Are good manners dead?

I think being polite is one of the most important things in someone’s upbringing. I try to address people as Sir in professional settings. Even online I try to be as respectful as I can. It seems to me that other people do not understand manners and what is polite or not in today’s world. Take this article for example; (Manners, courtesy things of the past?)

Excerpts from the article.

Nearly 70 percent of the 1,001 people surveyed in an Associated Press-Ispos poll said they feel people are more rude than they were 20 or 30 years ago. Those living in densely populated cities said they see more instances of bad manners than those living in rural areas.

People now a days look at the values from 20 or 30 years ago as laughable. Why would someone walk around all shinny and happy like in the movies? Is Pleasantville such a bad place to live?

Aside from that movie being about a sheltered place from the past, it did have a lot of positives to draw from. People being polite and courteous towards one another in every day life can go a long way. Watching a stand up performance by Ellen Degeneres the other day I was really not laughing as much as saddened by her pointing out that when people ask; how are you doing? they are really just expecting a one word answer; anything beyond that would be considered a drag on someone’s time.

Ninety-three percent of those surveyed said they blame parents the most for the deterioration of etiquette. Others have blamed Hollywood and the media for glorifying crude behavior.

Hollywood at times really gets on my nerves, don’t even get me started on how they portray Colombia… but as far as rudeness I do believe that they have done their share of glorifying crude behavior, where thug, rough and bad boy images are representative of being ‘cool’. I do believe that parents are the most responsible. I know my parents were strict, but it taught me a lot about respect. I had to answer to my Mom, yes Mom after she would address me. Now something like that would be almost laughed at in our society.

Sonia Valerez, 41, of Victorville and mother of two, said she blames the increased population since the 1960s. She said that longer lines everywhere and the dog-eat-dog mentality needed to negotiate a crowd these days has led to people becoming increasingly inconsiderate of each other.

“It just seems like there’s people everywhere, you know,” said Valerez. “We spend so much time just fighting for ourselves that we don’t have time to worry about other people’s feelings. Nice guys finish last.”

Valerez said that she tries hard to teach her youngsters to respect the elderly.

“I tell them older people are some one’s parents, probably,” she said. “Treat old people like you would treat me. That’s where I draw the line.”

Is our society moving forward while forgetting the good things from the past. Some of the values that I think of when I hear the word respect or manners are now lost or viewed as antiquated by today’s standards. I used to be a gentleman, but after being in the dating world and even at work and getting chastised by women saying I can do it myself, don’t treat me like a woman, I lost a lot of that if not all of it.

I remember one day walking in the parking toward the office, I was new at this company at the time and back then had not worked with many women but this office was about 80% female. As I got closer to the building I see one of the people that I had seen around my department struggling with a couple of boxes. I asked, “Can I help you carry those.” She turned around with an offended look in her face and said “Do you think that because I am a women I cannot carry them myself?” I apologized and kept on walking. This happened in other occasions, to the point that I just stopped trying to help women carry things and even stopped holding doors.

Every morning as I enter the building that I work at now, I say good morning to the receptionist. When I first started here she almost looked surprised at me saying good morning. What is sad is that I am one of a handful of people that I have see do it. The receptionist herself does not greet the people that work for the company every morning as they come in. Greeting people to me is very important; it establishes that human connection that I think is missing in our society. While we all live in our own little worlds there is nothing wrong with building bridges with others by greeting people with simple smile or a kind word.

What is sadder is how our society sees the elderly. They are not a resource to us anymore but rather a burden. My Mother made me promise as a kid that I would never send her to a nursing home; I can only hope to be able to fulfill that promise. I think the concept of respecting your elders is lost in today’s youth, and the disconnection that we have with our elders even in our generation gets to the point that reconnecting requires complete rewiring. We try to empathize with our kids on how we felt that our parents did not understand us, or did not get us. I think today’s kids lack the sense that your parents know best, that I think our generation still did somewhere in the back of our heads.

So where do we go from here? I looked for guides to good manners and found this link. While it is a good start and it has a lot of tips for people that are parents, I believe that it takes making the decision that from today on I will try to be more polite. Say thanks, and greet people with a smile… and when you say how are you doing? mean it.

