Growing up in the South meant one thing — manners were instilled in me from the time I could walk and talk. I try my best to remember the things I was taught and shown throughout my life and to use them as often as possible. It seems as though many people, especially in my [millennial] generation, have forgotten what their mommas taught them! Remembering your manners allows you to make a good first impression, and to come off as someone who has their life together and who really cares about the people around them. Practicing these common, but often forgotten, manners will make sure that you come off well to anyone and everyone.
1. Saying 'Please', 'Thank You', and 'You're Welcome'
This is the most basic of basic manners! Saying please and thank you (with a smile!) in any and all applicable situations is the most polite thing to do. If you don't stop in the middle of a sentence to say "thank you" when a waiter refills your drink, it's just plain rude! "Please" and "thank you" are important to say to everyone, but especially food service and retail workers. Those people work too hard for you to not be polite. Let's also not forget about "you're welcome." When someone says thank you, make sure to say "you're welcome." I often find myself saying "no problem," which just doesn't have the same sincerity.
2. Sir and Ma'am
Using the terms "sir" and "ma'am" may depend on your region. In the south, it's practically second nature, while in the northeast, it may be taken as rude. But if your area is open to it, using "sir" and "ma'am" when addressing people is so important! It creates a sense of mutual respect. I even catch myself using it around people that are clearly younger than me, which tends to make them feel a little special.
3. A Firm Handshake
If you plan on meeting anyone at all, having a firm handshake is a wonderful addition to your first impression. Extend your right hand, grasp theirs firmly, and shake one or two times. Be sure to include eye contact and a smile! It's a simple action that makes a world of difference.
4. Being in the Moment
STAY. OFF. OF. YOUR. PHONE. This one is so, so important, and I've been trying my best to keep my phone away when interacting with people. Being present in the moment makes people feel special, loved, and respected. It's rude to be having a conversation while also scrolling on Twitter. If you need to check your phone, pardon yourself first, and apologize afterward. It's the best way to make memories and make your loved ones feel treasured.
5. Handwritten Notes
What a way to make someone's day! Everyone loves receiving mail, notes, and other physical artifacts of appreciation. Writing thank you notes or just little notes of admiration is a sweet way to show some love. Handwritten notes have become less common as digital media has become more common, making them all the more special.
6. Being on Time
Punctuality is key! I did theater performance in high school and we had a little saying: "If you're early, you're on time. If you're on time, you're late. If you're late, you're cut!" Now, you won't be "cut" from real life, but it lessens your credibility if you're consistently late. Being on time allows you more time to engage with those around you and gives you an air of respect and professionalism. The only time that it's acceptable to be late is to a party — and only if you're fashionably late.
7. Timely Replies to Texts and Calls
Yes, manners are important in the digital world, too! Replying to texts and calls in a timely fashion, especially ones with time-sensitive information, is really important! Not only does it allow for faster relaying of information, it makes people feel important and that their time is valuable.
8. Holding and Opening Doors
While this courtesy was traditionally geared towards men, it is important for women to engage in this practice as well! Even if you're in a hurry, holding a door open for a few seconds will not make you late. Additionally, if you see someone with their hands full, opening the door for them is just as polite.
If you practice these manners, you're sure to be a respectable, kind, polite individual. If you don't... well then bless your heart!