We all know Hong Kong is a busy, stressful place to live. But that’s no reason not to develop and display good manners.
It’s easy to get caught up in your own life, even when you’re out and about. With your eyes fixed on your phone screen, and your earphones blasting music in your ears, you can shut out the world. But if there are other people, even strangers, around, you are not alone, and you need to pay some attention to them, and acknowledge their equal right to enjoying their life.
This is where manners come in. Manners do not need to be the old-fashioned shows of subservience you see in a period drama. Good manners are mainly proof that you are being considerate towards others. Good manners show that you respect other people, and in this way, make other people respect you. They don’t take much effort, they make other people’s lives easier, and will make you feel better about yourself.
The old saying “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” – treat other people how you want to be treated – is a good starting point. Here are some basic manners we should all put into practice.
Manners at home
- Wish your parents and siblings good morning and goodnight.
- Say please and thank you. They’re little words, but when someone helps you in some way, whether it’s passing the rice, or doing your laundry, acknowledge them.
- Be helpful without being asked. Tidy your room, help prepare and clear up after meals, help with chores.
- Share – whether it’s food, gifts, or good news, spread the love with your family.
Manners when you’re out
- Hold doors open for anyone coming in behind you, especially if they are older, have small children with them, or are carrying lots of bags. It takes an extra two seconds. It’s not going to make you late.
- Offer your seat to elderly people, parents with babies, pregnant women, anyone with a physical disability, or anyone carrying a lot of luggage.
- Respect other people’s right to hear themselves think. In other words, don’t blast music so loud that everyone knows what you’re listening to, and don’t shout when talking to your friends. You’re standing or sitting near each other. You don’t need to yell. Also, don’t swear. (People swear. But don’t do it loudly in public, it can upset people.)
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- Mobile phones are obviously a huge part of life, but look up once in a while. Don’t read it while you’re walking – why should someone else have to step out of your way? Don’t use it when you’re at a meal with other people, whether you’re home or at a restaurant, or put it on the table and keep checking. Keep it in your bag or pocket. If you’re expecting an important call, leave the ringer on. Otherwise, any messages can be answered once you finish eating.
- When you need to queue, join the back, don’t push people, or push in front of people who are already waiting, and wait patiently. You’ll be at the front soon enough.
- If you want to pass someone, say “excuse me” or “m’goi”. Don’t stand right behind them huffing, or just push past.
- If you see a stranger struggling with heavy bags, offer to help carry one.
- Be punctual. Showing up late is disrespectful.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Not only is it rude not to, letting those germs fly everywhere spreads disease.
- If you have a mouth full of food, don’t talk!
- Say please and thank you!