A mat­ter of ci­vil­ity.

Woman's Era - - Contents - DP Sab­har­wal

Man­ner is a way of do­ing some­thing or the way in which a thing is done – e.g. she stared at me in an ac­cus­ing man­ner or he was elected sec­re­tary in an un­usual man­ner, with­out vot­ing.

Add suf­fix ‘s’ and the re­sult­ing word ‘man­ners’ means quite dif­fer­ently.

While man­ner is con­cerned with the way you handle your­self, man­ners are con­cerned with oth­ers. In sim­ple terms, it means the way of be­hav­ing with oth­ers, es­pe­cially the ways that are so­cially cor­rect and show re­spect for oth­ers’ com­fort and feel­ings e.g. he lacked man­ners as he kept in­ter­rupt­ing the speaker or she dis­played good man­ners as she helped the el­derly peo­ple to get up.

It is com­monly said that it is the man­ners that cor­rectly and ac­cu­rately de­scribe a na­tion, a so­ci­ety, and the in­di­vid­u­als who are part of it. The man­ners de­pend on in­di­vid­ual cul­ture and race. It also de­pends upon the devel­op­ment and evolv­ing of a coun­try as a whole.

The core of good man­ners is good be­hav­iour, which is based on the good­ness of heart, po­lite­ness, mercy, kind­ness, em­pa­thy and so on. Most of the time, it re­flects on an in­di­vid­ual’s groom­ing and up­bring­ing. Above all, it helps an in­di­vid­ual to rise not only in one’s own eyes but in the eyes of col­leagues and so­ci­ety as well. The bot­tom line how­ever is what Lil­ian Gish said: ‘You can get through life with bad man­ners, but it is eas­ier with good man­ners.’

Con­sider these

Not walk­ing in the mid­dle of the road. Be­ing on time. Not spit­ting on the floor. Of­fer­ing your seat to a lady. Talk­ing po­litely. Be­ing re­spect­ful to el­derly peo­ple. Try­ing to be dis­creet and quiet when blow­ing your nose. Not yawn­ing with open mouth or stretch­ing legs in front of oth­ers. Not in­ter­rupt­ing when peo­ple are in­volved in a con­ver­sa­tion. Say­ing ‘Please’ or ‘Thank you’ ev­ery time some­one helps you even in small mea­sures. These and other niceties may seem triv­ial to many, but it all mat­ters. When you do not use the man­ners

that peo­ple have come to ex­pect – like fail­ing to open the door for a wo­man, for in­stance – it is not sim­ply a sign that you are clue­less; it shows a lack of con­sid­er­a­tion and lack of good man­ners.

Good man­ners are not a mat­ter of sim­ply ‘fol­low­ing the rules and dis­play­ing good be­hav­iour’. What is im­por­tant is the rea­son un­der­ly­ing the de­sired be­hav­iour. Man­ners mat­ter, be­cause man­ners are re­ally about show­ing re­spect for an­other per­son. When you hold the door for a wo­man, it is not be­cause she can­not open it her­self or there's a rule that says you should. You do so be­cause it is an act of kind­ness and a way to make the wo­man feel spe­cial.

Let us con­sider a few sim­ple sce­nar­ios on the other side of the can­vass. Star­ing at women. Talk­ing down to women. Ig­nor­ing oth­ers opin­ions. In­ter­rupt­ing. Not in­tro­duc­ing them. Sim­ply ig­nor­ing them al­to­gether. Walk­ing sev­eral steps ahead of her rather than be­side her. Well, such a be­hav­iour just can­not be brushed aside as be­ing rude or in­con­sid­er­ate. In fact, it rep­re­sents a fun­da­men­tal lack of per­sonal re­spect. To be fair, most of the time, such be­hav­iour is not in­ten­tional. It sim­ply hap­pens be­cause peo­ple ei­ther ‘switch-off’ their think­ing un­con­sciously or wan­der off on a mind jour­ney. Now, what­ever the case may be, the fact is, one is in­con­sid­er­ate and, by plain logic, dis­re­spect­ful or ill-man­nered!

Give it a thought

The whole game of get­ting no­ticed and get­ting re­spect and recog­ni­tion in what­ever you do when with oth­ers is about con­cern and re­spect for those other peo­ple. Con­sider the fol­low­ing sce­nar­ios and try to un­der­stand the prin­ci­ple be­hind each of the acts. The need for dis­play­ing good man­ners would sur­face loud and clear.

✿ Re­clin­ing our seat even when it presses against an­other pas­sen­ger's knees.

✿ Dis­cussing oth­ers’ short­com­ings while brag­ging about our own strengths. ✿ Forc­ing food or bev­er­ages on guests so as to prove to be a good host.

✿ En­ter­ing a closed room with­out knock­ing or ask­ing per­mis­sion.

✿ See­ing a stranded per­son in the mid­dle of the road, carry on driv­ing.

✿ Play­ing loud mu­sic in your own room, or in your car.

✿ Not telling the boss about your leave-plan till the last mo­ment.

✿ Throw­ing out the skins of fruits or wafer-pack­ets’ outer cov­ers from a run­ning car.

The win­ner

Once, the chair­man of a close­ly­held company de­cided to re­tire, he started look­ing for a suit­able re­place­ment. Af­ter a fairly in­volved se­lec­tion pro­ce­dure, he ze­roed on to two of his sub­or­di­nates who were equally com­pe­tent, hard­work­ing and loyal to the company. One had an ex­cel­lent record in cer­tain ar­eas, while the other held sim­i­lar rat­ing in cer­tain other ar­eas. The chair­man was re­ally un­able to de­cide whom to se­lect as his suc­ces­sor.

Then one day he in­vited both of them to his house for drinks and din­ner. As the din­ner was an­nounced, and the three of them started mov­ing to­wards the din­ing hall, he said, “Gentle­men the din­ner would last for more than an hour, so in case you wish to ease-out, you may use the wash-room.” Both of them used the fa­cil­ity one af­ter an­other. As they moved to the din­ing hall, the Chair­man had de­cided that the per­son who vis­ited the wash­room af­ter the first one, deserved to be his suc­ces­sor.

This real-life in­ci­dent was pub­lished many decades ago. How do you think the ‘suc­ces­sor’ was de­cided? Well, on the ba­sis of man­ners. The Chair­man had heard the noise of flush­ing the toi­let by the sec­ond man and not by the first one.

Sounds bizarre? May be, but it is not so on care­ful scru­tiny. When the first per­son went in, he had a clean toi­let to use but, by not flush­ing it, he had left a dirty one for the next per­son! Yes, de­cent man­ners can take an in­di­vid­ual to the top.


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