8 comments on “Are good manners dead?

  1. Great post.

    It’s a shame how manners are sometimes completely absent. People often look at me like I’m going to assault them here when I say hello to a stranger on the street. Obviously I don’t say hello to everyone on a crowded sidewalk, but if I’m walking around my apartment complex or something and pass someone and say “hello,” they look at me like I’m nuts. It’s very different from where I grew up and I’ve unconciously adopted a colder attitude (which I don’t like.) I miss being able to strike up a conversation with strangers or just saying “hi” to someone simply because it’s the polite thing to do.

    A few years ago, I was working for a company and was introduced to an executive on the company’s board of directors. I was probably 25 at the time, this man was probably about 75 years old. After being introduced and shaking hands, I said, “I’m pleased to meet you sir.” He stood there for a second and said, “Do you know how long it’s been since someone called me sir in this organization? That attitude will carry you far son, it’s good to see someone with some respect for his elders.”

    I now have a six month old son, and I’m going to do everything I can to instill the traditional, polite behavior that my parents instilled in me. I see some of the kids around today and can’t believe the way they talk to their parents or strangers. I would’ve been beaten within an inch of my life if I spoke the way these kids do in public.

  2. Nice post… me hace meditar en que no debemos caer en la monotonia de lo que TODO el mundo hace y empezar a poner DE MODA los good manners!!

  3. Well here’s the problem Logtar: most people when they say “hi” don’t mean it. Our fast paced capitalism has a lot to do with why people don’t take the time to smell the roses or enjoy people’s company. I remember a post you wrote on one time about that very issue, and I very much agree to that.

    Logtar, but you cannot expect everyone to be as friendly or as outgoing as you, lol. Maybe some people are not happy at their jobs (most aren’t) and they are not in the mood to do so. On the other hand, I understand what you mean though about being curteous. I’m the same way in person. Being genuine to people goes a long way.

  4. I would never dismiss a man who helps me with carrying something. I do think you raise a great point, and while I do try to treat people with respect, I also have a short tolerance for those who mistreat me. I know many aren’t bothered, but it gets to me.

  5. Even though I’m only 23, I was raised by my folks in what they called “Old school manners” which was mostly common sense things like opening doors for people, stopping the car and helping someone push their car out of the road, giving to those in need, etc.

    I don’t think it’s that people have intentionally gotten more rude, rather, people have become so self-absorbed. That combined with the increase of news on bad things, it’s easy to crawl into your own little world, pull the blankets close and try not to think about things other than you and your family.

    Raising kids is hard now. Finding the balance between how I was raised and how to raise them. The world is way different then it was when I was 5 years old. We’re simply raising our kids to love unconditionally, help others whenever you are able to (donating old clothes, money, volunteering)… saying “Please” and “Thank you”… the basics that seem to be remembered by most people.

    On a side note: There was an interesting article the other day (forget who wrote it) about how with the increase of music devices like iPods and MP3 players, ‘experts’ are fearing we as a society are becoming more withdrawn and more afraid to interact with other people we do not know.

  6. I just had a big argument with my wife about this. For some reason, her 18 year old daughter doesnt say hello to people as she walks in the house. I’m 41, and come originally from Mexico City. I was taught the same thing I teach my 8 year old son every day: You walk in the house, you say hello to eveyone (hug and kiss required a-la mexican) You leave the house, you do the same. To me this is basic etiqutte, and I treat everyone the same, family, co-worker or stranger. To me when you walk in and do not acknowledge the other people you are basically saying you dont care about them, they are transparent.

    My wife has said in the past that to her daughter you dont need to do this because you are part of the family, and my response is that family is even more important than strangers.

    So, does anyone have opinions about this? Should I really not care? Am I over doing it?


  7. Mannes are definately dead to todays youth. Yet parents have not raised their children to show respect to others. Showing good manners is a sign of respect in some aspects. If childrn are not raised to have manners they will have little or no respect for their elders and that is becoming a majopr problem. Many children do not even show respect their parents. This is because parents beleive their children to be only expressing themselves in a harmless manner. The problem is whether or not parents teach to use good manners. I’m fifteen yearsold and can’t stand it when someone does not have any manners.

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