Monday, May 30, 2011

Manners matter most because they show love.

Yesterday found me back in my home ward teaching a combined YW/YM lesson on manners.

They are a bunch of good kids, 5 of them my piano students even. Hard to imagine any of them being guilty of burping in public, but hey, we were all young once.

We did some role -playing and had a good discussion. They know manners are important, it’s just sometimes we forget that at their root is a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others.*

Which is why we don’t smack our lips, lick our fingers, or belch. We don’t chew with our mouth open, because others don’t want to see. We don’t put our elbows on the table, because it crowds others. We don’t burp out loud because it is unappetizing. We don’t take the biggest piece or take the biggest helping because it leaves nothing for others.
(Do you get the theme here? It’s about not offending others. )

Some think manners are a list of do’s and don’ts society has constructed to be all hoity-toity, but that’s not the point at all. We learn and practice table and social manners because it’s the kind thing to do. It’s Christ-like. The goal, always, is to consider others.

I think most of us are ill-mannered and rude not out of meanness but most likely out of cluelessness. But ignorance in protocol and respect can be quite costly. When you consider that good manners foster good will it’s risky to not read the social cues and behave accordingly. It makes people, well, not like you so much.

The discussion outline, then:

1. We can show respect/disrespect for Deity, People, Places, & Things

• People (God, Elderly, Peers, Parents, Teachers, Adults, Races, Children, Handicapped, etc)
• Places (Home, Cultural Events, School, Churches, Temples, etc)
• Things (Rules, Societal norms, Private Property, Ideas, etc)
• Respect for the Sacred
• Other

2. We show respect/disrespect through Words, Actions & Attitudes
Examples of disrespect:
• Making fun of, humor at another’s expense, teasing
• Name calling, put downs, sarcasm, gossiping, yelling, verbal abuse
• Casualness, inattentiveness, sloppiness, ignoring
• Hitting, punching, slapping, kicking, physical abuse of any kind
• Line cutting, talking on cell phone /texting inappropriately
• Talking when social situation requires silence, interrupting, dominating conversation
• Bad manners in social situations, ungentlemanly/unladylike behavior, rude/crude behavior
• Lack of self- control, inappropriate behavior, etc
• Not being loyal to those not there, talking behind their back
• Other

3. Reasons why we might show disrespect:

• Rationalize (think they don’t reserve respect)
• Ignorance (not aware of cultural norms, lack of social skills, not knowing what’s appropriate to the moment, being raised in a barn☺ etc)
• Self-centeredness (me, me, me!, impulsiveness, lack of self control, etc)
• Inexperience (being young and not having been in society or social situations much, insecurity, etc)
• Power/ Revenge (we want to feel in control or get back at others)
• Cruelty – (we like being mean, we lack empathy, etc)
• Other

We all, young and old, would like to become gracious and refined, I think. It is a natural fruit of the spirit. But we have to practice and rein in our behavior until thoughtfulness towards others becomes second nature and part of who are.

But forced or stiff manners, that’s no good either. Think Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice. Ugh. No, courtesy, good manners, graciousness is best when it is least obvious. If our behavior comes from the heart and a genuine concern for the well being of others then the rest will follow.

Don’t know how much the youth got from this lesson, but it was a needed reminder for me. There’s a lot I need to work on.

The YW/YM did give me chocolate as a thank you. I graciously and politely accepted.

*"Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use."
—Emily Post
A good place to brush up on the rules:

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