Manners: A Key to Success

“Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.”

CLARENCE THOMAS ,Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

Raise your hand if you are tired of angry and rude behaviour.

We have become an intolerant society, quick to be critical of one another, mistakes, and what others think or say. It’s time to bring back tolerance and patience.

The danger of anger and rudeness

I was driving on a fast moving, busy highway. Someone behind me rode my bumper even though I was keeping up with the cars ahead of me. There was nowhere for me to go, someone was beside me, and in front of me. As soon as there was a break in the traffic, the car behind, moved into the lane beside me, then zoomed in front of me, slammed on the brakes, sped up again and slammed on the brakes again. It scared me to the point of shaking.

If I had shifted my attention even for a millisecond, the result would have been catastrophic. I still don’t understand why the person behind me did this. The road rage was out of control. In that brief period, I felt like I had been violated and disregarded as a human. Then I got scared all over again when I thought about the damage that all that anger could have caused to so many families if we had been in an accident.

Etiquette helps us govern our thoughts, behaviours, choices, actions, what we say, and how we say it. It includes body language, manners, appearance, emotional intelligence, and soft skills. It helps us so that we become aware of the impact of our words and actions on other people. 

Etiquette and manners are respect for the other person. Respect is the hallmark of a civil society. It’s the universal language that improves our daily interactions in business and in society.

Etiquette and manners are old fashioned

No, they are not! The demand for training in etiquette and manners is growing. Organizations are hiring etiquette coaches to help improve the image of their senior executives and organization. Parents are enrolling their children in etiquette classes to improve their success in life

Etiquette and manners are more than good table manners. They are the means to getting a good job, getting into a good school, being promoted, and having long lasting and satisfying personal relationships.

According to,  A Study of Engineering Education (1918), by Charles Riborg Mann, 15% of professional success depends on technical skills and job knowledge, while 85% depends on interpersonal skills.  Etiquette and manners are a big part of understanding the expected social behaviours in a workplace setting. In a survey conducted by Accountemps, 65% of managers and 46% of workers believed that being courteous can accelerate career advancement. 

What does proper etiquette and good manners look like in today’s world?

Remember the person’s name. This is one of those skills that many of us have trouble with and need to work on. Experts advise using different tactics as a reminder of the person’s name, a rhyme, play on words, and repeating it several times in a conversation to help your memory.

Make a good first impression. It used to be that we would shake hands when greeting someone, but with COVID some people are reluctant to do so.  Find another way to make the initial contact more memorable if shaking hands is a problem for you. Make eye contact and maintain it throughout the conversation. Experts say you should maintain eye contact 50% of the time when speaking and 70% when listening, and hold it no more than five seconds at a time, otherwise you might come across as creepy. Provide contact information at the end of the conversation if it makes sense to do so.

Say please and thank you. These simple words are powerful and will leave a positive lasting impression with others. It shows that you acknowledge those around you and are considerate of their presence.

Introduce yourself and others.

Show interest in others. People will remember that you made them feel respected, interesting, valued, etc. Give the person you are talking to your full attention. Put your phone away and maintain eye contact. Don’t spend the time talking about yourself. Don’t make others feel foolish, invisible, or ignored.

Don’t interrupt others. It is rude when you interrupt others-be an active listener. Interrupting the speaker can make them feel that what they are saying is unimportant. What you have to say can wait until the person is finished speaking.

Think before you speak. Once you have said something, you can’t take it back. Think before you speak, be aware of the impact of your words on other people.  

Arrive on time. By being punctual, this shows you respect others. Arriving early allows you to compose yourself and prepare for the meeting or event.

Don’t Gossip. Don’t let gossip get the better of you. It is a killer in a work setting and in a personal setting-it destroys your reputation as well as the person you are gossiping about, and … it diminishes your leadership potential.

Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Look at what the people in the position you aspire to, are wearing. Always be well groomed, with a neat appearance:  combed hair, teeth brushed, clean clothes, etc.

Use emails carefully. Make sure you check your email before you send it, review it to see if it looks and sounds professional, check for spelling, grammar, and tone.

Exercise patience-it is a sign of emotional intelligence!


What does etiquette and good manners have to do with leadership? It,

  1. Teaches us about cultural norms to help us understand what is expected of us, if we are in a new place or, situation and feel unsure.
  2. Paves the way for success at work and in life.
  3. Makes for quality leaders and a civil society.
  4. Creates self-confidence. When we understand the norms, we become more confident because we know what is expected of us.
  5. Promotes effective communication between people or groups. Helps children learn how to fit into society from a young age.
  6. Protects the feelings of others by teaching tolerance and patience.

“Politeness is a sign of dignity, not subservience.”

President Theodore Roosevelt

I challenge you to consider areas in your life where you can improve your manners and etiquette.

Let’s start a movement of good manners and civility!

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Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Published by Diane Allen

Hi there, my name is Diane and welcome to my blog site! Leadership mindset is the mindset that embraces, vision, courage and action.

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