The concept of etiquette is something that we could easily take for granted.
In general, we tend to be very much fixated on some more obvious areas of development such as academic excellence, skills in extracurricular activities, career success, social status and many more. While these are great to have, softer skills such as good manners and etiquette are critical behavioural areas that help us interact with each other and within our communities appropriately.
These also enhance our personalities and give good indications of our upbringing and views of life. They really go a long way in making people stand out as well cultured individuals.
Polite behaviour and good manners should be no-brainers. However, there seems to be a school of thought that politeness may be viewed as weakness, particularly in the dog-eat-dog world in which we live.
Some assume that people who imbibe this mode of good behaviour may be ”push-overs” or will be taken advantage of. In spite of this, confidence and assertiveness carried out in a polite manner can replace rudeness in all situations. For instance, when people have opposing views on a certain topic of discussion, it is possible to have a healthy argument, get an understanding of different perspectives and agree or agree to disagree; all done with politesse.
After all, human beings cannot always have the same opinions about everything; these are a factor of our unique environments and experiences.
Another example is in the area of punctuality, which is something that we seem to struggle with in Africa. Being late to meetings and appointments is absolutely unacceptable behaviour, except in cases of extenuating circumstances, during which notice and updates should be given to attendees of the appointment.
Arriving late is a very impolite way of sending a subliminal message to others who make the effort to arrive on time that the late comer’s time is more important than that of the other’s.
Yet another example is in the area of table manners. We would be surprised that many adults do not know how to eat properly or use basic cutlery (forks and knives). While it is appropriate to eat our local food with our hands, table manners is an area that we should carefully take note of, especially when we are at formal dinner settings, consuming continental food.
So, where do we start from to ensure that we exhibit good etiquette? We can always adapt our behaviour and soft stills, but with most things, it is best to start learning while we are young. Therefore, there is dire need to teach our children while they have the ability to learn and adapt to the various modes of exhibiting good behaviour. This way, there are higher chances of these soft skills sticking when children grow older and develop into adults, thereby making them more effective individuals. The truth is that learning good manners is not an overnight process; and we can very easily tell those within our social and work environments who were brought up with these skills: Those who greet politely, open doors, speak appropriately, know how to use cutlery correctly, and carry out all that they do with complete decorum and confidence.
Good etiquette could even go a long way in securing jobs, interacting with clients, making social connections, meeting the right mate and making good friends. Doing things the appropriate way adds unquantifiable value in ways that we may not initially acknowledge, but would appreciate when results, connections and such general value creation as these mentioned above yield.
Below are some of the advantages of good manners:
In the work place, professional manners get positive attention. While the basic skills on a particular job are critical, knowledge of the work is not all that is important. The manner with which the work is carried out; and in situations of teamwork, the mode and language used when interacting with colleagues go a long way. People who exhibit such are respected in the workplace. Those who rule with rudeness and inappropriate language and behavior may be feared, but not respected.
Amongst friends, politeness could be the fuel to lasting relationships. When friends respect each other and interact in a polite manner, they are more likely to enjoy each other’s company. This would lead to invitations and inclusions in activities and events in the lives of friends, and in effect, the development of long-lasting relationships.
Romantic relationships are stronger when couples have respect for each other. Those who are polite and selfless are more pleasant to be around than those who are rude and disrespectful. Positive and healthy relationships are built on trust and respect for each individual in the relationship.
Let’s try to take note of the way we behave and observe what is appropriate or not. It is extremely important that we imbibe those soft skills that make us more effective individuals.
Written by Oyin Egbeyemi
Oyin Egbeyemi is an engineer-turned-consultant-turned-educationist, runner and writer. She blogs at https://thevoiceofsamanthabrown.blogspot.com.ng/ and you can follow her on instagram (@samantha_brwn) or twitter (@OyinEgbeyemi)