How to Have Good Southern Manners

by braniac

If you're not from the U.S. South, you may wonder why we southerners behave the way we do toward one another in terms of manners. Having proper manners in our everyday actions is a way of life in the South. They stem from our famed southern hospitality. Manners matter in Dixie. Good manners make life more pleasant for everyone, and you can never take them too seriously in the South. Having bad manners will cause other southerners to question your upbringing. So, if you want to know more about southern culture, are planning a trip to or within the South, are planning to move to the South, or are from the South and need to brush up on your manners, then this article is here to help. Remember that good manners are not reserved for special occasions. They are something you do every place and every day, and our friendships and relationships are based on how we treat others on a daily basis.

Above all, say "please" and "thank you". Always saw please whenever making any sort of request. You may further express thanks by saying something like "Thank you very much, I really appreciate it." If you don't get what you want, say something like "well, thank you anyway." You should also use "May I," "You're Welcome," "Excuse Me," and "Pardon Me."

Also say "yes sir" or "no sir" and "yes ma'am" or "no ma'am" at all appropriate times. If you don't use these you may be viewed as arrogant or disrespectful, or uppity.

Several fundamental tenets of southern manners: -Be humble - Always put others first and yourself last ("after you..."). This is rooted in Bible Belt theology. Acting uppity, selfish, or self-centered are certainly not good manners. -Be courteous - This stems from the Golden Rule ("Do unto others as you would have them do unto you). -Behave yourself - When in public, don't be rude, brash, loud, uncouth, coarse, or cause a commotion. If you do act that way people may think you weren't raised properly and don't know better. -Be friendly - Act this way towards everyone whether you know them or not. -Be modest - this is similar to being humble. In other words, don't brag on yourself.

Here are some other tips (but this is not an exhaustive list of course): -Always ask for something, but never demand it. -Refer to females as "Ladies". -Chivalry of all forms is well appreciated throughout the South. -Hold doors open for others. -If you're a male, walk on the street side of a sidewalk when accompanying a lady. -Men stand when a lady enters the room. -Remove your hat, if you're a male, when entering a building. A hat should also be removed (by men) during the national anthem, the raising of the flag, funeral processions, and prayer. -When at fault, own up to it and say you're sorry. -Say "pardon me" or "excuse me" when having to walk in front of someone or if you bump into someone. -Err on the side of being too nice. -Know proper table manners and always use them. -Make eye contact with people and say "hi, how are you" or an appropriate greeting to them depending on the time of day ("good morning", "good afternoon", etc.). -Conduct small talk with others whether you know them or not (particularly in stores and restaurants, etc.). -Respect elders -Be gracious and extend hospitality whenever possible. Offer guests in your home food and drink. -Don't interrupt. -Shake hands with a firm grip. -Don't be in a rush and impatient all the time. Things move at a different pace in the South. -Keep your word. -Stand by your family. -If someone has had surgery, a new baby or a death in the family, organize the neighbors to all take turns fixing dinner for the affected family. -Welcome new neighbors.

Tip

  • Remember the Golden Rule!