Being thoughtful and polite.

Do you think there is a rudeness epidemic in America? According to a national survey conducted from 2011 to 2013 among 1,000 American adults, 70% believe incivility has hit pandemic proportions.  And 43% percent anticipate they’ll experience some form of rude behavior within the next 24 hours. Has rudeness become a standard way of everyday life? Is it all we are to expect?
I watched a recent episode of Chicago Med, where a doctor rudely jumped in front of someone to get a cup of coffee. She neither said ‘Excuse me’ nor ‘I’m sorry. Instead, when the doctor was confronted about her bad behavior, with all the entitlement she could muster, she denied it.
Earlier this week, I witnessed a woman hold open a door open, allowing four people to enter a room.  I was amazed and quote saddened that not one of them even turned to her to say,  ‘Thank you. It was as if they felt she did what she was supposed to cater to them.  It appears more commonplace than ever before.  The words ‘Excuse me, ‘I’m sorry, ‘Thank you, ‘May I,’ etc., have just become obsolete.  Why? My own opinion is that we learn from our role models. If they are rude, then we learn to be rude. Whenever I think of learned behavior, I think of the song from South Pacific, “You Have to Be Carefully Taught.”
Yet, projecting good manners isn’t hard to do if you think about it.  How much effort does it take to say, Thank you?  Very little. Yet, saying Thank you goes a long way, not only in how others feel about us but how we feel about ourselves.  When you show good manners, others are more likely to be polite to you in return.
So how can you improve your good manners?

The Huffington Post offers four ways to shape up:

  1. Develop Empathy for Others. Do you say what’s on your mind regardless of whether you hurt someone else’s feelings? It is your way or the highway? Instead of chewing a waiter’s head off for mixing up your order or constantly interrupting your relatives to get your point across, try to see things from the other person’s point of view.
  2. Engage People in a Way that Protects Their Self-Esteem. Do you laugh at your friends’ expense? Do you always have a sarcastic comment about everything? Sarcasm is the lowest form of humor. If you’re making a joke, and you’re the only one laughing, that’s a clue. A lot of comedy has a sharp edge to it. If it’s always somebody else bleeding, it may be that you’re hurting other people’s feelings. A friend of mine shared a YouTube video with me. My most profound message was, “It only takes a few seconds to open profound wounds in persons we love; it takes many years to heal them.”
  3. Find a Better Way to Be Assertive There’s a difference between being assertive and aggressive. Strong people stand up for their rights, while aggressive people often step on the rights of others. You can tell someone the truth and stand up for yourself while being kind, warm, and genuine. Why not speak your mind in a way that leaves the other person feeling better about themselves than when you got there? For example, if the offender is someone you know, make eye contact and call this person by his or her name as you calmly speak your mind.
  4. Treat everyone with dignity and respect. I always try to treat everybody with dignity and respect. I might tell them the truth they don’t want to hear, but I’m not going to treat them in a way without dignity and respect because I feel like we’re all in this together — this human experience called life. Treat others the way you expect to be treated.

In the 1963 novel “I Am David” by Anne Holm, Johannes says to David:
“Politeness is something you owe other people because when you show a little courtesy, everything becomes more accessible and better. But first and foremost, it’s something you owe yourself.
So, let’s start with today. How do you plan to show a little courtesy?


Francine D. Ward
Attorney-At-Law, Author, Speaker

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