OPINION

Remember to mind your manners ... please | Mind Matters

Remember to mind your manners ... please | Mind Matters

There are many social rules your parents never taught you.

I will tell you a few to give you an idea of what I mean.

My research assistant told me that eating tuna in an office tea room is evil.

She may have used a nicer term than evil, but anyway I am guilty as charged.

When a person behind you in line in a store has only a few items, and you have many, invite the person to go ahead. I have never done this.

Do not sit in the seat next to a stranger on a bus unless there are no alternatives. Finally, I am describing a rule that I always follow.

However, I like to joke with companions about sitting right next to a stranger in an almost empty bus.

Take a gift when you go to visit someone. It took me decades to learn this rule. I still don't always follow it.

Say thanks when somebody does something for you - even if it is a parent or spouse. I am getting better at this one.

If someone sneezes near you, say "bless you."

In these days of the plague, you may have to grit your teeth to say that to a stranger.

Nowadays, I try not to slurp soup. I think I have good table manners, but I almost always eat alone. Hmmm.

No one asks me to evaluate his or her new hairstyle, but I am ready to tell a white lie, if needed.

You might think that I was raised as a wild child.

Nope, but I never learned good manners as a child.

Not from my parents.

Not in school.

When I read as an adult the book All I really need to I know I learned in kindergarten, I had an eye-opening experience.

There are many other important social rules, but I can't think of them right now. This is where you come in. What other social rules do you follow?

Now that I am asking questions, I will add another query: Why do social rules exist?

I will handle that question, if you please. Notice my polite wording.

Social rules help us know what to expect others to do and to know what to do ourselves. They simplify life.

Following social rules helps us appear sophisticated and compassionate.

Now that I have thought of all these benefits, I will try harder. You may someday think of me as Gracious John.

John Malouff is an Associate Professor at the School of Psychology, University of New England.