The Simple Sign Someone Has Good Manners That Has Nothing To Do With Etiquette

Good manners aren't just about being polite.

women eating dinner Adrienn / Pexels 

A man named Julian de Medeiros has built a TikTok following based on breaking down the meaning behind quotes from various classical authors and philosophers.

He makes heady intellectual ideas accessible to people on the social media platform, sharing what he sees as resonant phrases from deep thinkers.

The philosopher shared the simple sign of having good manners that has nothing to do with etiquette.

He referenced a quote from Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, saying, “Good manners isn’t about never spilling on the tablecloth; instead, good manners is about pretending not to notice when other people do.” 


The original quote from Chekhov is worded slightly differently: “A good upbringing means not that you won’t spill sauce on the tablecloth, but that you won’t notice it when someone else does.”



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Yet the sentiment remains the same: having good manners isn’t about being perfect, but "about conducting yourself with grace when confronted with other people’s imperfections."

Having empathy and displaying kindness towards other people's mistakes is really what it means to be well-mannered.

As de Medeiros noted, a person shouldn’t hold themselves as superior over others because of their sense of etiquette. He shared that “being rude is simply the weak man’s idea of strength.”

simple sign someone has good manners that has nothing to do with etiquettePhoto: Monstera Production / Pexels 


In some ways, it’s easier to be cruel than to be kind. True kindness takes self-reflection. It requires a person to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and imagine the world from a different perspective, which isn’t an act that necessarily comes naturally.  

Yet in keeping with de Medeiros’ interpretation of Chekhov’s thought process, “To be well mannered is to be compassionate and understanding when confronted with other people’s imperfections.”

In a letter Chekhov wrote to his brother, Nikolay Chekhov, in March 1886, he offered examples of other traits of kind and "civilized" people, including being respectful and honest. He also shared his belief that civilized people "respect human beings as individuals and are therefore always tolerant, gentle, courteous and amenable."

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Chekhov emphasized common kindness and empathy as a marker of someone with good manners. According to this mindset, having good manners has nothing to do with knowing which fork to use at a fancy dinner table. Rather, it has to do with not calling someone out if they use the wrong fork, and welcoming others for exactly who they are.

simple sign someone has good manners that has nothing to do with etiquettePhoto: PNW Production / Pexels 

Being well-mannered is about maintaining a modicum of kindness. Chekhov emphasized the importance of having compassion for all people, not just the people most in need of it, for we never know what someone else is going through.


The value of extending empathy to everyone can't really be overstated. Cultivating a practice of generosity and understanding allows us to feel grounded in who we are, and it also allows us to value people for who they are, not who we expect them to be.



Having good manners isn't about being perfect at all times. It’s about recognizing that no one is perfect, and giving people grace when they make mistakes. The reality is that everyone messes up, despite our best intentions, and making someone feel comfortable in making mistakes is a sign of being kind to the core, and extending that kindness to other people.   

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers social issues, pop culture analysis, and all things to do with the entertainment industry.