Good Manners Dont Cost

Good Manners Don’t Cost a Thing

“Good manners don’t cost a thing.” I can still hear my mother repeatedly drilling this expression into my head at the dinner table. At an early age, my parents conditioned me into having a good sense of manners.

“Please” and “thank you” are two simple words that possess a power far greater than their meaning. I was constantly reminded to say, “Please” when I wanted one of my needs met and say, “Thank you” to express my gratitude.

Fifteen years later, now as a young adult, I have come to the realization that not everyone’s parents were as adamant about instilling good manners into their child.

Too often, I see doors being opened with no “thank you” following the kind act or the absence of a “please” after a request.

On a service trip with my fellow classmates, I received a “thank you” that I will never forget. I was serving an elderly man his lunch at a nursing home, and as I placed his Jell-O and mixed fruit bowl on his tray, he looked at me with the fondest smile. He said, “Thank you. I will remember the kindness you have shown me.” I’d like to believe that this is the meaning behind every individual’s use of these two words.

When I am on the receiving end of a “please” or “thank you,” I feel valued and appreciated for the .25 seconds that the person took to make their appreciation for my act apparent to me. In my opinion, manners strengthen human connection.

I believe in good manners. I believe in the power of those two simple words. As we grow older, we begin to neglect some of the manners that were once enforced by our elders. The more frequently you forget to thank those around you, the more likely it is to become a bad habit. Neglecting to express your gratitude will not result in a federal offense or any sort of trouble, but this omission will not acknowledge the kindness that another person has shown you.

Having good manners means that I have to express my gratitude to those who offer me their kindness. I must say “Thank you” to the stranger who held the door open for me while I was rushing to class and when I add  a please after my coffee order. While making my way through a crowd, an “excuse me” should be selected rather than the word “move” or the act of elbowing my way through. While I sometimes feel inconvenienced by my inherent need to be polite, I recognize the fact that a person’s small act of kindness has momentarily inconvenienced them and it should be recognized.

Good manners may not cost anything, but their worth exceeds any monetary value. In the humdrum of everyday life, manners are the behaviors that reawaken our faith in humanity and connect us. Whether you say “grazie,” “gracias,” or even “merci,” there is a word or action in every language and culture that is used to express one’s appreciation.

I believe in good manners, in saying “please,” “thank you,” and “sorry” even when I feel like I don’t necessarily have to. These simple behaviors aid in my efforts to present the best possible version of myself to others. I was raised to inconvenience myself to show appreciation for those who have inconvenienced themselves with their kindness.

PHOTO TAKEN by Caroline Mattise