Manners Matter!

Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Fareed walks into the lounge where his dad is absent-mindedly flicking through the TV channels.

“I want the remote,” he says as he holds out his hand.

Dad looks at him thoughtfully for a moment and says, “Wouldn’t it sound better if you say, ‘Dad, may I have the remote please?’” Dad’s tone is more of a reprimand than an advice.

Fareed gives his father an embarrassed look and says, “Sorry dad, I will be careful in the future. Now please may I have the remote?”

Times have changed! So have the values about a lot of aspects of behaviour. In this fast paced world we are living in, most of us are in such a hurry that we have no time to meet the demands of good manners. An attitude which was totally unacceptable a generation back, is not even given a second thought by youngsters today.

My dear friends, I definitely do not want to imply that your generation is ill-mannered or discourteous. Actually, there is a very thin line between appearing ‘cool’ and being insolent. I feel that your concepts are a bit confused. The manners or behaviour you consider as old fashioned, are true for all times and all people, young or old.

On more than one occasion you must have heard from your parents, “Would you please mind your manners!” Maybe this is one sentence which, though short, is common to all parents all over the world — and perhaps very irritating for all children!

Often, unintentionally we make some lapses in our behaviour without meaning to be impolite or rude, but a timely correction from parents and elders goes a long way in laying the foundation of good manners.

A beautiful quote says “A parent can give a child no greater gift than beautiful manners.”

Let us discuss some basic principles of good manners. I am sure most of you follow these rules, but a reminder now and then helps in refreshing one’s behaviour. I assure you that practicing these simple guidelines will go a long way in guiding you towards a successful life.

First impression is not the last impression

It is often said that “The first impression is the last impression”. People usually agree with this saying, but I have a different view. Suppose in a party you meet a person for the first time. You are impressed by his looks and dressing, and want to be friends with him. But when he starts talking in a loud tone, boasts about his education or wealth or is rude to someone, you are bound to change your opinion at once.

Always behave in a dignified manner when you are in company. Never try to show off or impress others. When you are gentle, kind and polite, your actions will speak louder than your words.

To put it in a few words, “A man’s manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait” said Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the famous German literary figure.

Politeness is the foundation of good manners

Showing respect to the feelings of people around you, valuing their opinion and trying to be helpful, are all the qualities of a polite person. When an older person enters the room, stand up to greet him/her and offer your seat if there is no place to sit.

Hold the door for the person behind you when you enter an elevator/room. In a supermarket, if you see an elderly person or a young mother with kids, struggling with his/her heavy trolley, offer to help by pulling their trolley for them. In a queue, never push or try to move up in the line.

Keep a smiling face and a cheerful disposition when you are in company. Always be quick to give a compliment where it is deserved. Your kind words can make someone’s day.

Use the magic words often

‘Please’, ‘Thank you’ and ‘Sorry’ are the magic words which are sparingly used by people with good manners. Some children think it is not cool to use these words nowadays, but I assure you that using them often will help you throughout your life.

If you get a gift, do not take it for granted. When you say thanks or write a thank you note, you give the message that you appreciate the gesture and thoughtfulness of the person who has given you the gift.

Suppose you push someone by mistake in the school line or at a park. Instead of just walking away, don’t you think the shoved person will feel better if you say sorry? Try to put yourself in the other individual’s shoes and think what you would expect in such a situation.

When you ask for a favour, always begin your sentence with ‘please’. Even if you want a sibling to get a glass of water for you, don’t forget to use this magic word. Your words sound more like a request than an order, when you say please before asking for something.

Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Respect and love your parents and elders

Respect and love for our elders is an essential part of good manners. Never talk back to your parents, grandparents or teachers and listen politely when they are speaking.

Our parents are our best guides and mentors. At every stage of life, they endeavour to bring out the best in us. This may mean reprimands, scolding and punishments too, if we behave in an improper way. Often children feel resentful and sulky when they are scolded, but as they grow up and have to face the world on their own, they realise that their parents’ advise was for their own good.

Be thankful to your parents for their tireless efforts for your well-being and always be quick to lend a helping hand whenever you can. Try to the best of your abilities to make them proud of your appropriate behaviour, both at home and when you are in company.

Grandparents usually love you unconditionally and think that giving their advice or views on matters related to you are their right. Don’t be impolite if you have a different idea about something. At times you may not follow their advice or instructions, but never forget that they are much senior to you, both in age and experience. Even if your opinion is different from theirs’, don’t challenge them in company. You can discuss the issue later on and explain your point of view on the matter.

Teachers play an important role in our lives and lay the foundations of our future. Always be respectful to them and value the hard work they put in to your education.

Be kind to younger ones

A very important component of good manners is to be loving and kind towards your siblings, friends and cousins. Help them when they need your assistance and try to settle disputes amicably. Children are often confused when the word respect is used for those younger than them, but every human being deserves respect. Remember that all of us, young or old, have an ego, which is hurt by rude or unkind words and behaviour.

