Manners are Magic

Maerscover‘Who needs manners?' I hear some people ask. There's a very simple answer to that: everyone needs manners!

Manners are a kind of magic. They're the simple little tricks and tips that make people think, ‘What a nice boy' or ‘Isn't she a sweet girl?' Good manners make you pleasant and fun to have around. Having good manners also means knowing what to do, when to do it and, more importantly, how to do it, at all times. For this reason, manners also make you feel more confident about yourself, because you'll know how to stay cool in any situation. Best of all, manners are a way of helping convince others to help you and to do nice things for you-and you don't even need a magic wand!

Treat others as you would like to be treated

Whether we like it or not, other people judge us by the way we look, the way we speak and the way we behave. If our manners are good, people usually like us, but if we're rude they think badly of us. Even if someone is really nice, if they don't have good manners their niceness may not come across. The other fabulous thing about being well mannered is that it makes the people around you feel good about themselves too, because you make them feel comfortable. People behave towards you the way you behave towards them, so what you give out is what you get back.

Passwords to popularity: saying ‘please' and ‘thank you'

Of course, you don't have to be an expert in politeness to be popular, but you do have to know, and use, the basics. Being polite is actually very easy once you know how. The words below are the most useful words in your magic box of good manners. They are passwords to getting you out of tricky situations or to putting you in people's good books, and they pack a powerful, but polite, punch! Please ... Along with ‘thank you', ‘please' is perhaps the most powerful word in the dictionary! You use it whenever you want someone to do something for you. You'll find that the best way to get what you want is just to ask nicely. When your mother asks, ‘What's the magic word?' she means ‘please' and it really is magic!

‘Please' can make people do what you want them to do, without them even realising they're under your polite spell. That's what gives this one small word its superpowers. You can add ‘please' to just about anything and it will work its tricks. For instance, ‘Could you pass the butter, please?' or ‘Can I please leave the classroom?', ‘Would you please come with me to the skate park?' or ‘Please, Mum, can I get tuck shop today?' or ‘Jayden's music is too loud, can you please tell him to turn it down, Dad'.

‘Please' is also used to respond to questions or whenever something is offered to you. For instance: ‘Would you like some more cake?' ‘Yes, please. It's yummy, Grandma.' (Giving praise, when it's true, also helps you get your own way, but don't tell your parents I told you this! Shhhhh, it's magic!) Thank you ...

The other power word is actually two words, ‘thank you'. People love to be thanked when they help you out. Being thanked makes them feel special and, best of all, it makes them want to help you again, which is great news for you! You should say ‘thank you' whenever someone does something kind for you. You should definitely thank someone if they have cooked you a meal or bought you a treat such as a cold drink or an ice-cream, or lent you a DVD to watch. And even if you don't like or want what they are offering, you still need to say thank you anyway. Just say it like this: ‘No, thank you'.

Excuse me ...

‘Excuse me' is a polite phrase that gets you out of trouble. It is a very useful password because even if what you've done is a little rude, saying ‘excuse me' can help smooth it over. ‘Excuse me' can be used in lots of ways. Use it if you need to:

  • interrupt someone's conversation: ‘Excuse me, Dad. Uncle John's on the telephone for you.' ask directions: ‘Excuse me, is this the stop for the school bus?'
  • pass someone who's hogging all the space on the escalator: ‘Excuse me, can I get past, please?'
  • attract your teacher's attention: ‘Excuse me Miss Smith, what page did you say we were on?'
  • apologise for bumping into someone: ‘Whoops, excuse me.'

And ‘excuse me' will get you out of the most trouble of all-burping, coughing, yawning, sneezing or accidentally ‘bottom burping'. Saying ‘Excuse me' lets people know that you weren't deliberately being rude. I beg your pardon ... Using ‘I beg your pardon' is the polite way to ask ‘What?' You use it, or simply ‘Pardon?', when you didn't hear what someone said to you. Sometimes you might hear your grandparents say, ‘I beg your pardon!' if they see or hear you do something rude (which, of course, won't happen any more now that you know the power passwords!). When they say it like this, they are not asking for you to repeat the rude thing you did, instead, they're asking you to apologise, usually with a quick, ‘Excuse me, Grandma, I didn't mean to burp at the dinner table'. I'm sorry ... Just like ‘excuse me',

‘I'm sorry' can get you out of almost any sticky situation, but you have to really mean it.

People can see right through an ‘I'm sorry' that isn't really true.

Part of being a good friend, a good son or Manners are Magic daughter, or a good sister or brother, is accepting that sometimes you may do something to upset someone and you may have to say ‘Sorry'. If you forget to ring a friend for their birthday, say ‘I'm sorry'. If you arrive late for class, say to the teacher ‘I'm sorry Miss Smith'. You can also say ‘I'm sorry' when you hear some upsetting news. For instance, when someone tells you their dog has died, you might say, ‘Oh, I'm sorry to hear that'.

You're welcome ...

Saying ‘You're welcome' is really a way of saying, ‘I'm so polite, I wouldn't dream of not being this way!' It's used when someone thanks you for something. For example, you may have very politely held the door open for someone and they might say, ‘Thank you'. You would then respond, ‘You're welcome'. Some people also say, ‘Don't mention it'. Saying ‘You're welcome' is a way of suggesting that it makes you happy to do something nice for someone else.

First impressions ... do you see what I see?

Now that you know your passwords to popularity, you can easily make a great first impression when you meet a stranger. Did you know it only takes 15 seconds for a stranger to decide if you are polite and nice, or rude and not so nice? Worse, you never get a second chance to change the stranger's mind about you.

If you don't make a good impression to begin with, it could be because other people don't always see you as you see yourself. If you blow it by looking at your feet and mumbling, people might think you're rude and they won't want to bother with you. Even if you're shy, try to show you are confident, this will make all the difference with first impressions. If you're sitting down when someone new is introduced to you, stand up, smile confidently, look the other person in the eye then put out your right hand and say, ‘Hi, my name is Jack' or ‘Hello, nice to meet you, Mrs Johnson'. If you've been invited to a friend's house for a meal and they're introducing you to their mother, say something like, ‘Hello, Mrs Johnson. Thanks for having me over for lunch'.