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(MCT)—Did you know that most tension in any relationship is caused by someone using a negative tone of voice?

Just try talking abrasively to your dog. He will get the message rather quickly.

People are no different than animals in this regard. We all know that gruff words can end a friendship. And in most instances, a tense conversation can cause friction with your in-laws or co-workers indefinitely.

Good manners work magic in a different way. Behaving nicely includes speaking thoughtfully and using a pleasing voice tone that denotes respect.

Married people, especially, know how hurtful behavior erodes a relationship. We all stay on our toes during the honeymoon phase, but later, many of us will resort to growling or demanding to get what we want.

For example, can you identify with the following conversation?

“Honey, I need you to pick up the kids from school today,” says Mom.

“No way, I told you I’m staying late at work all week,” Dad retorts. “The boss is breathing down my neck. What do you expect me to do — clone myself?”

Using manners would ratchet up this conversation to a different level of respect, if it went something along these lines:

“Honey, I need you to pick up the kids from school today,” says Mom.

“I would like to,” Dad assures her. “But I have to stay late at work this week.”

Your underlying intent behind this kind of conversation tells the other person how much kindness you’re willing to deliver.

Good manners are the lubricant of life—making you more desirable in circles that include people of power.

If you have poor manners that include snide remarks and judging others harshly, you may get passed over for promotions at work.

It’s likely, also, that you’ll be excluded at times from social events for those who are movers and shakers in your community. No one is going to invite you along to an event whereby your behavior becomes an embarrassment to the one who invited you.

“I have a friend visiting me from the Southwest,” says an attorney we’ll call James. “He puts his foot in his mouth 10 times a day.”

James told us he ignored the facts and invited Mr. Big Mouth along to a wedding a couple of days ago.

“I was mortified when he asked the second-time bride if her last wedding was as lavish as this one!” James told us.

“People with poor manners are becoming more prevalent in our society,” says James, “and they’ll pay the price by getting ostracized from polite circles.”

It pays to practice excellent manners within your own family on a daily basis. Otherwise, you’ll swing back and forth between smooth manners and your casual self. You’ll get tripped up at the worst possible time.

Judi Hopson and Emma Hopson are authors of a stress management book for paramedics, firefighters and police, “Burnout to Balance: EMS Stress.” Ted Hagen is a family psychologist.

© 2012, Judi Light Hopson, Emma H. Hopson and Ted Hagen

Distributed by MCT Information Services