Your younger siblings often idealise you and feel proud in following in your footsteps. Be a good example for them and pass on the good values you have learnt from your parents, without being harsh. Often, a loving advice goes deeper than an inconsiderate reprimand.

The way you talk is a mirror to your manners

The way you speak in company is a reflection of your upbringing and background. Keep your tone polite and courteous and make eye contact when someone is speaking to you. Always make the person you are conversing with, feel that you respect him. Never interrupt when a discussion is going on and if you have to say something, always use “Excuse me please” before starting to talk.

While talking to someone, try to stick to topics which are of common interest. Don’t keep bragging about yourself, your achievements or your family, as these are not a mark of good manners. Holding your temper when someone is rude to you proves that your manners are much better than the offender’s.

The right way to argue

Disagreements are a test for our manners and upbringing. Respect for the opinion of the participants in the argument proves that you know proper etiquettes.

Never raise your voice to prove your point, because this would in no way support your opinion. Nor make it a matter of your self-esteem and move away from arguments if you cannot win. Remember that participating in debates/discussions is a way to widen your concepts on different issues and also increase your knowledge.

Table manners are important

Very little importance is given to table manners these days. My parents had very strict rules for me and my siblings. Here I shall relate a few of them:

• Never complain about food, even if it is not your favourite.

• Never bring a book, toy or other unrelated things (there were no cell phones in my childhood) to the dining table!

• Wait for the elders to start before you fill your plate.

• Don’t try to grab the best portion.

• Stay on the table until everyone has finished eating.

• Always make light conversation while eating.

• If something serious has to be discussed it can wait, till after lunch/dinner time.

I feel that writing about good manners is like trying to fit an ocean in a cocoon. I could go on and on but have to stop somewhere!

I would like to sum up with a saying of Hazrat Ali R.A, the fourth caliph of Islam “Good manners are your beauty.”

Published in Dawn, Young World, October 27th, 2018

A Simple Guide to Popularity

All of us want to be popular among our family, peers and teachers, but very few of us know the simple tips which make us better-liked than others. We usually look up with admiration to people who are more popular than us and sometimes even envy them.

It may interest you to know that we only have to follow some simple rules to gain popularity. Read and follow this simple guide to popularity and gain admiration within your social circle in no time.

Share and care

Generally, people who have a high graph of popularity are quick to share their blessings with their acquaintances. Whether it is a book, a gadget or a meal, they like to share their belongings with people around them and even happily give these things away, whether as a gift or a loan.

meal, they like to share their belongings with people around them and even happily give these things away, whether as a gift or a loan.

Popular people also love to share their joys and sorrows with friends and family. They are sympathetic when they find their friends in a problem and always try to be first to congratulate others in their moments of joy. They are quick to show people in their circle that they are an important part of their lives.

Caring for people around us endears us to their hearts. A kind word, a sincere advice and a helping hand in difficult times, and sometimes even a gesture as simple as offering to carry someone’s load, are small acts which have far-reaching effects.

Try to visit the aged in your family, especially when they are not well or at least call them from time to time. These small acts will make a special place for you in their hearts.

Always remember that a soft voice, which expresses a logical view, is more effective than a loud one. Soft-spoken people are usually popular as everyone feels more comfortable in talking to them.

Politeness always pays

Being polite is the easiest way to win over someone. It may be holding the door for the person who enters a room or car, offering your seat to an elderly person who cannot find a place in a bus or standing up when someone older than you enters the room. These are endearing gestures, which people do not forget easily.

Always try to be the first to greet friends when you meet them. Take interest in their activities and ask simple questions to show that you give importance to them. Listen politely and never interrupt someone when they are speaking. Always wait for your turn when you are in a discussion.

Remember, ‘Thank you’, ‘please’ and ‘sorry’ are magic words which are a mark of politeness and good upbringing. Using these words habitually will add to your popularity.

Be a good listener

Most of us seem to be in love with our own voice. Instead of listening attentively to what our friends or peers have to say, we like to speak non-stop without caring whether people around us are interested in what we are talking about or not!

Most of the times, it is better to take interest in what people around us are discussing. When we listen with interest, we are bound to gain knowledge and learn to perceive things with an angle different from ours. When friends are talking about their problems, only if we listen attentively, we will understand their troubles better and be able to give out a word of advice where needed.

While discussing a current issue or a hot topic, we usually get over excited and raise our voices to try to drown out those around us. Always remember that a soft voice, which expresses a logical view, is more effective than a loud one. Soft-spoken people are usually popular as everyone feels more comfortable in talking to them.

Light the world with a smile

Have you ever wondered why you take an instant liking to a new teacher if she enters the classroom with a smile on her face? Often we have to go to a party or wedding where we know very few people. On entering the venue, as we look around for a seat, we are instinctively drawn to a person with a smiling demeanour. We are more comfortable with a doctor who wears a smile on his face.

