s manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
As I was walking in to work this morning, I held a door for an older woman. Not only did she thank me for it, she told me to have a great day. The “thank you” was plenty, but having someone tell you to have a great day at 7:30 AM is a really good way to start a day. Unfortunately, far too often I see the exact opposite of this exchange, and I think it’s a real bummer. Instead of holding doors for others and saying “thank you” and “you’re welcome”, I regularly see folks letting doors slam in people’s faces or offering no thanks for someone who has extended a courtesy. Opening a door for someone this morning cost me exactly nothing. However, that act combined with the response meant enough for me to write a post about it hours later. There’s a correlation there, just as there is a correlation between displaying poor manners and the after-effects of those actions.
Growing up, having good manners wasn’t just something that was instilled in me and my siblings. It was an expectation. It was something that was expected of us by our parents because it was the right thing to do. There is a level of respect that is extended to others through good manners and general courteousness. It absolutely requires us to consider others in all interactions. I call people sir and ma’am. I hold doors for people. I say please, thank you, and you’re welcome. Early on, I probably did it simply because I was taught to. Now, I do it because I feel it exemplifies to others what type of person I am and what type of character I possess. This should be the norm, not a pleasant surprise.
In a lot of my posts I talk about effort, including making the effort to do small things that really require minimal effort. Having good manners and being courteous sincerely takes a small amount of effort, but the impact reaches much farther. I mean, honestly, would you rather deal with someone who treats you with an equal level of respect or someone that displays the characteristics of an uncaring a-hole? I think that’s pretty obvious choice, right? But it’s not commonplace, or at least not as commonplace as it should be. This is a direct effect of being too wrapped up in ourselves to care about someone else. Take the time to make the small effort to perform niceties for others. Say “thank you”. Say “you’re welcome”. Say “excuse me”. Hold the door for that person coming in behind you. Let someone in front of you in traffic, and give a courtesy wave when someone lets you in.
Let the mirror reflecting your portrait display someone that cares enough to care about others.
Have an awesome Thursday,