Thimble Thoughts: Good Manners In Conversation

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Good Manners In Conversation

I've been doing somewhat of a series taken from an old 1936 text book called Good Manners For Young Americans. You can find the rest of these posts in the side bar.

Today's post is Good Manners In Conversation. Oh dear! This is not a good one. After reading this chapter I realize that I fail in this area greatly. Those of you who know me personally, will find this to be true seeing you've had the honor of carrying on a conversation with me and know that I have a tendency to let my mouth run away with itself sometimes. But anyway, here goes.....

The ill-timed word we might have kept,
Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung?
The word we had not sense to say,
Who knows how gladly it had rung?
"The boy or girl who tries to be natural and who speaks in a pleasantly modulated voice will be liked by others. But the individual who talks rudely, or monopolizes the conversation, or contradicts others does not make friends readily and is apt to be heartily disliked."
"Curt answers are not made by thoughtful and well-bred boys and girls. Neither is it proper to answer with an "Uh-huh," a "Yep," or "Oh, Yeah!"
"When you are with others, talk about matters of common interest. If the group is a small one, talk with all the members of the group, not just one or two of them." I am definitely a big fan of this one. I can honestly say that I do try very hard to be like this. I won't deny that it is sometimes very difficult to reach out to those who are a little weird. But this is certainly something that needs to be worked on with kids today. It's one thing to have a best friend whom you share common interests, your secrets, etc, but when you "click" in a group, that can become a problem. We should never make anyone feel left out. Oh sure, they may be a little strange to everyone else, but reach out to them anyway. You might be surprised at what a loyal friend they will be.
"If you are entertaining friends in your home, always be sure they are included in the conversation. If the conversation should turn to some topic which you know to be embarrassing or disagreeable to someone in the group, it is your duty to turn the talk to some other topic." Ok, it just got me. I love, love, LOVE to pick on others and embarrass them just a little. Of course, I can take what's dished out at me too. But I do have a tendency to pick on someone while we're in a group. Is there anyone out there who knows me that would say I am telling the truth. There.....I confessed. Will I change? Probably not, but I will work on it. :)
"It is also improper to talk in church, at the school assembly, or other public buildings where others may be disturbed." How about that....Did you notice that this old public school book referred to the children being quiet in church? We certainly do not have text books on good manners today, and we most definitely do not have any that would assume our children would be in church!
"It is a sign of good breeding if you are quick to apologize for any mistake made or any discourtesy to another person." This one stood out to me because they used the term "....sign of good breeding if...." As an adult, do we put this into practice? If there is an instance where we have hurt someone or have behaved rudely, do we apologize quickly for it or do we just hope the other person forgets about it? And are we setting a good example for our children in this area?
"The individual who is constantly finding fault with everyoe and everything is never a popular conversationalist." Hello??????? I can not STAND to be around someone that complains all the time. It brings me DOWN! I won't lie and say that I've never complained about something, but there are some that all they do is go on and on with their complaints about this or that and a lot of the time it's about things that really don't matter. Don't do that. It's annoying! ;)
"As a rule, conversation should be directed to things of general interest, not to one's ills, family affairs, troubles, religious views objectionable to others, personal expenses or criticisms of others." Well, what's left? HA, just kidding. First of all let me say that as far as the "religious views objectionable to others" part, I don't believe you should go around forcing your beliefs down other's throats, but when put in a situation where the opportunity is given to share your Christ, then it becomes a whole other ball game. Now! On to the rest of it. How many of us have those in our lives that we avoid asking the question, "How are you doing today" because we know they're going to tell us? "Oh, I'm all right, I guess. If it weren't for my nose hurting. I've had a cold for three weeks and I've rubbed it raw. And my side has been acting up again. You know I had an appendectomy last year and I think it grew back...." We all know someone like that, don't we? I mean, it's one thing to let someone know you have physical problems, but it's another thing when that's all you talk about. No one is THAT interested in your physical ailments except the Lord and He wants to bare those burdens for you. Let him.
Don't talk about your family problems to everyone in the free world. Especially when it concerns your marriage or even your children. It's like my friend, Rachel, said several posts back on the virtuous woman, when you forgive your spouse (or children) for something they have done to hurt you and you've forgotten about it, the people you've talked to will remember and judge your loved one on what you have said.
And if you like to shop and buy name brand clothes and shoes and everything in your kitchen has to be Kraft or Nabisco, don't run to me and tell me about your financial woes. Work on cutting your spending first. It's hard to listen to someone express their concern about their finances when they're wearing Tommy Hilfiger and have plans to go out of town for the weekend because they just need to get away for a couple of days. I had a friend tell me a while back that while she was in school she was eating vienna sausages, literally, everyday for lunch. It's all she had. Did you know that the entire time she was doing that, I had no idea. She never said a word to me about it. She was always pleasant to be around and never once complained about their family's finances and here she was with a husband and children. They struggled and no one knew. They just trusted the Lord for what they needed and He certainly did provide. This was her testimony.
And then lastly, "criticism of others." UGH! I'm somewhat critical of other people. Mostly in the area of their spiritual well being. This is something I need to work on. Being critical is the sister to gossip. Don't you agree?
"when others are talking, be careful not to interrupt them, nor to stand so close as to overhear their conversation." This is most DEFINITELY a pet peeve of mine. Especially when it comes to children. I forget who told me this, but it is good advice. They said that their children were taught that if their parent were talking to another person and the child needed that parent, they were to place their hand on the parent's arm. To let the child know they knew that they were needed, the parent would place their hand over the child's hand and the child would know that in just a second, they would have their parent's undivided attention. That's a good tip. Plus, it helps teach the child good manners.
If you your lips would keep from slips,
Five things observe with care:
To whom you speak, of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.