Minding Manners

If there’s one thing that ‘Thrilla in NAIA’ episode a couple of weeks back taught us, it’s that the complete and total breakdown of good manners and proper decorum ain’t a pretty thing. Yes, I’m talking about that video that went viral featuring Claudine, Raymart and Mon Tulfo thrashing about at the airport like a bunch of rabid stray dogs.  The horror!

So entertaining!

Now one can only wonder– if so-called celebrities behave that way in public these days, are the rest of us beginning to act like heathens too?  Here’s a list of reminders to keep us all in check:

  1.  Greetings and salutations go a long way.  I can’t understand people who can’t even extend the courtesy of saying hello or please or thank you when dealing with someone—be it via email, on the phone or in person.  It takes but a split second but it makes a world of difference.  I don’t think this is negotiable, no matter how comfortable or close you are to a person, no matter how prickly your personality might be or how high up the ladder you are—you could be the Queen of Sheba for all I care—say your hellos and pleases and thank yous.  We all owe each other that much.
  2. Show respect for elders.  It seems more and more common these days for kids and teens to just pop in and wave at their parents, aunts/uncles, parents of their friends, parents of their girlfriend/boyfriend.  Look, regardless of whether you are painfully shy, or feeling cool or whatever the case—you must come up to the parent/s or relative/s, give a proper greeting, and beso or bless the person.  If you are seated, get up and offer your seat to the more senior person.  If you are lining up at a buffet or something, always allow the senior to go ahead of you.  I know that this is not expected in the US or anywhere else in the world, but if you are in the Philippines and you intend to live in civilized society, this is what you must do to show respect.  No ifs and buts.
  3. Stay humble.  No matter what achievements you have reached or what status you have gained, always strive to remain down to earth and humble.  There’s no bigger turn off than hearing people strut around saying things like “Do you know who I am?”, because frankly, nobody cares.  So don’t throw crazy hissy fits at service staff, throw your weight around or act like a diva because you will only end up looking silly and feeling pompous and self-important.  People really do not appreciate this kind of behavior and would much rather admire someone who has done a lot and yet does not call so much attention to himself/herself.
  4. Keep your temper at bay.  Yes, we all get angry, impatient or upset at times and there are certain justifications for feeling this way.  But under no circumstance should you completely lose your temper and act like a madwoman in public, nor should you ever scathingly scold, curse and humiliate another person especially if the misfortune is beyond their control.  That is just bad breeding.  And if you use foul language and expletives on top of the rage, that’s even worse.  People like that ought to be dragged out into the street and shot.  If you want to be classy and remain respectable, keep your cool and your poise intact no matter what.  And for goodness sake, do not get into a brawl as though you belong in some slum wrestling ring.  Cheap!
  5. Mind your table manners.  Okay this has nothing to do with the airport snafu but still needs to be discussed.  Table manners, in particular, are becoming rarer and rarer these days based on my general observation.  First of all, in a group meal, no one is supposed to eat ahead if the other people in the table have not been served yet.  The lady or the guest of honor should take the first bite, soup should not be slurped, and serving utensils should always be used for family-style meals.  It seems elementary enough but you’d be surprised at how often these little details are forgotten.  It’s not about being fussy or acting pedigreed—it’s just common courtesy and should come naturally without any effort.  
  6. Admit your shortcomings.  Say you’ve transgressed some of these cardinal rules and ended up hurting or inconveniencing a person—you must make every effort to apologize in a sincere manner and make necessary amends.  I’d advise against going around telling people it wasn’t your fault and crying foul and pretending to be aggrieved because that just looks all the more petty and defensive.  Man up, face the music and do what needs to be done to mitigate the damage.  It’s really as simple as that.  Now if the transgression came from the other party, the best thing to do is shut up and move on.  Yes, you can defend your honor or clarify your name or demand retribution, but more often than not the truth always comes out and you will still be vindicated in the end whether you announce your innocence to the whole universe or not.
  7. Try to be a little more thoughtful.  Small touches spell the difference between those with true breeding and those who don’t.  For instance, if you are invited to someone’s home for a meal- always bring a little something like a bottle of wine, dessert or whatever treat for the host/hostess.  The same goes if you are staying over at someone’s place—a token of appreciation, like a piece of décor for the house, a cake or fresh flowers and a thank you note are very well received.  If something special happens in the life of a friend or colleague—promotions, engagements, babies born, birthdays, or even the opposite like a breakup—a little thoughtfulness can sweeten the deal as well.  Send a bouquet or a cake or plan a small party and watch your friend glow.  It feels really good.


  8. Do favors.  Aside from expressing gratitude, another thing you can do to become regarded as a genteel person is to grant favors within your power.  If you can do it with barely lifting a finger, why don’t you help?  An endorsement for a job, a customer referral, a shared workload so that someone can go on vacation in peace, a discount, a little motivation, a ride home, or some honest, constructive feedback—what’s it to you?  It hardly costs any time or effort and yet it can mean so much to another person.  So don’t be lazy to do favors, and although you aren’t counting on anything in return, you can bet that any of those people you’ve helped in some way will be more than willing to do the same for you when the time comes.

At the end of the day, never forget that what goes around comes around, we reap what we sow, and we get what we give.  Courtesy, good manners and proper, decent behavior is a minimum expectation.  Here’s to better days for us all.

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