Question: Dear Stacy, I have been hearing so many stories about bad manners and bad behavior, especially by young people. Sometimes I just can’t believe what I am hearing. I try to constantly remind my own children to say “please” and “thank you” and sometimes it is a battle. Why does it seem like people are ruder than ever? What happened to holding the door for each other, letting others over in traffic or simply smiling and saying hello rather than having our faces down in our smart phones 24/7? Whatever happened to “treat others as you want to be treated”? Do you think there is hope for politeness making a comeback? –Peeved in Parkville
Answer: Dear Peeved in Parkville, I was just thinking about this myself after listening to a radio show discuss kids fighting in school, even to the point of bullying each other to commit suicide. I thought what in the world is going on. I have also heard more recently about neighbors having restraining orders against each other. This is no way to live as human beings. I agree, where did our civility go?
When I researched this question, I found many articles about the topic. One article from app.com asked the same question to five academics and this is what they had to say. Kathleen Brady states that due to our fast-paced culture and “bold” and “brash” ways of dealing with each other, the Golden rule has been overlooked “because it slows us down.” “Sadly, we have chipped away at the importance of virtues to the point where good manners are thought to be quaint or “old school.” Our attention has become self-directed instead of other-directed. Yet if we choose to live by the Golden Rule and treat each other as we want to be treated ourselves, we can stem the tide of bad behavior and ensure good manners once again become commonplace.”
She suggests incorporating these simple practices into your daily life: Say “please,” “thank you” and “excuse me.” Listen. Practice the THINK speaking technique. Once you have heard the other person’s position, you have earned the right to speak. However, before you respond, Think whether or not what you are about to say is Honest, Important, Necessary, and Kind. If it does not satisfy all of these elements, mind your manners, and keep your mouth shut. Maintain personal boundaries. Honor your commitments.
Hillary Brennan believes that “The essence of etiquette is thoughtfully considering others and realizing that our words and actions impact our society. We rely on etiquettes — making eye contact, having a firm handshake, adeptly introducing ourselves, using proper dining etiquette, and being well groomed — to help determine integrity, honesty, and credibility. We get a sense, consciously or unconsciously, and determine whether or not to give someone a chance. Within a matter of seconds, we ultimately determine if we were hired, fired, or desired. The Internet and cable television have catapulted bad behavior into celebrity, using its shock value to market products and drive ratings. How do we act civilly when we prefer to hold eye contact with our phones, our vice president drops the “f bomb,” cars are our new dining tables and reality television rules?” I could not agree more with all of this.
In addition, “The “me” generation is under greater financial, social and time pressure than previous generations. We are expected to be available to our boss 24/7, post selfies and be parents. No wonder that depression is on the rise as we struggle to keep up. Amidst all of this madness, we collide together in multi-generational offices, on crowded airplanes and at family functions with varying degrees of preparedness to handle life’s messy complications. By integrating social-skills training into every school and college curriculum, professional development program, as well as the prison system; we could empower individuals to become leaders, thus changing their lives and our world. Teaching individuals to be aware, prepared and confident for social circumstances can positively impact family life, classrooms and the workplace. Teaching life skills for real life could revolutionize our society’s ability to minimize bullying, drug use, sexual permissiveness, depression, and recidivism. Let’s all do our part to play nice.”
It sounds so simple, so why is it not happening? Paula Franzese states that it is! “Good manners are alive and well. They just get overshadowed by the barrage of invective that often hijacks social media and the airwaves and that would deceive us into thinking that civility is a thing of the past. Yet, every day, people commit to acts of generosity, kindness and basic decency, even in difficult circumstances. It’s not that virtue is dead. It’s that people behaving badly tend to be the loudest. It’s time to reclaim the promise and example of the noble majority.”
He recommends that we do that by: “1. Good manners start at home. To reclaim civility in the public realm, we must first be sure that it is thriving in our own homes. How do we treat the people who matter most? What behaviors are we modeling for family and friends, whether at the dinner table, in the car or online? Are we one way when out in the world and another way in private? Integrity is when the outside matches the inside. 2. Take inventory of our social media imprint. Each of us should do a careful audit of our social and professional networks. What do our posts, tweets and comments say about us and the world we want to live in? It’s time to shine a light on what we want to see more of and to loudly trumpet whatever is virtuous, noble and inspiring. We relegate hatefulness and thuggery to the margins by refusing to give it a platform. We can use our social media presence to draw attention to good manners, unsung heroism and valor in everyday life. 3. Return to civics teaching as part of our school system’s core curriculum. …explore what it means to be a responsible citizen and contributor to the marketplace of ideas. Character counts and it can be modeled and rewarded every day, as we teach children to respect intelligence but to respect kindness even more.”
As Hillary Brennan from app.com states, “We’ve all witnessed or exhibited bad manners. It’s the equal opportunity offender, with no regard for limits or boundaries, transcending all cultural, economic, and social levels. The question is, with the “genie released from the bottle,” do we possess the will or have the means to foster civility in our anything-goes world?”
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.