Manners Maketh the Man

We have all heard the phrase “Manners Maketh the Man” but is it really true? In a world of internet abbreviations and anonymity how important are manners?

Humans are a social species designed to live and work in groups. Manners and politeness are the tools we have developed to facilitate this arrangement. However if you think manners are the only thing keeping us from the destruction of mankind you are probably right, just don’t think we are the only species that need manners.

Monty Roberts in his book ‘The Silent Language of Equis’ says that horses have a complex non-verbal communication system, primarily spoken through posture and motions. Other primates also exhibit behaviours we might call ‘manners’ or ‘etiquette’ and these behaviours demonstrate a hierarchy of dominance and therefore allow for cooperation.

Don’t talk with your mouth full, it’s disgusting

Many of us may feel like a lot of our fellow humans behave like apes but manners have drastically changed from time period to time period. A lot of things that would never have been considered polite are acceptable nowadays.

So what equates rudeness?… Kissing in public? Not holding the door open for people? Not giving up your seat? Swearing? A lot of these things would not have been acceptable before but now they are almost commonplace. We even heard our first swear word in the Dáil last year.

Catríona Hughes, a DCU student, believes “no manners is the height of rudeness”, whilst Jenna Eve Smyth thinks “I am very impressed by someone if they introduce me to their friends when I just meet them; I think that shows someone has good manners”.

The things people seem to value most are the real basics: say please and thank you. Mary Thornton really does think manners are still important. She feels it is important to impress on her daughter, Christine, the importance of saying “please and thanks and all that”. Ian, Mary’s husband, does agree with the study though he says “not many people do it anymore. People are too into themselves.”

Don’t shout, Keep your voice down

In the modern world with all the added pressures of constant communication it can be understood why people are rude. Modern technology has made our lives easier, but it is also increasing our stress levels.

So how do manners affect people you meet in your everyday life? How do they feel about rudeness? Nicole, 20, works in Subway on O’Connell St. She says she doesn’t take any rudeness from customers “if you’re rude to me I’ll be rude right back. I treat people they way they treat me”. Nicole stresses she is a bit of an anomaly though “I don’t have a filter, if I’m tired I’m not going to be nice to people.”

Manners are important when it comes to relationships also. Roísin Macken said “I wouldn’t date a guy who didn’t offer to walk me home after a night out”.

Don’t interrupt, it’s selfish and ill-mannered

The biggest sentiment you seem to get when talking to people about manners is: “it’s nice to be nice”.
Some of the people who you would think see the worst of society, Gardaí, aren’t half as negative as you might expect. Paul and John from Store St. Garda station said “people aren’t too bad towards Gardaí, you have your odd person ‘under the influence’ that will be less tolerant but it’s nice to be nice”.

Eimear Phelan

Image Credit: Fiona Hughes

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