Choir Notes

The Root of Good Manners
From Music and the Spoken Word
Delivered By: Lloyd D. Newell

Actor John Rhys-Davies sometimes speaks to young people about overcoming shyness. He says that it is quite natural to feel shy, to be uncomfortable in a room of strangers. His advice? “Turn it the other way around and think, ‘I’m walking into a room full of very shy people, and my job is to make them feel at ease and comfortable in their situation.’ That is really the root of good manners: making the people around you feel comfortable."

Some people are so skilled at making others feel comfortable. They’re genuinely interested in others; they’re kind and thoughtful; they’re easy to be around. Instead of focusing on themselves, they choose to be considerate and responsive, and they seem to take sincere joy in making people happy.

It’s easy to assume that some people are just naturally outgoing—that it comes easily to them—and the rest of us simply aren’t that way. But the fact is that with a little effort and practice, anyone can choose to be open, loving, and warm. That might mean we attentively listen, or we think, “What can I learn from this person?” For others, it might mean we speak up a little more or make the effort to meet someone new.

No matter whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, you can learn to put others at ease. A young woman who left friends and family to attend college discovered this simple truth. When she began to extend herself, she found that more often than not, people welcomed her outreach. They, too, wanted a friend. They began to feel comfortable around her, and she made new friends wherever she went. She found that by making simple introductions and finding out about others, she could help people relax in her company and enjoy being around her.

The skill of good manners is not beyond anyone’s reach—at its roots, it’s simply a matter of forgetting ourselves and helping others feel comfortable.

1 In R. Scott Lloyd, “British Actor John Rhys-Davies ‘Flies’ during Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert,” Deseret News, Dec. 14, 2013, B6.

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