Oftentimes the terms ‘morals’ and ‘manners’ are used interchangeably, however they are different. Morals are personally set principles and beliefs concerning right and wrong and manners are the way society expects us to behave. But which one is more important? Gulf News readers debate

Varying approach: Different situations require specific approaches

From Mr Rayed Jawad, Student of managerial economics based in Dubai

I believe, manners are the step towards morality. Morals are entrenched within a person. On the other hand, manners of an individual person are strongly related to their upbringing and the environment in which they have grown up in.

I am fortunate to have been to places and interact with people from different races and backgrounds since childhood thus my way of exhibiting my morality might just be an impolite gesture to some, so it all depends on a person’s circumstance.

Both notions are however, quite importantly I have different approaches for various situations. Some issues that are of more of a serious nature and someone could get affected by it, I look into what my morals would allow. On the other hand, whereas if the situation is simpler, such as pitching a business plan, meeting a relative or on a date with your partner, your manners need to be on display.

Equally important: “Good manners are the first step to good morals”

From Ms Mehak Ayaz, Civil engineer based in Dubai

Manners can be thought of as the little rule book that every individual in a society must follow for it to function smoothly. Good manners automatically dictate that your actions will not hurt somebody physically or emotionally. On the other hand, morality is a multi-dimensional notion and every individual on this planet can come up with their own definition.

People will usually not have conflicts on what lies in the black and white areas but it is in the grey zones where differences arise.

The sense of what is right and wrong and the overall idea of morality changes greatly with respect to time, changes in circumstances and the personal experiences an individual has. Unlike manners, there can be no set rule book for morality because it differs from culture to culture. Siblings raised by the same parents will most likely follow the same code of conduct when it comes to behaviour but can still end up having entirely different notions on what is morally right to each one of them on a personal basis.

On most occasions, people form an opinion about others based on their manners because it is a parameter that is easily observable and measurable whereas morality can be concealed and is something within a person that varies constantly. Personally I believe that good manners are the first step to developing good morals. Manners and morals are different stages in the journey to becoming the best version of yourself. They might be connected to each other but it is extremely important to be able to distinguish between them.

Be ethical: One’s moral compass is most important

From Ms Aqsa Adil, Law student based in Sharjah

Manners and morals may be interchangeable but for me, morals come before manners. I believe that if someone has morals and values that they strongly adhere to then their good conduct will surely follow. However, just because someone has good manners doesn’t necessarily mean that they are always morally correct.

Currently, morality has taken a back seat. But for me, my moral compass is always my guiding light. People think they are good humans if they behave in a certain way, adhering to societal norms. However, those same people fail to take a stand or act in a way that is morally correct but goes against established norms and the results don’t favour them.

As a law student, I understand that the lines between right and wrong can get blurry, but as humans we have the responsibility to act in an ethical way with all individuals regardless of their social standing or any other characteristic. As clichéd as it may sound, I have come to a point in my life where I know that it is certainly important to stand up for what you believe in even when the whole world is against it. I had that sort of instinct even while growing up and it has only gotten stronger over the years. I don’t shy away from speaking my mind and standing up for what is right. Just having good etiquette that pleases those around you is not enough. We must go the extra mile of advocating for what is ethically right and in line with your moral compass.

Behave well: To be a part of civil society, one must exhibit good manners

From Mr Samuel Ravichandran, Student of aviation management and aircraft dispatch based in Dubai

In my opinion, manners are more important when compared to morals. Morals are the core values that drive what we believe is good or bad. For example, choosing to be honest when it would be easier to tell a lie. However, manners equip us with the tools we need to survive in a social society. They guide us when forming friendships and climbing the social ladder.

With that being said, not all manners are good. Poor manners could severely damage our relationships with others. On the other hand, good manners promote healthy relationships. A person holding a door open for an old woman, shows good manners, which in turn reveals our morals to the person.

I believe manners are the tool with which we reveal our morals to others. This is because both manners and morals influence each other. If a person is to have good morals and bad manners, they will be labeled as a ‘bad’ person; even though they are not. However, a person with bad morals and good manners, can be labeled as ‘good’.

A person’s surroundings shape their beliefs, and how they treat others; so our morals may tell us to do something that might offend someone else, but our manners will prevent that action. If we were to offer a warm meal to a person in need, it shows our morals. Treating them with respect shows our manners. However, if we were to offer them food, and treat them poorly, it will damage their outlook on us.

Poll results

Gulf News asked: What’s more important to you?
Manners: 13%
Morals: 10%
They are both interrelated: 77%

Have your say

Should one, at all times have good etiquette?
If everyone started acting destructively due to their personal moral standards, what would it result in?
Is standing by your morals always the superior choice?
To share your views on this topic or join future debates, write to us at readers@gulfnews.com