Here’s the final installment in our look at Manners for Moderns, a 1938 etiquette guide for young men.
THE LAST WORD
We hope that you have found this little book interesting and that it has set you thinking of ways and means of improving yourself.
We suggest that you make a copy of the self-analysis charts given at the end of the first chapter. Put them away somewhere and six months from now fill out another set. Then compare with the first set. If you’ve been giving a lot of thought and practice to your manners, you’ll find that you have a much higher score on the second than you made on the first.
That’s the attitude we should give to life, for unless we keep on rating a higher score with the world around us we are going to slip down to the bottom of the class and find ourselves failures. A law of life is that one either goes backward or forward. It is impossible to stand still.
Probably one of the most valuable things which can enter any man’s mind is the knowledge that good manners are not meant for party wear but are a way of conduct that will yield rich returns with everyday life and practice. So wear your manners all the time. Be neat around the house, be courteous to your family, to your friends, and to those who serve you. Wear your manners when you’re driving a car. It may sometime save a life. Keep putting out that personal publicity when you’re traveling, even though you be far from your usual haunts. You may think you’re among strangers and it doesn’t matter what you do. But it does! For, if you slip in your habits, it is just that much harder to polish them up when the need arises. And never forget that you may be under the observation of someone who may be in a position to give you a helping hand at some future time.
Make good manners second nature. If you do, you’ll wake up one of these days to find that you can actually predict the behavior of people around you. People are like animals in that they purr under the right sort of treatment and bite back at the one who kicks them.
The grandest thing about etiquette is that it’s no easy to learn and so big a help in getting more fun and profit out of life. Never lose sight of the fact that getting along with people is three fourths of the campaign for popularity and success.
Be honest and fair with yourself. Learn to judge yourself with prejudice, to recognize and be proud of your good points, and at the same time to look coldly at your bad points and make a plan for getting rid of them. As soon as you are able to do that, you’ll have your publicity campaign half won, for you’ll be sympathizing with and understanding other people much more than you’ve ever done.
Keep that motto, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” before your mind all the time. If you can live up to that, it won’t matter if you do sometimes eat your salad with the wrong fork. For your manners will show that you have the right understanding of the obligations of being a gentleman. Good manners aren’t so much a matter of what you do as how you do it. It’s all summed up in that old verse:
|Politeness is to do and say
The kindest thing in the kindest way.