Around the world, Latter-day Saint missionaries spend their days interacting with others as they teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Because missionaries are meant to represent the entire church in a positive way, it is important they know some basic manner and etiquette rules. We’ve gathered ten specifically that we think are some of the most necessary for missionary work.
No Means No
Rejection is painful and difficult. This is especially true when something so sacred to us (the gospel) is being turned away. Sometimes, missionaries want to keep pressing, keep trying, even after someone has said no.
It is important to respect the decisions of others and walk away when asked. If someone has asked you not to come back or to leave them alone, honor that request. Even on a first contact, be polite if someone doesn’t want to listen to your message.
Do Not Interrupt
To connect, people need to feel heard and valued. Interrupting someone is a sure way to see this doesn’t happen. It is exciting to teach and we may feel we are bubbling up with answers or comebacks. Refraining, actively listening, and then responding will help understand people’s needs and gain their sincere trust.
Mealtimes create some of the most cherished mission memories. We could have created an entire long list of dining room etiquette for missionaries. Put your best foot (or maybe fork!) forward at every meal by following a few simple mealtime rules. Don’t eat until everyone is served. Don’t put dirty utensils back on the table. Be courteous with how much food you take. Be gracious, even if you’re served a food you don’t like. Don’t put your elbows on the table. Offer up the last of something to others before taking it yourself.
Offer to Help Clean Up
At the end of any meal, offer to help clean up. At the very least, ask if you can help carry the food and dishes to the counter. It can be hard when you are rushing to and from every appointment, but never forget Christ ministered one by one. Never be in such a rush that you miss opportunities to serve the people around you.
Thank You Notes
Leave a thank you note to those who feed or serve you. Let the thank you note reflect your personality and include a sincere comment of thanks. Consider having the note ready ahead of time so you can slip it on the counter or on the door as you leave. If you can’t, make sure to drop off the note within 24 hours.
Be On Time
Do your best to be on time, especially when you have a set appointment. If you are running late, try to send a text or give the person a quick call. If you are going to be substantially late, call and ask if it is still alright if you come over or if the person needs to reschedule. More than anything, try not to cancel meals due to lateness; having members or investigators throw away food because you come too late is disheartening and disappointing for everyone involved.
Don’t Visit Families Late at Night
As missionaries, our schedules fluctuate. Sometimes the work is going well and sometimes it is going slow. We often have a few families in the ward we love to visit when we need something to do. However, we need to be cognizant of what others are doing. It is best not to show up unannounced to someone’s house unless it is to drop something off. Try giving the person a call beforehand. Do not show up late at night to someone’s house, especially without an appointment.
Don’t Touch Your Companion’s Things
You share a lot with your companion. No matter how close you are, make sure to set personal boundaries. This can be solved with a good conversation in your first companionship inventory, which takes place during your weekly planning session. More than anything, be respectful of your companion’s belongings throughout your apartment.
Stay Home if You’re Sick
No matter how much you want to be faithful and work, stay home if you’re sick. Missionaries want to push through, but you come into contact with a lot of people. If you’re running a fever or exhibiting any contagious symptoms, consider staying in for the day. Should you go out and work, avoid shaking hands with others and frequently wash your hands.
Don’t Gossip About Anyone
As missionaries, you will be privileged to hear about the personal details of many people. People will tell you their struggles and fears. You will be privy to family discord and health challenges. Treat this information sacredly. Do not gossip about it with other members or missionaries.
What things would you add to our list?
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.