The blame for the demise of good manners is often (conveniently) placed firmly and squarely, front and centre on electronic devices. Because of students’ constant heads-down focus on their electronic devices, it’s often hard for them to learn to interact appropriately with other people. They are more comfortable texting or sending an e-mail to communicate than offering a firm handshake or a warm smile. To prepare students for interviews and the modern workplace, not to mention their personal relationships, they need to be taught the skills of interacting with others. We all play a vital role.
An acronym for this is S.P.E.C.I.A.L. (Adam Dovico in Phi Delta Kappan, November 2016)
- Shake hands – a firm, appropriate grip
- Posture – standing up straight, shoulders back, conveying confidence and awareness;
- Eye contact – looking the other person in the eye during the entire interaction;
- Charm –a smile, head nod, laugh;
- Introduce yourself – saying, “Hi, I’m ----” gets the ball rolling;
- Ask a question – “What brings you here?” or “Don’t you hate this weather?” begins a conversation and shows interest in the other person;
- Lean in and listen – without invading the person’s space, getting a little closer signals engagement and helps you listen and respond appropriately.
These elements make a young person/adult come across as confident and professional. They need practice, so they become natural. It’s good to start at an early age teaching children to introduce themselves, start a conversation, look people in the eye and answer politely. By senior school, students should be able to start a good conversation with a stranger and mingle in a crowd.
How can adults help, parents, and teachers? These strategies can be applied at home and other social situations outside of the home.
- Greet children every morning by name and expect them to do the same to you.
- Shake their hands, so they learn how to do it naturally.
- Expect your children to stand up and greet visitors and look after their comfort by offering a seat or refreshments.
- Insist on polite interactions at the meal table and in family groups.
- Use literature, current events, and TV programmes to encourage children to develop genuine curiosity about other people and what makes them tick.
Reference - www.principalsdigests.co.nz. Newsletter, Volume 23, Number 4