Real akhlaq is not necessarily about good manners per se, but it is about what intentions you have when you undertake it.
By Nabi Raza Abidi
When you show good manners and patience to someone because you fear him (or her), it can lead to serious problems. The anger, resentment and all other internal problems get bottled up and the person who publicly shows good manners/patience may snap once he (or she) is in a position of power. For example, some people will show great patience and manners in front of a boss, but totally lose their cool with their children and/or spouse because now there is no fear, so all those bottled up negative emotions are given free reign to come out and wreck total havoc.
What’s the solution? When dealing with a boss or someone who is in a position of power (or in a position to hurt you), change your niyyah (intention). Instead of being good, patient and showing good manners for the sake of fearing a person in authority, do them for the sake of Allah (swt). You will find that when you do this, all those negative feelings are bottled up much less and you are more likely to show the same attitude with people who are under you like your children (or spouse, friends etc.) This is what real akhlaq (spiritual ethics) is about in Islam, good manners/patience (or what have you) done for the sake of something or someone other than God is not akhlaq, it is servitude to illusion and dunya and it will be exposed sooner or later.
Nabi Raza Abidi
Resident Imam of the SABA Islamic CenterSan Jose, California