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MANNERLY

Definition of the word of the week (MANNERLY): Having or showing good manners.

Manners are a sign of good character and many schools include courses on etiquette to better prepare their students. Manners require an awareness of other people’s feelings. As the famous hostess, Emily Post, observed, if you have a sensitive awareness of others, “…you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”

Manners and respect for other people go hand-in-hand. If one follows the Golden Rule of treating others as one would like to be treated, one will naturally act in a mannerly way. In addition to the impact on character, good manners also impact career success. Studies at major universities have shown that manners and other social skills have a tremendous impact on promotions and success.

If one has not been trained on proper manners, it is easy to give offense inadvertently. An ignorant person may think nothing of walking into a building while wearing a hat but, to the educated eye, that is improper. An uneducated person may think nothing about walking through a door without holding it open for another, especially a lady, but someone with manners would do so. Clearly, people who talk on cellular phones in a movie theater or even in church are simply obtuse and self-absorbed.

In my travels around the world, the “most” mannerly people that I have met were Japanese. When I asked my friend, Eiji Kimusuka, why that was so, he explained that their island had so many people that if the Japanese were not mannerly, then tempers and violence would flare and their society would suffer. Seems to me like America could use more of that philosophy. Good manners act like a lubricant to make life easier on everyone.

One of the foremost political thinkers of the 18th Century, Edmund Burke was a statesman and philosopher. He wrote, “Manners are of more importance than laws. Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible operation, like that of the air we breathe in.”

We all have manners, the question is, “How many of them are good ones?” Education helps improve manners but it is genuine respect for others that give manners resonance and meaning.
The following quotations are intended to assist in explaining and exemplifying the word of the week:

Good manners have much to do with the emotions. To make them ring true, one must feel them, not merely exhibit them. Amy Vanderbilt, Author

Clothes and manners do not make the man; but when he is made, they greatly improve his appearance. Henry Beecher, Writer

Manners easily and rapidly mature into morals. Horace Mann, Educator

Respect for ourselves guides our morals, respect for others guides our manners. Laurence Sterne, Author

Manners are not idle, but the fruit of loyal nature and of noble mind. Lord Tennyson, Poet

Manners must adorn knowledge, and smooth its way through the world. Lord Chesterfield, Statesman

The basis of good manners is self-reliance. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Poet

COL Patrick Beer, the Dean of Students and Commandant of Cadets at Georgia Military College, prepares this study guide each week as part of the institution’s character education program. He welcomes comments and suggestions from readers. He can be contacted by phone at 478-445-2710 or by email at pbeer@gmc.cc.ga.us.