Saturday, April 13, 2024
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Because You Are Polite

by Ginger Philbrick

The other day, a kind friend helped me connect to a national radio call-in talk show on the state of manners in our country. The negative comments on America’s behavioral “report card” weren’t a surprise, but they were disheartening in their number; only one of the roughly 15 callers believed manners were not on the downslide.

What stayed on my mind was the comment of an interviewee who said the change she would most like to see is that people take time for the niceties. We live in a world that is experiencing, almost daily, stunning cruelty and meanness. It isn’t ridiculous to suggest that we need to begin from the ground up again, and develop a foundation of civility in our society by practicing basic niceties.

In response, I have undertaken a three-day independent, unfunded study of what may be called opportunities for niceties that we have daily. Following are comments from NPR contributors on the subject, mingled with my observations.

The opportunity to:

• Say hello, with a smile, to a stranger we pass on the street or in an aisle.

• Say, or write, thank you for all kindnesses we receive, big or small.

• Say “I am sorry” when we have offended someone—and mean it.

• Say “excuse me” when we have unintentionally invaded another’s personal space.

• Inviting the person behind us in the check-out line to go first if he has one or two items and we have many more.

• Hold the door open for the person behind us.

• Focus on the person who is talking to us, even if our cell phone is vying for attention. If we must take a call, first explain to the person to whom we’re talking by saying, “Please excuse me; I need to take this call.”

• On emails, take time to begin with a simple greeting, such as “Hello” or “Good morning.” End with a pleasantry, even if it is only “thank you.”

When our day of engaging in niceties that encourage, refresh and gladden others is coming to an end, we do one more thoughtful thing—quash the urge to call someone after 9 p.m. We all need rest to prepare for the next day of niceties, when we will continue to treat others as we would like to be treated.

Sound familiar?

Ginger Philbrick is the owner of Because You Are Polite LLC. You are invited to email your manners questions to her and she will respond as time and space allow. You may contact her at [email protected].

Rappahannock Record Staff
Rappahannock Record Staff
From the Rappahannock Record news team

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