National Good Manners Day USA Speech
Good afternoon everybody, and thank you so much for coming today. My name is Lisa Gaché, and I am the co-founder of Beverly Hills Manners™. Before I tell you more about what I do and why we are all here today, I’d like to acknowledge a few people without whom this event could never succeed. First and foremost, I’d like to thank the Brentwood Country Mart for allowing us to hold our special event in their cozy courtyard. And of course, a very big thank you to my fabulous and gracious co-hosts, Jenny Belushi and Heather Whitney Ashforth, of the Poppy Store for making this wonderful event happen. And, I’d especially like to thank our terrific sponsors and contributors: American Girl Place, Got Kids LA!, Logan & Blue, McCormick & Schmick’s Beverly Hills, Gwendolyn & The Goodtime Gang, Helpthehomelessmitzvah.com, NUI Water, Team Tutors and Nickelodeon for all their generous support and contributions.
So to kick off the fun, let me begin by wishing you all a very happy National Good Manners Day USA! This is the first year we’re celebrating this new holiday, and we hope and intend for it to become an annual event that is recognized all over the country.
I decided to declare National Good Manners Day USA for a good reason: we need it badly. The idea was to honor the children in our inaugural celebration because in my opinion good manners begin with the children. Raising two daughters of my own in a society where it’s cool to be rude, okay to be offensive and awesome to be impolite, made me especially nervous of the job I had ahead of me as a parent. I felt that it was time to take notice and do something about it.
This was the impetus for creating Beverly Hills Manners™: to find a way to remove the stigma from the old, uptight image of manners and bring manners back with a new and more modern approach that was more befitting of today’s world. In all of our classes and in our curriculum we strive to provide a greater understanding of just what manners are for, and how they’re relevant in our daily lives.
We like to think of manners as some sort of inner GPS, a navigation system guiding us in the right direction and helping us to do the right thing. Because that’s what manners are really all about: doing the right thing. Manners are dynamic, they’re ever-changing, and they’re very personal, and they exist simply to help us be more mindful of ourselves and of others. Allow me to share with you a few quick examples of how every single one of us, children and adults alike, can make a difference and make the coming year, a year of good manners.
Let’s begin with smiling! I bet you are thinking to yourselves, smiling, what does that have to do with manners? Believe it or not, smiling is actually good manners! A smile is welcoming and makes us approachable. It is the single most universal expression of happiness and it’s recognized by all cultures. When we smile, we release a natural chemical in our bodies called endorphins and that makes us feel better. So even when we're having a bad day, just putting on a smile can lead to feeling happier. Smiling is contagious and helps us maintain a positive attitude.
Now a smile is only one way in which the body can help us mind our manners. Another way is through our poise and our posture. When we slouch, when we let our shoulders droop or our arms dangle or our head drop, we’re sending a message to anyone who comes into contact with us that we don’t really care, or at least that we don’t care enough to make an effort to stand up straight and look someone in the eye. This is no trivial point: every scientific survey imaginable has proved that first impressions have a major impact on our opinion of others and this extends to every facet of our lives from making new friends, to finding a mate and getting a job. At Beverly Hills Manners™, we pay particular attention to making positive first impressions and to the importance of poise and posture on that first meeting. On our website, we offer a number of classes on the subject. When you’re at home sometime this weekend, take a moment and stand in front of the mirror and imagine yourself as the next President of the United States. Notice the way in which you carry yourself and how that can affect your confidence level and self-esteem. The next two examples of good manners are fundamental and have less to do with how we look and more to do with how we act.
The first is respect: this is a no-brainer. If you want to garner someone’s respect, just listen when other people talk, consider their opinions, and express your own in a polite and calm way. In other words, take a second to think before you talk, and take two to think before you act. That’s all there is to it! The second is being thoughtful which is a lot harder. Luckily, we have the “Golden Rule” to help us along which reminds us to “treat others the way we would want to be treated”. So before you say or do anything, just take a moment and reflect on how you’d feel if the same thing was said or done to you. Taking other people’s feelings into consideration is not only the wellmannered thing to do, it’s also really smart. When you’re thoughtful, people are impressed, and they tend to be thoughtful in response. As a result, there’s more understanding, more good-will and less problems all-around. And isn’t that what we all want?
Finally, having good manners does not mean you have to be perfect! Instead, strive to make good manners second nature. They should be as common and familiar as getting a drink of water. With practice, your manners will become natural, spontaneous and even fun! So if I could sum up everything into one word, I would choose the word: Aware. Be aware of yourself, of the way you smile and walk and stand, of how you talk and how you do the things you do. And be aware of others, of what they want and what they expect of you and of themselves, of what makes them sad and what makes them happy. If you do that, you’ll be well-mannered and successful.
Now this may sound groundbreaking, but being well-mannered and successful truly go hand-in-hand. I believe there is a deep correlation between good manners and success. Especially now, when technology is making the world such a small place and is bringing together different people from different cultures. Paying careful attention to our demeanor and how we interact with others makes a world of a difference (no pun intended). If we have any hope of becoming successful, we need to be not only well-educated, but also wellmannered, so that we are able to put others at ease, make a good impression and gain confidence and support.
This is very much a personal quest for each and every single one of us, but we shouldn’t go at it alone. We need to make good manners a national priority, so that we can make our society, our culture, our politics and our life as a nation more polite and more pleasant. This is what National Good Manners Day USA is all about, and I hope you will join me in this movement to Bring Manners Back!