Showing good manners demonstrates that you are able to respect the appropriate rules
of decency and kindness in a social situation. It shows humility and respect towards
the people around you; that you have self-control and consideration for others. People
are inclined to trust you.
Good manners tend to be a sign of acting from a position of strength, while bad manners
are often a sign of weakness. Weak people often equate niceness with weakness because
they are unable to enforce boundaries, while strong people can afford to be kind
and well-mannered because they are able to stand up for themselves (politely) when
To show good manners is a kind gesture that promotes connectedness, which people
This is what should be done by one who is skilled in goodness
And who knows the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright, straightforward and gentle in speech,
Humble and not conceited, contented and easily satisfied.
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
Peaceful and calm, and wise and skilful,
not proud and demanding in nature.
Let them not do the slightest thing that the wise would later reprove.
They should wish:
In gladness and in safety
May all beings be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be,
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to-be-born,
May all beings be at ease!
Let none deceive another, or despise any being in any state,
Let none through anger or ill-will wish harm upon another.
Even as a mother protects with her life her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart should one cherish all living beings,
Radiating kindness over the entire world,
Spreading upwards to the skies, and downwards to the depths,
Outwards and unbounded, freed from hatred and ill-will.
Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down,
Free from drowsiness, one should sustain this recollection.
I think that this Buddhist compassion meditation gives an excellent description of
The Montagu Principle
This is named after the 18th century essayist and poet, Lady Mary Montagu.
Are there lessons from this research for our own behaviour, do you think? Do you
think if people are rude to you, if you just respond politely? I sometimes find
this with e-mails. If people send me a not-very-pleasant e-mail, if I'm really polite
back, I usually get a really nice one back from them afterwards.
Dr Jeremy Frimer
Absolutely. I think it's really taken me aback just how sensitive most people are
to incivility, and how, when they experience it, how much negative emotion and anger
they feel, how much they ruminate on it, and how much they want to get the person
back. And so I think oftentimes the intent is, well, if I'm going to be uncivil
then it'll get their attention, and they'll reflect on the error of their ways, and
then they'll correct their path so that they're not bothering me so much any more,
not being rude to me. But I think that that turns out not to really be accurate
in terms of how it actually happens. Rather than them reflecting on their own behaviour,
they really are just taking number and looking out for you and trying to get back
at you. And so it really seems to me, so far, based on the data I've seen, that
the Montagu Principle, that civility buys you everything, even in the worst of times,
even when someone's attacking you, responding with kindness and respect is better
than fighting fire with fire.
Jeremy Frimer. Now Catherine, it's a lovely idea, isn't it? That politeness tends
to pay. But I think it is quite surprising in politics, because I think sometimes
the people we describe as having charisma can be really quite forceful with their
views, to try to break through and get them out there.
Professor Catherine Loveday
I think that's true, but I think that most of the research suggests that, not just
civility, but kind of agreeing and being non-confrontational ultimately is more effective,
and if someone's arguing with you about something, in fact the best way to get them
on side is to agree with them about something. And if you can kind of give a little
bit, and that's not just politeness, it's everything about seeming to be a kind of
nice human being, I think people respond in a much warmer way and they're much more
ready to listen to what you've got to say.