Good Manners – Who is teaching our Children?

Good Manners, Social etiquette, teaching our children

Good Manners – Who is teaching our Children?


I recently read the following article in the Western Australian newspaper. Written by Professor Gary Martin, the CEO of AIM WA and a workplace and social affairs expert. I wanted to share it with you because, good manners and social etiquette, is something I think about and the article shows how many areas, we need to improve upon. Who is teaching our children and what are your thoughts?

“”” Social Etiquette in Freefall as Common Sense Takes a Dive.

There are things in life that go without saying: hold the door open for others, give up your bus or train seat to a passenger in more need and offer a helping hand to someone who is struggling.

You may have noticed how the adherence to many of these unwritten social rules is in freefall.

We are in the middle of a manner’s meltdown, exposing us to awkward social situations where common courtesy can no longer be taken for granted.

Our unwritten rules, also known as social norms or etiquette, are the guidelines that lubricate our relationships with others.

Take for example, engaging in conversation with a group of friends.  There is an unwritten rule to take turns to speak.  Interrupting others can lead to chaos and frustration if some are denied a chance to be heard.

There are also unwritten rules relating to eye contact.  While making eye contact shows attentiveness, too much can be interpreted as confrontational – and avoiding it may convey a lack of interest or evasiveness.

And in public places such as crowded train stations in peak hour, maintain a respectful distance from fellow commuters is another rule. While many people know and follow these unwritten rules, there are some less obvious ones that are not as commonly practised.

One important rule is to keep promises.  It is never polite to break promises – and do not make a promise if you are not going to keep it. 

Another one is dining etiquette.  When someone is nice enough to treat you to a meal, it is polite to avoid choosing the most expensive item on the menu.

It is also a good rule to treat them to a meal next time to return the appreciation. If you have borrowed an item, do not lend out what is not yours.  And if you borrow money, repay it even if the person has not asked for it.

If you use someone’s car, it is a kind gesture to fill up the tank before you return the vehicle.

When you make a mistake, and hurt someone, apologise.

And avoid giving advice or your opinion unless someone asks for them.

These unwritten rules are learnt through various sources and life experiences, including through family, friends and education, and via the media, including social media.

Some would argue unwritten social rules are simply common sense — and common sense i in decline.

We are often quick to judge or criticize those who are unaware of our unwritten rules.

A more constructive approach is to deploy large doses of understanding and patience as well as a willingness to educate rather than condemn.

To rescue us from a prevailing courtesy calamity, we must shed more light on our unspoken social rules to address this issue head-on. “””” Gary Martin

I would love to know what you think, do you agree, is this not your experience? Reach out and share your thoughts, and maybe we can move towards a happier community spirit for our kids!