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Manners count

india Updated: Oct 27, 2006 12:06 IST
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“Being gracious in life will carry you far,” Ted Kooser, a well-known American poet once told a gathering of young students at their graduation ceremony.

The poet reportedly told the graduates that when they left the university with diploma in hand they needed only one other thing to enter the world — a box of blank thank you notes.

He asked these young achievers to heed his one bit of advice as they began their new lives. Yes, they needed thank you notes to acknowledge their graduation gifts, but more than that, they would need thank you notes throughout their journey of lifelong learning.

How many times in our lives have we taken people, their time, our parents, family, friends, colleagues, a favour, good things of life and often life itself for granted? Almost always, if one is honest enough to admit.

And how many times have we gone out of the way to show our appreciation or return a favour? Not too many times, if one is honest again.

Forget about returning a favour, I’ve personally lost count of the occasions when even a simple “thank you” was not forthcoming, resulting in me not just being disaffected but also a little wary of extending a helping hand.

Remember, if there’s one thing people resent, it’s the feeling that they’re being taken for granted. It is also the surest way of alienating them. Everyone wants to feel appreciated.

When we omit to say “thank you,” we are in a way telling people that they don’t really matter. By the same token, showing one’s appreciation is not only a matter of expressing good manners but also a means to opening doors to greater opportunities and reaping many rewards.

And it is not just about favours, a good turn or a helping hand. It is also about returning calls, meeting deadlines and about respecting people’s time and space.

Which brings me to a very interesting Bollywood gossip I read a couple of days ago. We’ve all heard about what a stickler for time and punctuality the Bachchan khandaan is. Recently the Bachchans hosted a special dinner for Aishwarya Rai at their residence.

The hosts waited well past the appointed hour when Ash breezed in, apologising profusely. Imagine her shock when Jaya Bachchan very sternly told her off saying that the least she could’ve done was to have informed them that she would be late. Needless to say the dinner was conducted in very strained circumstances.

The lesson: If you are unable to make it on time or are caught up with something else, call to inform and apologise. This is a way to let the other person know that you respect not just them but their time too.

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