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Heads up!

By Ian Nance - posted Thursday, 11 April 2019

Mannerscan typically demonstrate one's identity within a socio-cultural group. They usually set the demarcation of socio-cultural identities and the creation of boundaries which inform who is to be trusted or who is to be considered what some refer to as "other-table material".

Manners help make contact between people pleasant and not irritating. A lot depends on courtesy and behaving towards other people in the same way you would like them to treat you.

Having good manners means acting in a way that is socially acceptable and respectful; excellent manners can help you to have better relationships with people you know, or will meet.


Some are learnt through acceptance of what is familiar, and through exposure and realisation of the behavior of those who are identified as foreign or different. Those folk may suffer alienation from those identifying with a particular grouping which might reflect a person's fashion or community standing.

Those of you who are elderly would possibly have grown up in a culture where politeness was paramount, perhaps thanks to a grounding by your parents. One reason for parents accepting the general rules of behavior could have been to show that caring for others often results in reciprocal returns of goodness, in the same way that discourtesy often triggers retaliation.

I suggest that in today's less rigid milieu, many forms of personal habit are no longer governed by established societal attitudes but rather stem from a less sensitive interest in the reactions of others, or else a total disregard for them.

Every culture adheres to a different set of manners, and a lot of manners are cross-culturally common. Manners are a subset of norms which are informally enforced through self-regulation, social policing, and being publicly performed.

During my defence service, I gained a companion who was born in England and did some of his national service in the Brigade of Guards. With much hilarity, he used to recount one occasion concerning removing head dress when going indoors. As his unit was filing into its regular Sunday church parade, a couple of military police, the "Redcaps", were positioned at the entrance. My friend was a bit late in removing his beret, at which one Redcap barked at him, forcefully, "Caps orf in the house of Gawd, c***!"

Although the British have a well deserved reputation for their nuance and speed of humour as well as a history of etiquette and high standards of social deportment, cultural quirks regarding manners are quite trans-national.


In China, a person who takes the last item of food from a common plate or bowl without first offering it to others at the table may be seen as a glutton who is insulting the host's generosity.

Traditionally, if guests do not have leftover food in front of them at the end of a meal, it is to the dishonour of the host.

In the United States of America, a guest is expected to eat all of the food given to them, as a compliment to the quality of the cooking. However, it is still considered polite to offer food from a common plate or bowl to others at the table.

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About the Author

Ian Nance's media career began in radio drama production and news. He took up TV direction of news/current affairs, thence freelance television and film producing, directing and writing. He operated a program and commercial production company, later moving into advertising and marketing.

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