30 Quotes That Remind Us Why Southern Manners Are So Important

There are three things Southerners take very seriously: fried food, college football, and good manners.

There are three things Southerners take very seriously: fried food, college football, and good manners. Southern babies are basically born writing thank-you notes, and they grow up understanding the importance of proper etiquette in every situation. After all, when out-of-towners visit, they are welcomed with an unmistakable feeling of Southern hospitality that is certainly no accident. Hostess gifts, holding the door open for the person behind you, and the distinctive "yes ma'am" and "no ma'am" as a sign of respect saturate the South, and these friendly qualities keep people coming back for more. Whether you're looking for an insightful statement or a humorous quote, a lot has been said on the topic of good manners and proper etiquette. It's never too late to refresh your memory on a few Southern values or to learn something new. Check out some of our favorite declarations about the significance of politeness.

Good Manners Help You Go Places

You know that saying about catching more flies with honey than with vinegar? A little sweetness can certainly pay off in life. These notable figures had something to say about reaping the rewards of good manners.

  • "Friends and good manners will carry you where money won't go." ⁠—Margaret Walker
  • "Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot." ⁠—Clarence Thomas
  • "Being considerate of others will take your children further in life than any college degree." ―Marian Wright Edelman
  • "Politeness and consideration for others is like investing pennies and getting dollars back." ⁠—Thomas Sowell
  • "Politeness is like an air-cushion—there may be nothing in it, but it wonderfully eases the joltings along the rough road of life." ⁠—H.W. Beecher

Manners Are a Sign of Respect

Minding your manners isn't just about making mama proud. Politeness is another way to show kindness and consideration to others, according to these prominent people.

  • "Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use." ⁠—Emily Post
  • "Good manners are just a way of showing other people that we have respect for them." ⁠—Bill Kelly
  • "When you know you can do something, and you feel good about yourself, you do not have to devalue others." ⁠—John Patrick Hickey
  • "To learn etiquette, is actually learning how to see others, and respect them." ⁠—Yixing Zhang
  • "Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners." ⁠—Laurence Sterne
  • "Politeness [is] a sign of dignity, not subservience." ―Theodore Roosevelt

Rudeness Costs More Than Kindness

When choosing your words, remember that even a well-deserved tongue lashing comes at a cost. You just might regret what you said, and there are no takebacks. Read these quotes on rising above the fray, even when others aren't on their best behavior.

  • "Whoever one is, and wherever one is, one is always in the wrong if one is rude." ⁠—Maurice Baring
  • "Good manners sometimes means simply putting up with other people's bad manners." ⁠—H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
  • "Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength." ⁠—Eric Hoffer
  • "Honesty in social life is often used as a cover for rudeness. But there is quite a difference between being candid in what you're talking about and people voicing their insulting opinions under the name of honesty." ⁠—Judity Martin
  • "Speak with caution. Even if someone forgives harsh words you've spoken, they may be too hurt to ever forget them. Don't leave a legacy of pain and regret of things you never should have said." ⁠—Germany Kent
  • "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." ⁠—Maya Angelou
  • "Life is not so short but that there is always time enough for courtesy." —Ralph Waldo Emerson

On Times It's Best to Keep Quiet

There are times it's best to pause and consider before opening your mouth. These noteworthy names had a few thoughts on when to call a timeout.

  • "Politeness is the art of choosing among one's real thoughts." ⁠—Abel Stevens
  • "Wisdom tells us that the best time for silence is when we are mad or upset." ⁠—John Patrick Hickey
  • "Politeness is half good manners and half good lying." ⁠—Mary Wilson Little
  • "The greater the controversy, the more you need manners." ⁠—Judith Martin
  • "To disagree, one doesn't have to be disagreeable." ⁠—Barry M. Goldwater
  • "If you happen to displease any of them, be always ready to make a frank apology. But the best way is to act with so much politeness, good manners, and circumspection, as never to have occasion to make any apology." —Alexander Hamilton
  • "The line between the public life and the private life has been erased, due to the rapid decline of manners and courtesy. There is a certain crudeness and crassness that has suddenly become accepted behavior, even desirable." ―Fannie Flagg

On the Nature of Etiquette

We all know good manners when we see it, but what is it really all about? These people penned a few thoughts on the meaning of good etiquette.

  • "Let's not confuse traditional behaviours with good manners. The definition of etiquette is gender neutral⁠—it simply means we strive at all times to ensure a person in our company feels at ease." ⁠—Lynn Coady
  • "Manners are the ability to put someone else at their ease...by turning any answer into another question." ⁠—Tina Brown
  • "Consideration is the basis of etiquette, and it starts at home. If you can't show consideration to your spouse, child, or family member any consideration you show outside is shallow and a farce." ⁠—Chinha Raheja
  • "Etiquette means behaving yourself a little better than is absolutely essential." ⁠—Will Cuppy
  • "As is the case with all good things in life⁠—love, good manners, language, cooking⁠—personal creativity is required only rarely." ⁠—Leon Krier
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