Manners Maketh The Man


Eyes, nose and mouth

Nothing should go into or come out of your nose in public. Ever. Picking, heavy blowing and snorting should all be done in the bathroom. For the car-driving nose miners who think they’re in Wonder Woman’s invisible jet, get a tissue. And a room. And never ever dine at the nose café.

Cover your mouth when coughing or yawning. Close your mouth when masticating. Open it to say something meaningful. “If you cannot say what you mean… you will never mean what you say and a gentleman should always mean what he says.”

Make eye contact.

Little people

Don’t ignore nascent bad manners. “Oh, it’s not little Johnny’s fault he threw the bread roll at the waitress, he’s just a child.” Good manners are not nearly as complicated as solving quadratic equations or remembering all the lanthanides and actinides in the Periodic Table. Rude kids become rude adults. Start early. According to bioethics expert, writer and professor Alexander McCall Smith, “Manners are the basic building blocks of civil society.”

Public transport

Public transport can be a minefield for even the most able-bodied commuter. Throw in a full leg cast, a couple of crutches and a neck brace and things get really hairy. Once, thusly attired, I was forced to stand on a bus for 20 minutes before a man, skeletally ancient and thatched with grey, offered me his seat while men half his age stared at me blankly. One did offer to hold my crutches, but didn’t offer up his seat. Bless.


Nailing it?

There are two types of people in this world: those who cut their nails in public and those who are decent. If you trim your talons anywhere other than in private, proceed at once to the June Dally-Watkins School Of Personal And Professional Deportment.

Darling, danke schön

Thank you: two of the most powerful words in the English language, which are remarkably scarce and seldom uttered from so many lips. An Unley shop assistant, appalled by ungrateful customers, kept a tally of those who thanked him at checkout. He waited three days and approximately 1,500 people before someone finally uttered the magic words.

Ring, ring

Dining al fresco at a quaint bayside eatery, I witnessed a disgruntled DILF throw his wife’s smart phone into the path of an oncoming shiny SUV. Sick of being ignored while she nibbled her Niçoise and texting incessantly, he tossed the offending hardware into the street and the crowd went wild.


Two diners even shook his hand. Unless you’re awaiting an emergency call, there is no need to have your phone at the dinner table. Put your mobile phone away while being served by a shop assistant. You’re not that important and they’ll call you back… maybe.

I’m not racist but…

If you start a sentence off like that, then you probably are.

Social Media

Don’t post sultry selfies alongside dead grandparents on Facebook. Don’t Instagram wicked shaka salutes with your homies at funerals. Don’t air your dirty laundry. Don’t cyber brawl. Don’t bully. #meantweetssuck.

Grub and tucker
Dining etiquette means more than escargot forks, caviar spoons and elbows off tables. Objectionable behaviour often centres around treatment of the wait staff. We’re looking at you, Flamenco Fingers. Never, ever snap your digits.


Eye contact or a discreet hand gesture is more than enough to alert a waiter that your San Pellegrino has lost its fizz. Click your fingers and not only will you look like a tool, you’ll most likely be served last. One for the waiters: don’t clear plates until everyone at the table has finished eating. We know you’re in a hurry, but give a man his food.

Email aptitude

Use Reply All and distribution lists sparingly, unless, like a former colleague of mine, you want the entire organisation to know you have genital herpes.

Are You Listening?

Hearing and listening are not the same thing. If you don’t know the difference, perhaps you haven’t been listening. Hearing simply happens. Listening, however, is a conscience choice.


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