Common courtesies and politeness may seem to be small gestures but those small gestures make a big difference to the quality of relationships and need to be practiced as often as possible!
Recently I have come across several instances where people are not using common courtesy or politeness. One was in a primary relationship where one partner didn’t seem to know this was a social norm. Another was in a business partnership and also affected the employees. Yet another was between colleagues. It left me shaking my head and wondering what is happening out there!
People may sometimes feel that they don’t have the time or energy to be polite or to give to others the small gestures that compose what we call common courtesy. It may even sometimes seem that this kind of behaviour belongs to the past to more gentile times. Yet, haven’t you noticed that when someone extends this kind of courtesy to you, you feel acknowledged, touched that they extended this politeness or courtesy to you. When a person lends a helping hand when someone is struggling with groceries doesn’t that make an impression! How often have you seen people walk right on by when someone is struggling to open a door? It matters when a person simply makes the effort to look us in the eye or smile at us. When people take the time and effort to greet us properly, when they or we enter a room it stands out, it means something, we appreciate that contact! Those polite people carry with them the knowledge, elegance and grace that politeness and common courtesy is a small gesture that makes a big difference, that allows them to stand a head and shoulders above the crowd.
How does one go about becoming a person who extends politeness and common courtesy? Well the first step is awareness of others and looking outside yourself to see when someone else needs help or acknowledgment. As a polite and courteous person, you are aware as you are walking into a room full of people to acknowledge them. When your waiter comes to take your order you smile, acknowledge them and then give your order. With awareness and some common sense it is usually quite clear what needs to be done. Open the door for the woman holding the groceries or holding a baby, apologize if you bump into someone, say thank you when someone gives you something or compliments you, seek out your partner to say hello when you arrive home and make sure to give a hug and a good-bye when you leave, say goodnight before rolling over to go to sleep, smile back when someone smiles at you, ask if anyone else wants the last cookie before you gobble it down, say please often, make sure your car is parked correctly so another person can park behind you, lend your hand when one is in need of one, acknowledge your daughter’s boyfriend with a smile and some conversation and the list goes on. Politeness matters it makes a difference in the quality of relationships! Challenge yourself to be polite and courteous even when it is difficult to do so, even when you are in a rush or are having a bad day. It will make you feel better about you!
Remember to be polite and give courtesy freely and often, without expecting anything in return. People may not even take notice, they may not return the gestures in kind, but you can know you are making a difference and created a world that you want to live in. You can know that you are being an example and setting a standard and that through politeness and courtesy you are creating a better world. Remember that, politeness and common courtesy is still in vogue!