People are often more polite to strangers than they are to their own family members. This may be because they know the people they are closest to will love them regardless of how they act. However, they're also the people you can hurt the most with rude behavior.
Don't forget about etiquette when you're at home with family members or hanging out with roommates. It's easy to let our hair down and let bad manners take over when in the comfort of our home, but those who share the roof and four walls are the very ones we need to be the nicest to.
Make Pleasant Conversation
The dialogue in a family home is often full of anger and frustration. After all, the bad habits of others can be annoying, particularly if you have to put up with them day after day. When strangers do the very same thing, it's easy to overlook their actions because we're not exposed to them as frequently. But don't forget that it works both ways. Our angry words can grate on the other people's nerves as well.
It might take practice and several attempts but try to speak nicely to those who live with you. Here are some tips:
- Use pleasant conversation starters when you greet a family member or sit down to a meal.
- Keep all conversations as polite as possible. When you need to state an opposing view, do it with respect.
- Take a moment to check yourself to avoid blurting something rude that you'd never say to a stranger or someone at the office.
- Avoid discussing politics if you've already experienced arguing about opposing views. Chances are, you won't change the other person's mind, and the argument will drive a wedge between the two of you.
When you make a mistake, don't let too much time go by before apologizing. Afterward, make a concerted effort to be nice and not do whatever you needed to apologize for.
Acts of Kindness
We often hear about people performing random acts of kindness. It's generally something people do for strangers, which is nice, but why not be kind to the people you're closest to? If you do those very same things at home, your life will be much more pleasant, and you might find that these simple deeds create a domino effect, with others wanting to return the kindness.
Parents and Children
Parents can bark orders all day long, but the children rarely hear what is being said if the parents' actions are in direct opposition to the commands. When we tell our kids to be polite, say please and thank you, and take our turn in line, yet we forget to perform those acts at home, the children get a mixed signal that is likely to send them toward a state of misbehavior.
If you constantly chatter on your cell phone, they might not pay much attention to you when you tell them to put theirs down during a meal. Don't expect anything from your children that you don't do when it's just you and them.
Remember that there will be disagreements in the home. However, that doesn't give anyone a right to be rude or say something that will linger and hurt the people you love the most. Listen to all sides of any argument to show that you respect each other.
Everyone in the family should share responsibilities. Otherwise, one person may become resentful, and over time, that resentment may build up and cause an angry outburst.
Tips for Teaching Manners to Children
- One of the most important things you can do when teaching your children manners is to be a role model and show the behavior you want them to exhibit.
- Remember that your teenagers are going through a lot internally as they transition from being children to adults. You still need to be firm with them and insist on good manners, but do it in a way that shows your own knowledge of etiquette.
- The preteen period of a child's life is confusing to them and the people they encounter. They may look like adults, but they're still struggling with finding their place in society.
- Make sure you expect age-appropriate behavior from your children. Don't expect a preschooler to have the same speech filters you'd expect from an older teenager.
If you are a stepparent, work hard to maintain a positive relationship. This involves taking extra time to learn etiquette rules that are specific to the needs of your family.
Many young adults have roommates to share the expenses of everyday life. Otherwise, they may not be able to afford to live away from Mom and Dad. If you find a roommate who shares your values and you can get along with, do everything in your power to be polite to that person. You don't want to risk losing this important relationship.
Etiquette Tips for Roommates
- Have a written agreement that spells out who pays for what and how all the expenses are divided.
- Never borrow any article of clothing without asking first.
- Have a clear understanding of boundaries in all areas of the home—from the kitchen to the bathroom.
- If you know your roommate needs special food for a diet or health issue, never take the last one in the package. Replace anything that isn't something you've agreed to share.
- Have off-limits areas where you can see each retreat when you want to be alone.
- Don't have a party without first discussing it with your roommate.
- Avoid political hot-button issues.
- Let your roommate know when you are going to have company, even if it's just one person. She might not want strangers to see her in her pajamas.
- Be respectful of common space by keeping it neat and clean. Never leave a sink full of dirty dishes and expect your roommate to wash them.
Be a good neighbor. Although you don't have to be best friends with the family next door, it's a good idea to know their names and contact phone numbers. Offer to check their mail and pick up their newspaper when they go out of town. If they do the same for you, send them a thank you note and a small gift of appreciation.