Where has common courtesy and politeness gone?
Our parents raised us to be respectful and polite. I would never have dreamed of talking back to a teacher, service person, clerk, or any adult. I always said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. My parents would not tolerate anything less. But unfortunately, it seems that even basic civility is becoming less common in our discourse.
Recently, late one afternoon, I had to call my TV satellite company about an issue. When the customer service rep answered, she asked how my day was going. I replied, “Very good, thank you. How is your day going?” She told me I was the first person that day to ask her about her day and thanked me several times during our discourse for asking.
I was stunned to hear that no one else had given her the common courtesy of asking about her day. Why do we not show basic common courtesy to service workers who help us daily? Or even fellow human beings we encounter as we make our way through our day?
I loved my late husband dearly, but he had anger issues – mostly from his frustration with being legally blind. As a result, he was often very gruff when dealing with service workers – customer service people, salespeople, waiters, etc.
I felt sorry for those people who were not necessarily in charge or made the rules but were merely the messengers. Yet they got the brunt of his anger. I know how that feels since I worked as a salesperson in a department store in high school and had to deal with people like him.
Working in customer service is a tough gig as work usually involves dealing with customers who are unhappy because they are having an issue. And although the customer service rep has to deal with the issue, they did not cause the problem. So, I always try to keep this in mind when dealing with a customer service person.
My life experiences have made me sensitive to how I treat others in the service industry and fellow humans in general. We have no idea what that person we encountered has dealt with that day.
For example, when my husband was dying of cancer, I would take daily walks for my mental health (and still do). I would pass people along my way that I did not always know, but often they would wish me a good day. They had no clue what was happening in my life, but their greetings gave me a connection to a world where maybe everything was not as bleak.
Politeness and kindness are so easy to express and boost our positive energy. On the other hand, anger stresses us out and uses precious energy that we need more of as we age. So, when you are out in the world, greet your fellow humans with a smile, ask about their day, and say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.
Thank your bus driver for stopping at your stop. Thank the grocery clerk for going the extra mile to take you to the product you need. Thank customer service reps for help with your issue and praise them for resolving it. Thank your doctors for their excellent care.
Thank your hairdresser and manicurist for helping you feel good about your appearance. Thank your waiter for the great job they have done – and leave a generous tip. Thank your garbage collector, your mail and package deliverer, the people who keep your parks and streets clean – the list could go on and on.
You may have no idea what a positive impact your kindness and common courtesy may have on that person – and the people they interact with in their lives. As the older generation, we should be modeling and passing on to the younger generations what our parents instilled in us.
How do you show appreciation to those you encounter in your life? What acts of kindness have been shown to you? Have you been the giver or receiver of random acts of kindness? What were those random acts of kindness? What made you pass on a random act of kindness to another person?
Tags Finding Happiness