Common Courtesy as a Daily Practice

By | 2017-01-13T13:42:24+00:00 April 14th, 2010|Categories: Respectful Workplace|Tags: , |3 Comments

Do you ever feel like you don’t have the time or energy to be available to others as often  as you would like to be? It happens to me more often than I care to think about. I find that time flies by so fast sometimes that it doesn’t seem like there’s enough time to accomplish what I have set out to do each day. Often I am left with little time for myself or anyone else. Is it poor time management, good old fashioned stress, or just life moving us at another speed?

The small gestures that make us feel good about ourselves can be amazingly helpful to others and are part of what is referred to as common courtesy. Sometimes it seems as if these kindnesses have been relegated to the good old days when life moved at a slower pace, without all the electronic devices of the 21st century, and when downtime meant quality time with good friends and family. Nowadays, it seems like we have less time to be courteous. Although this need not be the case if we rethink what we do each day and consider a little forethought.

When someone shows me courtesy or politeness, I always feel happy, yet oddly surprised. Like when I see someone helping a senior citizen struggling with grocery bags. This simple yet helpful act makes a good impression. Many people might just walk right by. Something as simple as making the effort to look someone in the eye, to smile at the solitary person sitting on the park bench, or greet others cordially upon entering a room stands out. These people display kindness and grace, and I am always thankful for my contact with them. Such common courtesies make big differences in peoples’ lives.

Much has been written about random acts of kindness. These usually short articles always bring a warm fuzzy feeling in the reader because we can relate to these simple gestures.

I remember the first time I went through a toll booth at a bridge and gave two fares to the attendant – one for me and the other for the car behind me. That particular time I knew the driver of the car behind me. It was a fun and unexpected perk to brighten up her day. I was later thanked and wondered if perhaps the gesture would even be reciprocated by her. But I cannot tell you how many times I have done that since then without knowing the driver behind me. I am usually not thanked except for perhaps the flashing of headlights and I figure the gesture is not likely to be reciprocated by the recipient. But I get the same thrill. I like doing this kind deed.

How would practicing this gesture daily benefit our lives and the lives of those around us? How many arguments could we avoid? How much road rage could we prevent on the highways? How much positive energy could we generate? I think if each of us thought about this for a moment and decided to try it, even just one small gesture, we would feel quite different about our everyday dealings with the world around us. Simply helping in these generous ways would benefit us as well as others.

Key components of these considerations are awareness and common sense.

Look beyond your world and notice when someone might benefit from a helping hand, a genuine smile, or nod of acknowledgment. A courteous person often consciously and purposefully notices other people when they walk into a room.

Awareness naturally leads to action. It is often clear what needs to be done. Step up to the plate and open the door for the woman carrying her baby, move your car a tad to accommodate a parked vehicle, acknowledge your sister’s shy boyfriend with a smile and some conversation,  and apologize if you bump into someone – better yet, be aware that someone is coming toward you and avoid a collision.

Another important component is to give of your self freely. Do not expect anything in return. Your thank you comes in the doing and knowing that you have been a kind person. People may not even take notice, much less return the kindness, but you can take heart in the fact that with your actions you are creating the kind of world you want to live in.

As you go through your hectic day, remember to be aware of others, lend a hand when one is needed and give this help without an ulterior motive. Through these small actions, you make this world a better place in which to live.

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive articles like this and more by email.Sign up now
Learn more about our employee surveys, customized training, keynote speakers, and coaching.Learn more

About the Author:

Jay Remer
Jay Remer is certified by the Protocol School of Washington as a consultant for corporate etiquette and international protocol. He lives in St. Andrews, NB, Canada. For more information, visit www.etiquetteguy.com.

3 Comments

  1. Debbie Scruggs April 14, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    This is a great newsletter and this article was wonderful. Wouldn’t our world be the better if we all practiced being courteous! We just need to be more “in the moment” and be respectful, thoughtful. I’m always reminded….Never tire of doing the good things!

  2. Melanie Sklarz April 16, 2010 at 9:53 am

    @Debbie, we’re humbled by your praise. Of course, we couldn’t agree with you more – ok, maybe we could – about being more courteous and remembering to be “in the moment.” Thanks again for reading!

  3. Paul Meshanko April 18, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Really nice thoughts, Jay…respect often is all about the little things some days. There are so many little “traps” that unintentionally [emotionally] detach us from one another (texting, email, over-work, etc.), that those little face-to-face gestures really do help keep us civil…and maybe a bit more sane. Keep up the nice work!

Comments are closed.