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Michelle Turnberg, Published April 28 2012

Turnberg: Manners can make the difference

I have learned many meaningful lessons through the years, from my parents and through personal experience. I can think of few that are as important as developing sound manners.

I have done my best to try to instill manners in my own children since about the time they could speak. The basics, of course, like “please,” “thank you,” “you’re welcome,” and “excuse me” are small words that make a big impact. Manners are important, because people tend to remember for years how you treated them.

As I grew up and made my way through school, I held several jobs, including stints as a server at restaurants in both Fargo and near Detroit Lakes. I had several opportunities to wait on the “who’s who” of Fargo-Moorhead, the movers and the shakers of our community. Some of them held important jobs; some were local celebrities and successful businessmen and women. Some were gems, while some were not so flattering.

To this day I can remember those who were rude and inconsiderate, and, naturally, I remember those who didn’t bother to leave me a tip. Some of them are still big wigs in the community, and I have had interactions with many that have stuck with me.

While I waited tables in college I shared a house with six others girls. We lived in a Moorhead neighborhood that included “college houses” that were falling apart, but also lovely family homes. Our dilapidated house sat next to a very nice home.

My roommates and I always greeted our neighbor and tried to be respectful of his property. If we had friends over Friday night we made sure his lawn was not littered with plastic cups Saturday morning. We tried to respect his space and keep the noise down, we kept our vehicles off his property, and in general we did our best to be good neighbors.

Several years later I was hired at KXJB-TV as the 6 and 10 anchor. My producer turned out to be my neighbor from my college years. He also turned out to be one of the best newsmen with which I have ever worked. I was always glad we were good to him, as he became a vital part of my day, and his efforts were imperative to delivering a good show.

It’s a lesson that’s always stuck with me. Be kind to everyone, including the server taking your order at lunch, or the neighbor you don’t really know.

Because, as Maya Angelou once said, “People may forget what you said but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.”

Michelle Turnberg writes a weekly column for SheSays.