Mind your manners

February 18, 2017

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Being a kid isn’t easy. Except for babies and toddlers, who get away with everything and still get to be called cute, one wrong step from all the others sees them labelled as rude. Preteens and teens are peculiarly placed in a difficult situation as sometimes they are treated as kids, and at others they are expected to act as adults. Acting on instincts and feelings, even well-meaning ones, is not always acceptable in the adult world as there are social codes and protocols to be followed.

Society does things in a certain way and these ways are the reflection of the religious, cultural and family values of its members. However, there are some universal manners that are considered as good in all cultures and those that are looked upon as wrong behaviour. Knowing good manners is important to live a civilised life, but knowing what is considered bad manners is, perhaps, more important to be a better person.

The way we treat others, react to situations even if they are uncomfortable and how we present ourselves in public, make up our personality and grooming.

bad manners is, perhaps, more important to be a better person.

The way we treat others, react to situations even if they are uncomfortable and how we present ourselves in public, make up our personality and grooming.

So let us learn how to become a better person by knowing proper etiquettes and manners in different situations.

Etiquettes at home

When we are at home and with our loved ones, we tend to be more relaxed and carefree, we don’t behave as courteously as we do when we are outside with others.

But manners are not just to make the right impression, but also to avoid offending or making others uncomfortable with something that we do or miss out on doing. So showing good manners at home will give us the practice to do it when around others. And proper etiquettes will also make our parents happy and they will trust us to do the right thing at other times too.

Greetings: When you get up in the morning, wish your family members “Assalaamu ‘Alaikum” and “Good morning” and also greet them when you return home, even if you had just been playing outside.

Be responsible: Do your share of work at home, such as keeping your room neat, cleaning up after you make a mess, helping mum set the table and clean up later, washing the dishes and folding the laundry.

These things or chores are not gender specific and both boys and girls should be doing it. And being responsible at home will teach you to take up and fulfil your responsibilities in school and later on in your career.

Get along with family: Whether you live with just your parents and siblings or in a joint family, you may not get along well with everyone all the time. Accept everyone’s different personalities and act accordingly, this will show you how to get along with others in life.

Do as you’re told: Parents know better so if they are asking you to do something or not to do a certain thing, then just obey them without arguing or asking for reasons. If they want to explain to you why they are saying what they are saying, they will tell you themselves.

Do not interrupt: When someone is talking, let them finish first. And don’t interrupt grown-ups who are speaking with each other, you can say “Excuse me” to get their attention.

Knock on closed doors: If the door to a room is closed, knock on it and wait for the response and act accordingly.

Don’t pick your nose in public: Clean it with a tissue or handkerchief, or go to the washroom, clean it properly and wash your hands afterwards.

When you cough, sneeze or yawn, cover your mouth. Say “Alhamdulillah” or “Excuse me” when you sneeze.

Excuse me: If you bump into someone, sneeze, burp or make any loud noise, the polite thing is to say “Excuse me”.

Open doors for others: And when you pass through a door, keep the door open for the person entering next if they are close behind you. And don’t close doors loudly with a bang, it’s very rude.

Use the magic words: When you ask someone for something, say “Please” even if the person is younger than you.

When you receive something, say ‘Thank you’ and the person’s name. And when you have hurt someone in anyway, say “I’m sorry” and the sooner it is said the more effective it will be.

Praise: It is your mum’s job to cook yummy food for you, but if you also complement her for this job that she is doing for free, it will make her day. And she will soon return the complement by making something more special for you!

Be a good neighbour: Always greet neighbours, don’t litter outside their house, don’t play so loudly that they get disturbed or their property gets damaged.

Etiquettes with friends

As you grow, your social life and friends’ circle increases. Showing good manners to your friends will make them appreciate you more and get you more friends.

Greetings are important: Always smile and greet others warmly. A cheerful greeting sets the tone for a cheerful meeting. Ask them “How are you?” and when you are asked, tell them how you are.

Be on time: It is very rude to keep others waiting as it can mess up their plans and they will avoid including or inviting you for activities.

Don’t be a snob: Never treat anyone as inferior, even if you don’t get along with them. Avoid the people you don’t like or who don’t treat you well, but always behave with dignity and kindness.

Avoid gossip: Don’t say bad things about other people, even if they are true. If you gossip behind others’ back, others will also gossip about you. When someone will get to know something bad they said about you and confront you about it, you will be very embarrassed and ashamed, so why bring shame to yourself.

Also walk away when you hear others badmouthing someone. Don’t be an associate in such toxic talks.

Don’t share too much personal information: Your friends don’t need to know all that’s happening in your life and sometimes they would not even be interested in it, so keep private information private, especially those concerning your family matters.

Be a good sport: When playing games, don’t cheat and don’t end up fighting if you lose. Cooperate with teammates and give your best without trying to sideline anyone.

Be careful when you play pranks: Joking around and playing pranks are part of what friendship is all about, but we can hurt our best friends by going too far. So pranks should not embarrass or traumatise and hurt anyone.

Be kind to people with a disability: Show kindness but not pity to anyone with a disability because they may not be able to do some things but are very good at other things. They are very sensitive to how others perceive them so don’t stare at them or ask them awkward questions, just act normally with them as they are normal people with ‘different abilities’.

Mind the time: If you are calling a friend or going to their house, make sure it is not at an odd time, like mealtime or bedtime, so as not to disturb them or intrude at their family time.

Listen more: Don’t speak all the time, give others a chance to talk too. When someone speaks, give them full attention and don’t interrupt. Show interest in what they are saying and ask questions to show your interest. A conversation is a two-way traffic.

Don’t condemn physical appearance: No negative comments about the physical features and appearance of others. God made everyone and not everyone can look very groomed all the time, so even if you find someone’s way of dressing, hairstyle, voice, etc., funny and unusual, don’t condemn or laugh. You can always complement others, but do so with sincerity.

Do not use bad or foul language: These days it is considered very cool to use slang and foul language, especially when you are with friends. But this isn’t right. As we spend a lot of time talking with friends, the impolite words we use with them will become a habit and you will end up doing this when with others too. Vocabulary makes a man, a foul vocabulary will just end up making you appear as an uncivilised person.

No name calling: Call people by their names but not other names. It is common to give names to people, such as ‘fatty’, ‘shorty’, etc., but it will be hurtful if you make that name common knowledge and publicly call them that.

Thank your friends: Show your gratitude to your friends when they do something for you and when you spent time at your friend’s house, thank their parents for having you over and for the good time you had.

Published in Dawn, Young World, February 18th, 2017