I’m really on a bit of a manners kick these days. I don’t know if I fell asleep and woke up a cranky old lady, but it seems like most of the world just put all etiquette in a box and threw it away overnight. Maybe I expect too much, but in these times of financial and political strife, a little manners can go a long, long way.
I’m not suggesting we go back to the dark ages and get all Emily Post proper, but there some of what I’ll term ‘manner basics’ that I believe we would all benefit from seeing come back into a part of everyday living in 2013. And if I’ve taken a little modern-day license, well, so be it. We need a little civility these days!
1. “Please”, “Thank You” and “You’re Welcome” always. No excuses. Period.
2. Hold the door for anyone older than you or visibly challenged. The latter includes those who are handicapped, juggling a baby/toddler or carrying large packages. It does not include someone too wrapped up in their own cellphone conversation to notice the door in front of them and the people waiting behind them.
3. Don’t park in the handicapped spot if you’re not. Not even for the five minutes you think you are only going to be. Ditto for the spot reserved for expectant Moms, Wounded Warriors, etc. These people have earned these conveniences and you haven’t. Park somewhere else and be thankful for your ability to get from your car to the front door of the business you are patronizing without injury or pain.
4. Give the person you are engaged with your undivided attention. That means when you get a cell phone call or a text in the middle of dinner or a meeting, unless you are waiting to hear your spouse’s water broke or your Mom is out of surgery, it can wait. Taking a phone call – especially a personal one – when you are visiting with a friend is basically telegraphing that the person on the phone is more important. Not so classy. The phone can wait.
5. Acknowledge gifts and acts of kindness. No gift or act of kindness – no matter how grand or small – should ever go unacknowledged. Yes, in this day it is acceptable to send an email for most occasions to express thanks and gratitude for most things. But I will cling to the idea that if the gift/gesture was really special, the thank you should be too. No one will ever deny the joy and pleasure of receiving a handwritten thank you. We all need to send more of them!
6. Be discreet. Social Media has its pros and cons and I love being able to see the pictures and hear the news of what’s happening in the lives of my friends and family. But remember that all of that stuff is out there forever. Job hunters, future employers, future spouses (and in-laws!) will all be able to see and read everything you post. Some things really are best left for private communication and sharing. We all need to rediscover the benefits of privacy and less-immediate gratification on sharing the “news” in our lives.
7. Wait to eat until everyone is served. The simple graciousness of dining together – which we all need to do more – is about doing just that! When you all sit down, it really is important to wait to begin eating until everyone has received their food. We teach this at home and we practice it when we dine out. It is an important lesson to be taught to our children, for they will need to know it when they are adults.
8. Practice good elevator and escalator etiquette. This is the city girl in my coming out, but there are seriously rules and they are easy to follow. On the elevator (or public transportation), don’t get on until everyone coming off is off (how easy is that?). On an escalator (or moving sidewalk), if you aren’t going to walk, then stand to the right so that others can easily pass you on the left without having to ask you to move. That’s it. It is simple and civil…really!
9. Don’t be an overhead bin hog! Travelling today is stressful and there is nothing worse than the traveler who decides that overhead bin is their own personal storage space. Look again, pal, it stretches over three rows of seats. Get the picture? There really is some truth to the “use the space under your sear” for personal items (that’s your purse or briefcase” and the overhead bin for larger items. Which, by the way, not your purse or briefcase – it’s your roller bag that you should probably check because it won’t fit no matter how hard you push and shove. Yes, airlines make it really hard and challenging these days, but being a rude, piggy traveller won’t help make it any more pleasant!
10. Don’t hijack the post. My ode to modern technology, there is definitely a need for modern manners when it comes to the whole idea of Facebook posts. When someone posts a picture of some great event in their life and all of their other friends are joyfully commenting about it, that’s not the time to ask “did you get the package I sent?” That’s akin to throwing a bucket of water on a bride and groom in the middle of their wedding toast. Use the private message function for private questions. Don’t be a hijacker!!!
So, a few things we can all do in 2013 to be a more civil society as we move about our world. Whether we’re out shopping, home sharing news and pictures on the internet or texting with family, a little more manners, please!!!