Most people learn good manners as children. Parents and other adults typically teach these manners by example and reinforce them with direction and praise. But what happens if someone reaches adulthood without a clue as to what good manners are and with a complete lack of social graces? The fact is, good manners are essential in social situations, professional settings, and anytime you interact with other people. And while adults are perfectly capable of learning these manners, some of them will be resistant to your instruction and guidance. The steps below, however, will show you how to teach good manners to an adult in a subtle and unoffensive way.
Demonstrate good manners. When you are in the presence of someone whose manners are lacking, be sure to practice proper etiquette at all times. Eventually, they may begin to follow your lead.
Teach good manners to someone else. Take every opportunity to teach good manners to your children while you are with the less-than-mannerly adult. This will enable you to offer specific instruction without actually directing it toward the offending individual.
Act as an interpreter. If you witness the adult being rude to another person or persons, take him or her aside and explain how that may have come across to other people. For example: "I'm sure you didn't mean it this way, but it sounded like you were ordering your wife to get you a cup of coffee. A 'please' probably would have softened the request."
Interject good manners on their behalf. For example, say "excuse us" if the unmannerly person bumps into someone. Or if he or she fails to thank someone , say "thank you," yourself. This is not as subtle as some methods, but may make a bigger impact.
Ask the unmannerly individual for help. A good way to help someone think about proper manners is by seeking their input on etiquette. Ask for their advice regarding manners in a particular social situation or other scenario as if you are unsure of what to do. Then steer the conversation, if neccessary, to arrive at the most mannerly solution.
Offer other resources. This acts as a followup to Step 5. For example, find a book, website, or other resource that addresses the scenario in Step 5 and that also provides input on additional manners and rules of etiquette. Present this resource to the person as if you have found the answer to the previous dilemma. Hopefully, they will continue to use this resource to further their use of good manners.
When approaching the subject of good manners, be careful not to offend the individual whose manners are lacking. Never embarrass someone about their manners in front of other people.
Teresa R. Simpson is a writer from Memphis, Tennessee. She attended The University of Memphis where she took journalism and creative writing courses. She writes on a wide variety of subjects but her favorite topic is parenting. She is the author of two books, The Everything Baby Sign Language Book and Memphis Murder and Mayhem.