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Each week, I am going to add a topic of interest or outrage to discuss.  If you have a response, please feel free to e-mail me at  I will try to include a way to respond on this page, so we can keep the discussion going. 


Some people just weren't brought up with good manners.  Others are so polite it makes you sick.  I hope and pray that there is a way to help people who don't see that being polite is the only way to get by in society.  You have to say "please" and "thank you" even if someone hasn't done something that you are grateful for or that you want done.  Human beings respond to requests based on the attitude and approach of the person requesting.  If you don't ask for something in the proper way, odds are not in your favor.  One way that always works is to use that simple word, "Please."  Here are some situations when this word is used properly:

"Can you please bring this to the office?"

"Will you please stop screaming at each other?"

"Can you please walk to the garbage can and throw that away?"

See how easy it is to include this into a conversation?  It is phenomenal how much gets accomplished when you make the person who is helping you feel like what they are doing is important and appreciated. 

When the action that you would like done has been completed, it is really important to say "Thank you."  Whether it is shortened to "thanks," written, or spoken is not the issue.  The fact that you mention that you are grateful for and appreciate what someone else has done for you is the important thing.  And people notice it.  A lot.  When you neglect to say thanks or please, people remember that about you long after you have gone.  And you know that your parents raised you better.   I know they did.

Do you have to say "Yes, sir"  and "No, ma'am"?  This all depends on the situation.  It is without question the most polite thing you can do, but it really depends on the person you are asking.  My aunt absolutely demanded that her two sons always answer her with "ma'am".  Always.  My parents did not, but I know that when I am in certain situations, I need to use these simple phrases to make an impression.  Where you should not use sir and ma'am:

When you are talking to me.  I don't want you to call me sir and I don't ever expect it.  It makes me feel old and, even if I am going bald, I don't feel like a sir.

When you are talking to your friends.  They are not ma'ams.  This makes you sound sarcastic, and then you have missed the point entirely.

Here are some situations where it is important and polite to use sir and ma'am:

When you are in trouble.  It shows that you are paying attention and taking the comments and discussion seriously.  Not doing this can actually get you into more trouble because it is seen as a lack of respect.  Not the attitude you want to display when trouble is headed your way.

When you are being sarcastic.  Don't ever do this when you are trying to be sarcastic.  1)  It is not even a little funny.  2)  It makes people really mad and effects their opinion of you for a long time.

When you are ordering food.  Think about this.  Your job is to work all day behind a counter getting orders for people who think you are the scum of the earth because you serve food.  Whose hamburger is going to get the spit - the person who says, "Yes, ma'am," or the person who says, "Um, I want a double cheeseburger now?"   I bet you 100 times out of 100 that it isn't the 1st guy.  People who work with food command a lot of respect.  Especially the ladies in the cafeteria at school.  They are nice, and they can give you what you want if you treat them with some respect.  They work hard and have earned your being polite.  Stop just pointing and growling.   It isn't nice, polite, or respectful.

There are other times and places when manners are totally forgotten.  Here are some times you could be more conscious or helpful around school, at home, and in general.

When you are going into or out of any door anywhere in the world.  When you open a door, look behind you to see if there is anyone coming behind you.  If you see someone, hold the door for them.  It takes a half a second.  This is helpful and appreciated.  Everytime it happens.

When you are going up or down stairs.  Always stand to the right.  Don't take up the whole stair case.  That's just mean.   People who are coming up the stairs have the right to go up, just as you have the right to come down.  Don't make an ordeal of it.  Just get out of the way. 

When you see someone carrying something that is bigger than they are.  Help them.  Odds are that they will do something nice for you when it is all done for.  Not that that is a reason to do something polite, but people respond to kindness with kindness.

If all these things don't help you see the value of manners and being polite, maybe this will help.  What goes around comes around.  It sounds corny, but it is very true.  When you do a good deed, you are owed a good deed in the overall scheme of things.  Sometimes it may take a while until you are paid back, but the return on your investment is a thousand times the initial effort.

Most people remember kind things that people have done for them years after the act has occurred.  It makes that much of an impression.  I have a friend who helped a guy a couple years younger than he was learn how to play golf.  This guy has now gotten a job selling very expensive golf clubs and is giving my friend a free set for the time and energy he spent helping him back in high school over 10 years ago.   So you don't play golf.  Doesn't matter.  The point is that this guy remember something nice that someone else did a long time ago.  What my friend did influenced this guy to such and extent that his whole job is dependent on my friend's kind act. 

I don't think anyone can make a change overnight, but you can make an effort to be a more polite and mind your manners.  People will treat you better, and you as an individual have the power to make someone else feel better about themselves.  All because you tried to remember to say, "Please," and, "Thank you."  This reminds me of a little song from "Ernest Saves Christmas" (actually not a bad movie if you can get yourself to sit through it.  I recommend it) when the new Santa Claus was being selected.  He had a song he like to sing:

They never seem old

They always seem new

Those three little words

Please and Thank you.

Have a great Christmas and a Happy and Safe New Year.

Mr. M