Being Well-mannered?

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Can you all give me tips to be well-mannered? I was never really taught manners in school (public) and now I get to college and I find at the business school I tend to be much ruder than other people. My own parents tell me I have poor manners. I feel really bad, like I don't mean to be this way and I want to change.

Any tips/ advice?

Comments (57)

 
Nov 19, 2019 - 9:12am

There are legitimately people you can hire or classes you can take to teach you.

Commercial Real Estate Developer
 
Nov 19, 2019 - 10:02am

it's not the best, but some john bridges books are good. here are the main faux pas I see people (old and young) doing in professional situations which are easily fixed.

  • slouching. as JBP says, stand/sit up straight with your shoulders back
  • breathing out of your mouth. close your fucking mouth unless you're talking, eating, performing fellatio/cunnilingus, at the dentist, or momentarily shocked.
  • avoiding eye contact during greetings, stop it. this has cultural nuance but in USA and Europe it's generally expected regardless of status. africa, asia, and LatAm be careful.
  • interrupting. don't do it, even if the person is pausing, let them finish, then respond.
  • talking about yourself too much. aside from places where it's solicited (job interview), always be trying to learn about the other person, you'll get to say your piece at some point.
  • table manners. if it's a fork and knife meal, eat bites you can comfortably chew with your mouth entirely closed. put the silverware down after each bite, and sit up straight when you're eating, not hunched over your food like a starved prisoner
  • humility. no one cares about your accomplishments unless they ask, so keep your mouth shut outside of job interviews. normal conversation, seek first to understand, then to be understood. I cannot stand when IB/PE guys talk to me about their bonuses, it's incredibly unbecoming.

out of curiosity, where do you think you're being rude? manners is a broad topic, a little more data would be helpful

 
Nov 19, 2019 - 10:56am

thebrofessor:

it's not the best, but some john bridges books are good. here are the main faux pas I see people (old and young) doing in professional situations which are easily fixed.

  • slouching. as JBP says, stand/sit up straight with your shoulders back
  • breathing out of your mouth. close your fucking mouth unless you're talking, eating, performing fellatio/cunnilingus, at the dentist, or momentarily shocked.
  • avoiding eye contact during greetings, stop it. this has cultural nuance but in USA and Europe it's generally expected regardless of status. africa, asia, and LatAm be careful.
  • interrupting. don't do it, even if the person is pausing, let them finish, then respond.
  • talking about yourself too much. aside from places where it's solicited (job interview), always be trying to learn about the other person, you'll get to say your piece at some point.
  • table manners. if it's a fork and knife meal, eat bites you can comfortably chew with your mouth entirely closed. put the silverware down after each bite, and sit up straight when you're eating, not hunched over your food like a starved prisoner
  • humility. no one cares about your accomplishments unless they ask, so keep your mouth shut outside of job interviews. normal conversation, seek first to understand, then to be understood. I cannot stand when IB/PE guys talk to me about their bonuses, it's incredibly unbecoming.

out of curiosity, where do you think you're being rude? manners is a broad topic, a little more data would be helpful

Not a bad list. Honestly, employ a variant of the Golden Rule. If you don't want to see someone else performing an action, or hear them talk about something, that is probably something you should avoid doing yourself. It's not 100% effective and you might not graduate the Emily Post Institute, but it'll be enough that no one is going to remember you as "that guy" which is really what you should be trying to avoid.

 
Nov 19, 2019 - 1:59pm

gotta keep this short cause I can really ramble on stuff like this. if you have more questions please follow up.

  1. be aware of what you're doing all the time. this is incredibly hard to do if you're speaking out of turn or dominating the attention of the room, so it will help.
  2. with this awareness, consider if you would approve of someone doing exactly what you are doing (assuming you're a good barometer of what's proper)

may think of more later, but specific questions/situations would be grea

 
  • Prospect in Risk Mnmgt
Nov 19, 2019 - 2:41pm

How to achieve statement 1 without losing who I am. want to be mannered but still have a hardo personality. The way you wrote it seems like putting on a show at all times which I can’t do.

Array
 
  • Prospect in Risk Mnmgt
Nov 20, 2019 - 4:02pm

Tough guy (slightly a jerk at times) but still well mannered if that makes sense. I don't wan't manners to turn me soft.

