One of my earliest memories is one when I was about five years old, having Sunday lunch with my sister and mother.
We were all dressed up for church, and afterward, my mom had taken us to a “white tablecloth” restaurant.
She was teaching us how to cut meat, holding the fork and knife properly, switching hands with the fork after cutting, and placing the knife on the side of the plate — a rather complicated series of movements for a child.
There must have been some other etiquette lessons thrown in at the time, because during the lunch, a woman eating at the restaurant approached my mom and said, “Your children are so well-mannered. You must be proud of them.”
I vividly remember my mom’s expression of pleasure and pride.
Our polite behavior made an impression, and the lunch left an indelible impression on me. People like politeness.
Having good manners and social skills feels good and makes others respond positively.
I was fortunate to have parents who placed a high value on social skills and manners.
Of course, I was raised in the South — so good manners were reinforced simply by nature of being Southern. Even as a grown woman, I still find myself saying, “Yes ma’am” or “Yes sir” to people a few years my senior. Old habits die hard.
But it doesn’t matter where you grew up or how you were raised in relation to social graces. Having good social skills will give you an advantage in your personal and professional life.
Even if you never had any training or role models, it’s never too late to learn new habits and manners.