polite gestures

Manners have fallen by the wayside.  Children rarely remember to say please and thank you anymore and adults aren’t any better at making polite gestures than kids.  My parents stuck with their guns when it came to good manners.  I have taught my daughters good manners and have no leniency in how they treat others.  

Here are 21 polite gestures that never fail to impress: 

  1. Holding doors
  2. Written thank-yous
  3. Using yes ma’am, no ma’am, yes sir, no sir
  4. When walking or reaching in front of someone say, “Excuse me.”
  5. Waiting until everyone at the dinner table has their food before starting to eat
  6. Letting the women at the table order before the men
  7. Men opening any door for a woman and/or children
  8. RSVPing by the requested date
  9. Introducing friends to friends, by name
  10. Waiting to get up from the table until everyone is finished or excusing yourself if a bathroom break is in order
  11. Putting away the cell phone when approaching a checkout counter
  12. Chewing with your mouth closed
  13. Keeping one hand in your lap when eating
  14. Letting your guest choose what to watch on the TV
  15. Serving your guests first
  16. Waiting for people to exit an elevator before entering
  17. Letting people complete their sentence before interrupting and if interrupting, saying excuse me
  18. Helping the elderly load or unload their groceries into or out of their car
  19. Sending cards of condolences, congratulations, well wishes
  20. Waiting until someone you have dropped of enters their house and is safely inside
  21. Remember birthdays by calling or sending a card
News Reporter
Courtney is the traveling mom! She has 3 girls and is the founder of Detroit Mommies and currently lives in Florida. You can follow her on Twitter @courtneyRVL.
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Hannah
Hannah
8 months ago

All of these are just common sense…

Debbie
Debbie
10 months ago

How can you leave a hand in your lap when eating at the dinner table, if you are using correctly you will be holding your knife & fork , cutting your food up then eating only with your fork is not the proper etiquette??

Susan
Susan
6 months ago
Reply to  Debbie

Clearly you use both hands to cut food. When finished lay the knife on your plate and put your hand in yiur lap.

Kimberly
Kimberly
11 months ago

For those that are offended by the ‘sir, ma’am’ thing need to look at the person’s intent. It’s a sign of respect to you. You feeling old is your problem. Just like a stranger saying Merry Christmas. You may not celebrate it but its the person’s intent to give you well wishes for the season. Stop taking things that are good and spinning them as something to be offended by. You might find yourself happier and more pleasant.

Jack
Jack
1 year ago

Number 13 really stopped me in my tracks. Eating your meal with one hand? This must be because it’s American, I’ve heard it said that Americans eat everything with just a fork.

Shannon Lazovski
Admin
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack

Thank you Jack. We Americans also use other utensils! 😉

Joyce Taylor
Joyce Taylor
1 year ago

Re # 3 and # 13, using ma’am and sir is a southern US nicety but could make a northerner/Canadian uncomfortable. How you use your knife and fork in the world depends on where you are eating. The bottom line is showing an attitude of humility and consideration for the people around you. Then, know and adapt to the particular comfort levels of those people.

Kim
Kim
1 year ago
Reply to  Joyce Taylor

I agree. Having lived in both the North and South, Northerners almost seem to be offended when you call them ma’am or sir.

Susan
Susan
6 months ago
Reply to  Kim

Not true. I live in Ohio and we sat ma’am and sir.

Linda
Linda
1 year ago
Reply to  Joyce Taylor

yes it is a southern thing and I don’t like being called ma’m it makes me feel old… I am originally from up north so maybe that’s why I don’t like it.

Kristi
Kristi
1 year ago

My understanding of manners is that they are not necessarily to impress others but to make others feel comfortable and cared for. I do believe that is what the author of the list was driving at anyway but I just wanted to note that if they are used specifically to impress, sometimes that can feel pompous and make the other person uncomfortable. Because of this manners are a matter of local culture and cannot really be interpreted out of context. So we must do our best to understand the culture we are in and when possible practice it’s common courtesies whenever they do not violate our own personal boundaries. Considering others before considering ourselves is the heart of manners and that will always require humility and our best awareness of the people and normal practices around us.