Array
 
Nov 21, 2019 - 7:10am

Prospect in Risk Mnmgt:

Tough guy (slightly a jerk at times) but still well mannered if that makes sense. I don't wan't manners to turn me soft.

I take it you believe being "tough" or :"alpha" is the way to get respect, that's wrong. be direct, be kind, and spend most of your time listening, that's how you gain respect.

lose the idea that you need to be an alpha bro, your manners will improve by default.

 
  • Prospect in Risk Mnmgt
Nov 21, 2019 - 8:24am

I'm not tough or alpha to necessarily gain respect that's just who I am as a person and I don't want to change that. At the same time I don't want to be an obnoxious jerk either. It's definitely possible to be both, I would think.

Array
 
Most Helpful
Nov 21, 2019 - 9:22am

ok I'm going to tell you something you don't want to hear. you have to put on a show. if you are naturally a jerk/hardo/alpha/tough guy, tone that the fuck down in just about every situation, it's uncalled for outside of sports or really intense negotiations. you need to play the game. consider other people's emotions, check your ego, listen and be silent WAY more than you speak (like 80% of the time, if not more), and be humble.

being polite and being "slightly a jerk at times" do not go together. I'm not suggesting you need to be a southern gentleman, kiss ass, suckup, etc., all the time, but what is the point of being a jerk? why not lead with kindness? why not lead with open mindedness? this is not what you came here for (some formula that allows you to advance your career, gain respect, be thought of as polite, and still be a hardo), but that's life bro. tone it down, or else you'll continue to have the same experiences you've been having.

what I'm saying is you can be well mannered without being a jerk. great example. you're at thanksgiving dinner, your aunt and brother start bantering about the student loan crisis and income inequality (they both make shitty financial decisions and while smart, aren't educated on capitalism), agreeing with one another and dominating the conversation. now, how would a well mannered person cut through the tension in the room? first, don't engage, if someone asks you for your opinion, lie and say you haven't thought about it much, but expand on that saying "you know, I don't really wanna spend our dinner trying to solve the world's problems, what time do the cowboys play?" that is a situation that calls for manners, being the bigger person, considering others (don't put people down, you gain nothing long term), and none of those are possible if you're so dead set on being a hardo, so stop it.

let's try another scenario, you're working on a group project, either at b-school or at work. inevitably someone is slacking off, others are quiet, and one person is hard charging trying to be a mini mussolini with the project. what would a tough guy/hardo do? try to "win" by force. what does every smart general try to do when facing a difficult front? flank, always flank. start by asking questions "hey, just so we're on the same page, what is everyone's understanding of their role within the project? I'll go first, because I am a bit lost (even if you're not, say this, it reduces tension)...now how about you John (one of the quiet ones)" build consensus, diffuse tension, you will be thought of in much higher regard versus if you just come in swinging your dick around trying to one up everyone.

finally, an immensely difficult situation, dinner including your male boss, his wife, and someone else important (maybe a client, out of town expert, etc.). you get seated next to one of these people and you know you better be on your best behavior. first order of business - look at the menu in advance. you don't want to disrupt the flow by taking forever with your order. have an idea of what you want (it doesn't matter, the meal is not important), and have a backup plan. next, go with the flow. if everyone is ordering cocktails, feel free to get one. if they're ordering wine, have a glass if you like wine. if not, an apertivo is fine, I'd just stay off straight liquor unless others are partaking. also, sip at the slowest cadence that would keep you up with everyone else. say the boss is pounding cabernet and the PhD from your firm's economics department is nursing his cocktail, nurse yours too.

now the really difficult part: conversation and manners. first, look at my list at the beginning of this thread, do all of those things, next, focus mostly on asking questions. easy ones are how did you meet so and so, how was your trip in, where else are you visiting while in town, travel plans for holidays, and so on. I would not talk shop unless the most senior person brings it up, very taboo, the way you advance and get respect is by flanking, not frontal assault. if someone asks you a question "so, tell me about yourself" be brief, be memorable, and be done, like "well, I grew up in a mountain town in a part of Idaho you probably haven't heard of, grew up hunting and snowboarding, but it's hard to build a career in that so I studied finance at XYZ U and haven't looked back. how about you?" most people just want to talk about themselves (yes, that includes well mannered people), but if you're not the focus of an evening, do not steal the show. trust me on this, the more people talk about themselves when they are with you, the more positive of an impression they will have of their time with you. if you can make people feel comfortable, safe, and open up a bit, you will be thought of as well mannered and a gentleman.

if you have other scenarios you want to unpack, fire away, but this should give you a good start.

