How To Teach Good Manners to Adults

It is an established fact that one cannot equate maturity with age. Even adults have their temporary lapses in good manners and right judgment when it comes to one’s action. However, unlike children, it is often a difficult and awkward task to correct an adult about his less than pleasing attitude and manners.

Here are some tips and steps you can apply in teaching good manners to adults:

  1. The objective you should have is to be able to correct an adult without embarrassing him. You should get your point across without seriously injuring his pride. In any situation, avoid voicing out your concern when there are other people around. Also make sure to choose words that are not offending. Be sensitive to culture difference, as what is disrespectful for you may not be for his culture.
  2. Be able to lead by example. The best teacher leads and teaches by example. You have to be well-mannered for the person to recognize (or remember) the correct act that he should be following. Sometimes, all he needs is a wake-up call or a reminder. Hearing a “thank you” would remind him that he too, has to express his gratitude.
  3. Set the particular adult aside and talk directly about how he acted. But be careful in choosing your words. You may act like a mirror and tell him what you thought you saw. Say things like “I’m sure you don’t mean to make it look that way BUT...”  
  4. Sometimes, you might get your message across by using an indirect approach. To avoid an awkward confrontation, you might benefit from using other people, preferably children in correcting a particular manner. For example, teaching a child within hearing range of a person will alert him of his own. There are no confrontations made, but you are sure that your target person hears concern about that particular manner. Another indirect approach is by using reverse psychology to the ill-mannered person. You can do this by acting out what he himself should have done. This is a common and often taken for granted practice. Others may mistake it for sarcasm but it will all depend on your delivery. For example, when a person bumps into you and fails to say sorry, tell the word “sorry” yourself.
  5. Make use of special occasions as avenues for teaching. There are numerous adult manner guides on print that could be given as gifts. It is personal and can be given secretively without offending or embarrassing the person.
  6. Be ready to praise a good act. Not all ill-mannered people are ill-mannered all the time. Be ready to recognize a kind and respectful deed done and praise or take notice. An increase in self-esteem may lead them to do more.

Unlike children, adults do have their established pride, and you don’t want to create a sore spot out of reminding them of their long-delayed manners. It a relief that there is something you can do without fear of embarrassing the adult.


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