The whole thing reminded me of a time when I was in my early 20s and someone was giving me a compliment. I had started to dismiss what she was saying — the whole “It wasn’t that big a deal” spiel — when she interrupted me. “The polite thing to do when someone gives you a compliment,” she informed me firmly, “is to say thank you.” And so I did. Ever since then, I’ve tried to remember that. It’s made me just a little less inept in social situations.
I’ve thought of those experiences recently, thinking about my children and how they don’t seem to have been born with an innate sense of manners. There’s a lot about being polite that they just don’t seem to know. And then I thought: Well how would they know, if someone doesn’t tell them? Here, then, is a set of 10 easy rules of everyday politeness, taken from my experience, observations of my children, and Various Other Random Sources.