 
Nov 20, 2019 - 1:45pm

This is a great list. I'd add a few.

  • First Impressions are huge, if you win this the rest will be much easier. Handshake: Firm but comfortable, meet at their level. Don't fucking close your hand around the other person's fingers too early before your palms meet. This is the absolute worst and if someone does this to me I am instantly turned off. Make eye contact.

  • Body Language: Beyond posture, present yourself confidently but open to who you are addressing. Don't cross your arms and don't fidget.

  • Know your own tendencies and make a conscious effort to balance yourself out. I have RBF sometimes when fatigued or while concentrating, I make an effort to smile and make good eye contact when I first meet someone and when they engage me. If you naturally smile a ton consider making an effort to curb that when appropriate so people know you are serious and sincere.

  • Grooming/Hygiene: Get this figured out and make it habit. Respect yourself and others will be more likely to do the same.

  • Don't chew gum. Have a mint instead if necessary.

  • Keep your phone in your pocket.

 
Nov 19, 2019 - 12:12pm

you must learn to tame a wild stallion. make him your steed. the rest will follow.

heister:

Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

https://arthuxtable.com/
 
Nov 19, 2019 - 2:22pm

WSO is an awesome website with lots of smart people but I am not sure if it should be the go to place if you want to learn about manners.

http://www.series65examtutor.com
 
  • Prospect in Risk Mnmgt
Nov 19, 2019 - 2:38pm

Whrte rose do I go? Public school doesn’t teach manners but apparently used to which is why my parents expect me to have it.

Array
 
Nov 19, 2019 - 2:45pm

Some people have already touched on this, but the first step is definitely being self-aware, and learning to not be a negative externality to other people. Chew with your mouth closed, don't slurp soup or coffee or whatever you're drinking, don't smell bad, don't walk slow on a sidewalk if everyone else is speeding past you, etc. I know I find all of the things I just listed annoying, and lots of other people do too, so if you can prevent yourself from pissing off others, I think that's a great first step.

Other things I can think of off the top of my head once you get that down, take your hat off indoors, hold the door open for people, sit upright (don't slouch), let people off elevators before you get on, say excuse me when you need to, treat staff/sales associates/etc well.

 
Nov 19, 2019 - 6:18pm

Empathy. This is no offense meant, but everyone has a different capacity for empathy and each person should be aware of what their level is. Some people physically cry just thinking about the plight of XYZ, and some other people will roll over others with tanks. Not everyone is equally empathetic.

if this is resonating with you, ("I have challenges putting myself in others' shoes") you can approach it analytically instead of emotionally if it doesn't come natural. Think cause-effect: if you did X, how would this person respond (or feel)? What if you did Y? Is doing X or Y significantly more difficult for you? If not, then consider what will maximize the best outcome for the other party. For example, if I'm assigning work to someone, the way in which I do it doesn't make a big difference to me, but it could make a big difference to that person.

If you're not convinced and need a burning platform: you will have significantly worse life and career outcomes if you don't solve this problem now. All senior level jobs are based on interpersonal interaction and you will have to improve your attitude to have a positive relationship at home and at work.

TLDR: You have to force yourself to consider cause-effect if you're not naturally empathetic.

Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.
 
Nov 20, 2019 - 11:50am

This! I grew up with unemotional parents which naturally made me less empathetic towards others problems. For example, in situations like the below:

-Someone telling me a big life moment like the birth of a child
-Someone letting me know about a tragic situation like a death in the family

My natural inclination is not to say "Congratulations, that's awesome" or "I'm sorry to hear," but rather to brush over it and talk about something else like work. I've been called out on it by friends before, so I've tried to get better about acknowledging these things (partially so that I don't seem like an emotionless robot but also so I better my treatment of others).

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