Remember that a smile has a magnetic and endearing power. It is also highly infectious and has the power to cheer up people around us. Learn to smile even if you don’t feel like doing so. All of us have problems, but wearing a sulking look will not solve them in anyway. People who have a smiling face are definitely more popular than those who habitually wear a frown.

Be helpful

Helping out people around us is a very endearing habit. You may help a classmate in subjects he/she finds difficult, help your mum by sharing her workload, take care of your younger siblings or run an errand for your grandparents or an elderly neighbour.

You may be better than your parents or grandparents at computers, tabs or cellphones. Never complain if they ask for your help repeatedly. Consideration for others with a quick helping hand is a simple quality which makes one popular.

Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Kindness is cool

Speak lovingly with your younger siblings and cousins, and be kind to them. Take interest in their activities in order to show how much you care for them.

Never be harsh or rude to your maid, driver or any other person employed by your parents. Listen with sympathy if at times they discuss their problems with

you. Help them out whenever you possibly can.

Give away your extra toys, clothes and books to the needy people around you. They will be more than grateful for your compassion. Remember that kindness always pays back positively.

Personal grooming is paramount

At first thought you may feel that this tip is not related to popularity. But in my opinion, a person looking fresh and neatly dressed is always better liked than those who do not care about their personal hygiene. We usually shun people who smell of perspiration, have a foul breath or are generally untidy.

Keep your nails trimmed neatly and hair properly brushed. Shower daily, brush your teeth twice a day and be sure to use a deodorant when going out. You do not have to spend a lot on these things; only adopting healthy habits will make you well-groomed and attractive to others.

Try out these simple and easy tips to be better liked in your circle. I am sure you will find your graph of popularity rise in no time.

Published in Dawn, Young World, October 7th, 2017


Attitude: Endear yourself!

By Yasmin Elahi
April 3rd, 2010 

All of us want to be popular among our peers, relatives, teachers and all the people around us. But often we see that some children are more popular than others. Friends and relatives are attracted to them, teachers have a soft corner for them and peers respect them (however grudgingly). 

Have you ever tried to find out what qualities endear these children to everyone? It is their good manners, their etiquette or behaviour and consideration for the feelings of others which gives them this popularity. Here are some important ways to win the hearts of friends and relatives.

Always remember to say `Please` and `Thank you`. When you are asking for something, if you say please, even if it is a small favour, it appears that you are making a request rather than a demand. In the same way, when you receive a gift, when someone gives you a compliment or even when someone steps aside to let you pass, saying thanks is an important rule of good manners. It shows that you are grateful for the gift, compliment and consideration, and you appreciate the person who has given it to you. It also shows courtesy on your behalf. 

Never forget to say `Sorry`. Although some children may find saying `sorry` quite difficult, it is a basic aspect of good manners and a quality which will quickly endear you to everyone. If you have hurt someone (physically or emotionally), forgot to fulfil a promise, or misbehaved with an elder, `sorry` is the magic word which wipes out all ill feelings. 

When you are in a public place, it may be a doctor`s waiting room, a supermarket or a restaurant, show your respect for your elders by opening doors for them and offering them your seat if there is no place for them to sit. Most of us are too busy in our lives to pay attention to old people and we seem to forget that they often feel lonely. A kind word to them, enquiring about their health (or any other problem) and even listening to them attentively would brighten up their day and will go a far way in winning their hearts.

Never let a discussion turn into a quarrel. We all have different opinions on every matter and the rule to remember is that everyone has a right to his/her own opinion. Often we see an argument turn into a heated debate. Wait for your turn when you are having a discussion and do not try to raise your voice over others to get your point through. It is healthy to argue with friends and peers but the discussion should be polite and informative. Do not forget that difference in views is sometimes due to the diversity of race, traditions or religion. Show your respect to the other one`s views even if you do not agree with him/her.

An important rule of good manners is never to interrupt someone when he/she is speaking. A patient listener is more liked than an ardent speaker. Especially when someone older than you is talking to you, listen attentively and answer politely. Be courteous to your elders and treat them with respect. Even if you are irritated, never speak rudely to anyone. Remember that a smiling face is more popular than one with a frown.

Always be ready to help. You may be better at some subjects in school, so helping out your class fellows if they are having difficulties, would make you a well liked peer. Whenever it is possible, offer a helping hand to your elders. Carrying a load for someone in a supermarket, helping an old person to cross the road, or lending a helping hand to your mother in house hold chores, are gestures which show that you care and would definitely endear you to their hearts.

Be a good sport. Some children tend to turn nasty if they lose a game. Remember that there always has to be a winner and a loser in a game. If you win, do not boast or degrade your opponent. And if you lose, do not sulk; accept your defeat graciously and congratulate your opponent open heartedly. The time you spent enjoying the game should be more important than the fact that you won or lost it. 
Good manners, consideration for the people around us and proper etiquette of behaviour indicate a good upbringing and are a mark of a respectable social background. So mind your manners and happily watch the graph of your popularity rise!

The list of do’s and dont’s is never ending, but the above mentioned are only a few tips to guide you how to endear yourself to the people around you. Good luck!