Another GO Challenge? Yes, please!

Spirit

September GO Challenge:
Mind your manners.

Keep your elbows off the table. Say please and thank you. Don’t talk with your mouth full… Remember your mom repeating words like these to a younger version of you? As always, mom was right. Good manners are an essential part of a good life.

They’re the basis of our social connectedness in the world. Without proper manners, it’s nearly impossible to make friends, land a job, or find a romantic partner. After all, who wants to spend time with an ill-mannered oaf? But when you treat others with kindness and respect, they almost always return the favor — creating a circle of positivity, good feelings and opportunity around you.

Here are just a few of the many benefits of having good manners:

  • Greater happiness — Research shows that when you’re kind to others, you feel happier. And the happier you feel, the more likely you are to be kind. It’s a continual loop of positive reinforcement.
  • Better relationships — Not surprisingly, relationships improve when you treat family, friends and co-workers with a little more courtesy. As Maya Angelou once said, “…people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  
  • Better health — If good manners lead to better relationships, then they also lead to better health. People with strong social connections tend to have lower rates of anxiety and depression, higher self-esteem, and stronger immune systems.
  • More gratitude — When parents teach their children to say thank you, they’re not only instilling proper manners, they’re cultivating a sense of gratitude. And a grateful heart means a happier heart, not to mention a longer life.
  • Greater opportunity — Good manners can be especially valuable when you’re competing for a job or promotion. A person who sends a thank you note after a job interview, for instance, will stand out over a less polite competitor.
  • Lower risk of auto accidents — Perhaps there’s no place where proper etiquette is more important than behind the wheel. A driver who respects other vehicles (and pedestrians) — and doesn’t engage in road rage — is less likely to be involved in a collision.

Make a conscious effort to notice your manners. Are you courteous? Do you wait your turn, open doors for others, and say thank you? Or do you tend to look out for number one? Also, pay attention to how you treat your family. Are you actually kinder to strangers than you are to the people you live with?

Simple ways to be polite.

Any time you’re with another person, it’s an opportunity to practice good manners. By making a conscious effort to always be polite — thinking of the other person’s comfort ahead of yours — you can quickly become a member of the good manners club. Here are some simple ways to be courteous to others (including family!):

  • Smile and be friendly. It takes almost no effort to smile and say hello, but that little bit of courtesy goes a long way with others. If you know the person’s name, use it. Make eye contact. Ask how they’re doing. It’ll put you both in a better mood.
  • Be on time. Showing up late is another way of saying that your time is more valuable than someone else’s. Don’t disrespect friends and family by keeping them waiting. Be there when you say you will.
  • Wait your turn. We’re always in such a hurry. But the polite choice is to wait your turn, let others go first, and never interrupt someone in mid-thought. In most cases, waiting a few seconds isn’t going to hurt you one bit.
  • Be a good listener. Being polite involves more than just saying “please,” “thank you,” “you’re welcome” and “excuse me.” It also means listening. Hear what others have to say and respond to their concerns. Don’t always try to steer the conversation back to you.
  • Say thanks. When someone does something nice for you, make it a point to thank them. Send a thank you note, write an email, or simply acknowledge them with a heartfelt “thank you.” People love to be recognized, and you’ll feel better, too, by focusing on your gratitude.
  • Use proper table manners. There’s no need to obsess over which fork to use when, but at least try not to offend your fellow diners. Wait for all to be served before digging in, don’t talk with your mouth full, avoid reaching across people for the saltshaker, chew quietly, and put your cell phone away while at the table (more cell phone etiquette in Week 3).
  • Introduce people. When you’re at a party or social gathering in which you’re the only one who knows two parties, be sure to make introductions. Failure to do so is not just laziness — it’s a sign of bad manners, and your acquaintances will recognize it as such.
  • Remove your hat (sometimes). Although you’re no longer expected to take off your hat indoors, you’d still be wise to remove it for a job interview or business meeting — or if it’s blocking someone’s view (e.g., at a concert or in church). It’s also a sign of respect to stand and remove your hat for the playing of the national anthem.
  • Don’t speak badly of others. You know the old adage, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” It’s true. Never say anything about a person that you wouldn’t say to their face. You’ll be respected for it, and you’ll feel better about yourself, too. Always be polite in what you do — and say.