“Good manners will get you far in life,” is something that my family always repeated to me when I was a child. A genuine smile accompanied by a “please” or “thank you” has a lot more power than people think.
Some may regard it as basic etiquette or just common sense—but it’s become less common than some of us may think. There’s a school of thought that believes we don’t owe each other anything, and it’s something some people really believe in.
While we don’t owe other people money and in most cases, our time, we do owe them basic human decency—it’s a hot take to some, but it’s something I stand by. Being human is a collective experience that we can’t go through alone. So we can probably say that, yes, we do owe other people something.
If you want to go beyond basic human decency and venture into the potentially thoughtful category, here are some nice (and free!) things you can do for others. It’ll benefit them, of course because it’s a nice thing to do, but it’ll also give you the opportunity to give a good impression.
Keep in mind that these are just suggestions. I am not your mother so I will not tell you how to live your life, but it’s all small things that can make a world of difference.
Sending handwritten “thank you” notes
Chances are you’ve seen those articles and videos of people saying you should thank your job interviewer after meeting them. According to those types of videos, it’ll increase your chance of getting hired.
Sending thank you emails or writing thank you notes shouldn’t just apply to those situations, though. Being grateful for something someone did for you can manifest in a simple, verbal “thank you,” but putting it in writing gives it another layer.
Taking the time out of your day to express that type of gratitude (and maybe even pulling out a pen, some paper, and an envelope) can really touch people. Who wouldn’t want to receive a handwritten note in the text and DM era?
Being on time
Another hot take is that concept of “Filipino time” is something we should actively work to change. Time isn’t just money, it’s also literally a part of someone’s life. Sure, showing up five minutes late is an inconvenience, but showing up over half an hour late shouldn’t be normalized.
Being on time shows how much you care about the other person—and yourself. Being late can reflect badly and show people that something (especially if it’s something important) isn’t a priority.
But of course, with traffic being the way it is, no one can be perfect.
Answering someone when you can—especially when it’s important
Text and call anxiety are real things, but there are moments when you just don’t want to pick up the phone for no reason. If you care for someone, it’s important to maintain and nurture those relationships. Not picking up the phone or shooting a quick “sorry I’ll reply to this later” text can cause some of those relationships to wilt.
The people who know and love you will understand, but if you want to show them that you care, this is a quick and simple way to do it.
It’s especially important if someone who never contacts you (who means something to you, of course) reaches out to you. It might be because it’s a critical matter and calling or texting is the easiest way to get a hold of you.
Of course, it’s another story if it’s an old college acquaintance who suddenly wants to meet for coffee and wants to discuss a “business opportunity.”
Putting your phone away during a conversation
Our phones have basically become another appendage we can’t live without (and that includes our parents who always used to complain about how we’re always on our phones or laptops). It’s a common sight to witness a conversation with both or all parties being actively on their phones.
Whether the conversation is casual or serious in nature, giving the other person your full attention is something they’d appreciate. An easy way to do that is by fully putting your phone away or putting it face down on the table.
It’s also discouraging to see someone more interested in what’s happening inside the handheld, glowing box versus how your day is going.
Showing genuine interest
Being interested in something someone has to say is a highly underrated thing to do. Small talk has received a bad reputation over the years, but it’s actually a delightful social exercise if you have the energy and bandwidth to do so.
Paying full attention to another person while they talk about mundane things will never go unnoticed. Showing genuine interest isn’t just for the small things, though. When someone has a problem or is telling you about a big life event and you’re actively listening and paying attention is a surefire way of showing you care.
And for the little things, there’s no greater achievable joy than listening to someone talk about their pet. It’s one of the best things in the world.
Just being there
There’s a lot going on in the world right now—and probably even more going on in your personal life—so it’s easy to get distracted and lost in thought. Being overstimulated due to the amount of currently ongoing historical events is also (sadly) normal, but being present in the moment with yourself and the people you’re with is still something you should do.
There’s a lot of worrying about the future (and the past, if we’re being honest), but the present is more important than both of those things. And it’s happening right now.