I had the pleasure of appearing on a San Francisco radio show, called The David Lazarus Show. The focus was the demise of etiquette, manners, and civility. With only a few days’ notice and knowing this was a live, listener call-in show, I thought long and hard on this subject, more than ever before.
I came up with eight observations on where words such as politeness, courtesy, respect, consideration, goodness, civility have gone—along with all other words describing appropriate behavior—and how necessary these are in our daily lives. All require a little homework.
Perhaps you will think some of what I have to written is provocative and you will have thoughts of your own to share. Please see the bottom of this newsletter for details on how you can share your thoughts with others and me on this most important subject (Advanced Etiquette Blog).
1. We live in a world of ever-growing diversity. Result: We live among strangers . No longer do we live in neighborhoods where everyone knows one-another, or work in congenial work environments where people contribute to each others’ well-being and respect each other. Homework: Introduce yourself to your neighbors and co-workers. Get to know them better. You will no longer be strangers, and you will build your own community of friends in your neighborhood and workplace.
2. We are led to believe anything goes, anything is possible, and we are free to be whomever we want. Result: We look out for Number 1 and live in a world of selfishness. With this attitude, we may not care who we hurt and who we step on to get what we want. Courtesy, consideration, politeness, and civility cannot be shown only when convenient and aligned with our ultimate goals and plans. Homework: Remind yourself of the golden and platinum rules: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you; and Do unto others as they would like to be treated.
3 We believe more is better. Result: We spend more time under stress. Today it is harder to be content with who we are and what we have. We are expected to make more money, have more possessions, acquire bigger houses, and set strategic goals for greater power and position. Homework: Think about what is really important in your life. One way may be to write in your calendar specific dates and times to spend time with your spouse, children, family, and friends. Block out vacation time and personal time, too, and never postpone or cancel these appointments. Treat everyone as though they were your most valued clients—including yourself.
4. Many people don’t know how to play the game. Result: We live in a world of “lost identity.” Many kids and adults are unaware of how to behave in certain situations. We have fewer role models about whom a we can say, “I want to be just like him or her when I grow up.” Homework: Build your own identity of good behavior. 1. Make a written list of all the good qualities you would like to possess. 2. Compare this list against the best characteristics of one or more people you admire in life. 3. Watch and analyze how you and your ideal are examples for how to handle various situations in a positive and good manner.
5. We live in a world where there is a greater lack of self-esteem and self-confidence, in both young people and adults. Result: We see increased rates in negative behavior, such as violence, rage, murders, suicides, and other behaviors. We do not practice the skills that help us develop as good human beings. It is important for young people and adults to have the guidance and coaching on how to display good reasoning skills and respect for others when in a conflict situation. Homework: Think within yourself the next time you are confronted with a situation that makes your blood boil. Be sensitive to how you act and how it affects others in a positive or negative, productive or non-productive way.
6. We have access to fewer role-models, figureheads, wise elders, and teachers. Result: We do not have guidance on how to develop and act. Homework: Write down the qualities you admire in a friend, family member, or co-worker. These will become part of what I call “The Civility P.L.E.D.G.E.”©*, where you make an active choice to develop those qualities in yourself. (*= People Leading Everyone to Do Good Everywhere)
7. Parents have trouble handling the complexities of parenting in the 21st century. Result: Parents always do the best they can. Yet in today’s complex world, sometimes the best is still not enough. Many kids are still not receiving proper instruction, mentoring, and tutoring in the many aspects of life, such as respecting and displaying courtesy and politeness to others, and table manners. Homework: If you are a parent or a teacher—the two most crucial influences in child development—by default. Take time to talk and spend time with your child/teen regularly.
8. People require and expect less from others. Result: People do their own thing and are not expected to do much of anything. Every home and business environment have their own inherent guidelines to appropriate behavior, yet much is not reinforced in our daily lives. Homework: Be an example first. Teach our children and reinforce good behaviors in all we do. Do not have an attitude of “Do as I say, not as I do.”
Conclusion: It all starts with you and me. On any given day, we cannot be responsible for everyone’s actions. We can only take responsibility for our own actions. Set a good example. Take the time and care to mentor, coach, and tutor those who are your responsibility, including children, students, and staff members under your care.
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