Christina
Christina
1 year ago

Number 13 seems to have the most varying opinions on what is correct! It clearly varies by region/ culture. In my religion, regardless of the kind of cutlery, it is considered extremely rude to eat with the left hand, almost nearing offensive. One must always eat, drink and serve others with the right hand.

Thank you for a great post!

Elzabeth
Elzabeth
1 year ago
Reply to  Christina

What if you’re left handed? Is it still considered rude? I’m asking out of curiosity only.

Mom2two
Mom2two
8 months ago
Reply to  Elzabeth

You still eat with your right hand. The left is considered dirty in many cultures.

Uju
Uju
7 months ago
Reply to  Elzabeth

I too come from a culture that frowns on people eating, serving and even handing someone something with your left hand even if you are left handed. It is the epitome of rudeness and disrespect. My family tends to be a bit less rigid with this among ourselves as we seem to be a family of left handed people but you will still get a side eye from my mom or a quick reprimand if you serve someone or hand something with your left hand.

Stephanie Comley
Stephanie Comley
2 years ago

I must say a very nice list. All except number 13.
The correct way to hold your cutlery is fork in the left hand and knife in the right hand. Elbows off the table. I cannot for the life of me understand why Americans first cut up their food and then put down the knife to eat with their fork in their right hand. It looks so lazy and uninterested. Otherwise a very nice and to the point list, thank you.

Mom2two
Mom2two
8 months ago

Except of course when you are presented with soup. Then the left hand is indeed kept in your lap until you need to tilt your soup bowl which is always tilted away from you and not toward you.

Mattie
Mattie
2 years ago

This is how I was taught. I taught this to my children. Now my grandchild are being taught the same way. This is our way of living.

Rosemary
Rosemary
2 years ago

Using these manners has served me well for the past 67 years. People are surprised and often delighted when you are thoughtful to them. I hope that my kindness will be spread out to others.

Shelley O
Shelley O
2 years ago

Number 13 is only for America. This is the incorrect usage of silverware and extremely bad manners elsewhere. The fork should be in your right hand and the knife in your left. Forks are not turned over and used like spoons, but food is loaded onto the back of the curved portion. Therefore, your hands should only be in your lap between courses. Desserts should be presented with a spoon and a dessert fork. Spoon in the right hand, fork in the left. Europeans regard American use of silverware as very lazy.

Kelly
Kelly
1 year ago
Reply to  Shelley O

How do you eat peas or foods that won’t stay loaded on the back of a fork?

Jennifer Papotto
Jennifer Papotto
8 months ago
Reply to  Shelley O

I have lived in North America (Canada) my whole life. I was raised with both an understanding of manners and etiquette and this diversion seems to be where people have the trouble. Number 13 is an odd rule to me, I’ve never seen it however this is the bottom line; etiquette is knowing not to use your dinner fork on your salad and manners is not pointing out that someone is using their dinner fork for their salad. Be courteous and kind and that’s all that is necessary. Etiquette changes with culture but courtesy is universal.

D Frederick
D Frederick
2 years ago

Sad that common courtesy needs to come with a list of instructions.

Kimberly
Kimberly
11 months ago
Reply to  D Frederick

Exactly D Frederick. Thank you for this comment.

Cammie
2 years ago

I thought #13 was interesting; I’ve never heard that one before. In my family (and Chinese culture), the polite thing is to hold your bowl with your non-dominant hand while you eat with your dominant hand.

Mary
Mary
2 years ago

We must have had the same beautiful mother.

Tracey Weiser
Tracey Weiser
2 years ago

This is a fantastic list! As a Canadian, and thus a Northerner, I love all these gestures… except, of course, calling me Ma’am! 🙂 I hate being called Ma’am. It always makes me feel 100 years old, and not like a great, active, aging-gracefully, 100 year old, but run over by a truck for 100 years 100 year old. I always have to have a second wherein I tell myself that it’s about the speaker and not about how bad I look. lol

Tonita
2 years ago

Polite Gestures is what we call manners in the South. When you use manners you can never go wrong.

Heather
Heather
2 years ago

Not just the South.
It’s just being raised with manners, which sadly is a list art.

Amy
Amy
5 years ago

This is the south that I know and love. We don’t know any other way! Bless your heart

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