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Want to Get Ahead? Start With Nice Manners.


You’ve heard it one bajillion times – “Nice manners open doors.” 

(And if you had a mother like My Mother The English Teacher, you also heard “Table manners exists so people can stand to watch you eat.” But I digress.)

And as we move more rapidly into the Relationship Economy, I firmly believe nice manners will be the thing that separates those who move ahead quickly and those who flounder around wondering why no one is paying attention to them.

One of the critical skills I work on with my clients is building and strengthening our connections and relationships with people. And we talk a lot about how to draw people toward us in an inviting way.  Nothing does this faster than nice manners.

“Nice manners aren’t about you. They are about putting other people at ease.” – My Mother The English Teacher.

Let me ask you a question. Whom would you rather do business with? Someone who makes you feel at ease or someone who isn’t interested in how their presence makes you feel at all?

That’s what I thought.

To help us all sharpen up our ability to put others at ease, I thought I’d share a list of manners we are working on with the Young Turk that I cut out of Parents Magazine – along with my notes on how they apply to the business world we are in.

Tuck the list in your pocket the next time you go to a meetup, tweetup, event or other gathering of real live human being. Post them on the wall to use in your online interactions.

Manners Every Kid Needs By Age 9
by David Lowry, PH.D.

1) When asking for something, say “Please.” You wouldn’t believe how often this doesn’t happen.

2) When receiving something, say “Thank you.” See above.

3) Do not interrupt grown-ups [or anyone else for that matter] who are speaking with each other unless there is an emergency. They will notice you and respond when they are finished talking. Interrupting reveals an “it’s all about me” state of mind. Understandable in children. Not so much in grown-ups.

4) If you do need to get somebody’s attention right away, the phrase “excuse me” is the most polite way for you to enter the conversation.

5) When you have any doubt about doing something, ask permission first. It can save you many hours of grief later. (And yes I know the adage, “It is easier to ask forgiveness than to seek permission.” However, if it involves/impacts someone else, ask.)

6) The world is not interested in what you dislike. Keep negative opinions to yourself, or between you and your friends, out of earshot of adults. <ahem> yeah…I clearly need to work on this one…..:-)

7) Do not comment on other people’s physical characteristics unless, of course, it’s to compliment them, which is always welcome.

8) When people ask you how you are, tell them and then ask them how they are. This applies to us both online and in person.

9) When you have spent time at a friend’s house [or at a live gathering or guested on someone else’s blog] remember to thank his or her parents [The event or blog host in our case] for having you over and for the good time you had.

10) Knock on closed doors – and wait to see if there’s a response – before entering. Respect others need for privacy. Before barging at someone with what you want, tap on their “door” and ask if they have a minute.

11) When you make a phone call, introduce yourself first and then ask if you can speak with the person you are calling. In other words, don’t assume everyone knows who you are.

12) Be appreciative and say “thank you” for any gift you receive. In the age of email, a handwritten thank-you notes can have a powerful effect.

13) Never use foul language in front of adults. Grown-ups already know all those words and they find them boring and unpleasant. Or as My Mother STILL says to me “if you all you use is swear words, people will think you don’t have a decent vocabulary.”

14) Don’t call people mean names.

15) Do not make fun of anyone for any reason. Teasing show others you are weak and ganging up on someone else is cruel.

16) Even if a play or an assembly is boring, with through it quietly and pretend you are interested. The performers and presenters are doing their best. (Or quietly excuse yourself. Nothing is ruder than talking and making racket while someone is making a presentation.)

17) If you bump into somebody, immediately say “Excuse Me.”

18) Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and don’t pick your nose in public.

19) As you walk through a door, look to see if you can hold it open for someone else. I think of this as “who can I help get where I am?”

20) If you come across a parent, teacher or a neighbor working on something, ask if you can help. If they say “yes”, do so – you may learn something new. As I teach my clients, if you want someone’s help on something you are working on, help them with something they are working on first.

21) When an adult asks you for a favor, do it without grumbling and with a smile. I’m not advocating actually doing every favor you are asked for, but if it is possible for you to do it, consider saying “Sure!” with a smile on your face.

22) When someone helps you, say “thank you.” That person will likely want to help you again.

23) Use eating utensils properly. If you are unsure how to do so, ask your parents to teach you or watch what adults do. (If you need to know why this matters, scroll back to the top of this post and see what My Mother The English Teacher has to say.)

24) Keep a napkin in your lap; use it to wipe your mouth when necessary.

25) Don’t reach for things at the table; ask to have them passed.

So there you are. Twenty-five manners that will open doors.

Would love to hear your thoughts about this whole idea. Are nice manners necessary? Do people who know how to behave in a way that puts others at ease get ahead? Or do the “rude, crude and boorish” (bonus points for guessing who loves to say that) get ahead because it is sensational?

Can’t wait to read your comments!

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