There was a time when a discussion about manners and etiquette included using the proper fork and writing thank-you notes in a timely manner.
In my opinion, those were the days. We’ve come a long way since then; so long, in fact, that we need to back up and discuss some more basic matters. Yes, we’ve traveled backwards over the past thirty or so years, with respect to the way we treat each other.
Why has this happened? I can’t be sure, but I do feel that social media and “keyboard warriorship” have had a lot to do with our surging disregard for one another. It’s easy to disregard someone if you’re not looking them in the eye when you do it. But since the internet and social media aren’t going anywhere, let’s review some of the basic rules of civility and etiquette in response to that certainty.
1. Use people’s names when you address them. Addressing someone by name is one of the most affirming actions you can take when dealing with people. It matters. And no, “bruh,” “bae,” ”dude,” and “boo” aren’t actual names.
2. If you see someone, say something! When you encounter someone you know, whether in the office or in the supermarket, make an effort to say hello to them.
3. Say “thank you.” In a world of self-righteous entitlement, it’s easy to forget that no one, in fact, owes us a single thing simply because we exist. Anytime someone shows you a kindness, say “thank you” to them, and mean it.
4. Aim the spotlight at someone else. Whether you’re meeting a friend for coffee or accepting a humanitarian award, always make sure that those around you are acknowledged and made to know that they matter. No one got where they are on their own.
5. Make eye contact. If someone is taking the time to talk to you, have the courtesy to give them your full attention. Yes, that means putting your phone away, as painful as that can be.
We live in a world that is a blur much of the time. Everything, even hobbies and pastimes, rush past. One of the beautiful things that separates human beings from machines is our hearts. We all have one; therefore, we can all be injured by slights, rudeness and dismissals by our fellow human beings. By showing others basic civility, consideration and kindness, we can smooth the sharp edges of an otherwise fast-paced, uncaring world.
It’s worth the effort.