Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Attitudes and Manners: Discussion 5 — Public Performance

Attitudes and Manners: Discussion 5 — Public Performance

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 09, 2011

Discussion 5 – Public Performance

For Tuesday, February 13, 1962

Objective: To remind that anonymity is no excuse for poor behavior, and that a true test of one’s character is evidenced in one’s treatment of public servants and property.

Our public performance should be as inconspicuous as possible. Above all else, we should avoid doing those things which will draw attention to ourselves, branding us as conceited – desirous of impressing others at any price – or as thoughtless and uninformed. Soft pedaling “self” in public is a mark of courtesy, because such action is prompted by our first concern being for others.

This applies to our manner of dress and speaking and reacting to the forms of familiar etiquette in public. We should curb a loud voice, hilarious laughter, blocking doorways or sidewalks, discussing questionable or controversial matters, mentioning names or giving clues to identity, talking across anyone, or creating any kind of a scene. Speaking of one’s personal problems, secret hopes, and private opinions in public, or within earshot of others, is extremely poor taste. By the same token, to discuss the affairs of another in a casual manner is almost unforgivable, since the person being discussed isn’t even present to defend herself. One is never sure who might be listening, upon whose toes one might be mercilessly treading when gossip, or even truth, is bantered about publicly.

Even in the more “intimate public” of our familiar neighborhoods, it is distasteful to have to see someone appearing in improper clothing (night clothes, sun clothes, untidy clothes) on the street side of her home. Calling names aloud is objectionable, also. It might be suggested that a whistle or bell or other impersonal means could be used as a signal for children to return home. If one wishes to converse with a neighbor across the way, one should walk over to speak to her rather than shout.

Putting others before self is the basis for good human relationships and, therefore, for personal happiness. To do the opposite builds antagonisms, misunderstandings, and fosters lack of respect.

Any behavior which involves others against their choice should be avoided. Conspicuous greetings or farewells or other displays of emotion, including anger or passion, should not be foisted on the public. if you bump into someone or cause an unintentional mishap, apologize and help as much as you can to make restitution. If you want fresh air in a car or bus, ask those riding near you if it is agreeable to them for you to open the window.

An old axiom is, that in all one’s relationships with those who are employed to give personal service, one must be more polite, more considerate, more careful than with others. This would include waitresses, clerks, beauty operators, household help, paper boys, teachers, professional people, officers of the law, and other public officials. One is courteous if one shows politeness and patience when being served. If you are doing the serving in any way, the same reciprocal care should be given those upon whom you wait. one who serves well and willingly is most loved among men.

Your Character Is Showing

Thoughtless littering, abuse or careless misuse of public property are reprehensible. Observing most public places proves that there is definite need for improvement in appreciation and public behavior. As a people who profess to follow the ways of righteousness and considerate living, let us hope we aren’t among the guilty in this respect!

Manners in public often require greater self-discipline than elsewhere, but this is a small price to pay for civilization, decency, and decorum. One doesn’t push or step ahead of one’s place in forming a queue for tickets, or for a table in a restaurant, or any service. One doesn’t take unfair advantage of situations such as at a department store sale, a sample give-away counter at fairs, exhibits, or grocery stores. To an objective viewer, the grab and scramble for seats on public transportation vehicles may seem like a contest for the survival of the fittest. It is interesting to note how contagious a little quiet consideration is, however. A pleasant word to a grumpy bus driver, offering one’s seat to an older or more heavily laden woman, allowing someone with fewer items to pass through the check stand first, are most appreciated actions.

Courtesy plays an important part in the safe driving of automobiles. Consequently, anything we can do as women to further more considerate driving among ourselves or our children, will be a worthy effort, indeed. Procedures of proper etiquette are like traffic semaphores – without them we collide with one another’s feelings.

Questions for Discussion

1. Give examples of humble, sincere service inspiring respect and love.
2. Is courtesy contagious?
3. On the whole, do we see more examples of courtesy or carelessness?
4. How do religious ideals influence our public behavior?



  1. anonymity is no excuse for poor behavior

    I think that is a lovely sentiment, and one that more people should strive to observe.

    Comment by HokieKate — June 9, 2011 @ 10:09 am

  2. To an objective viewer, the grab and scramble for seats on public transportation vehicles may seem like a contest for the survival of the fittest.

    Unless you are flying Southwest Airlines, and may not actually find a seat, or space in an overhead bin, if you end up in the B or C boarding queues. Just saying…

    Overall, though, in the age of cell phones with bluetooth earpieces, and the supposed anonymity of the internet, this is still good advice. I especially like the idea that wait staff at restaurants, sales clerks, and others paid to face the public are worthy of respect. We find ourselves caught in a culture of incivility far too often, and we should not contribute to the problem.

    And my special pet peeve: If you go to a movie, is it too much to ask that you just keep your mouth shut once the movie starts?

    Comment by kevinf — June 9, 2011 @ 12:12 pm

Leave a comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.
TrackBack URI