20 Ways to Common Courtesy that We Often Forget
by Jennifer Xue
From time to time, we “break” the code of mannerism, despite what our mothers taught us. Sometimes we have to “fake” out, to make things look more “acceptable.” With today’s world of gadgets, we can easily “fake” things out by focusing on our little virtual world. Common courtesy, thus, is a rarity. Let’s remind ourselves that we are courteous and modern lifestyle doesn’t change us into “uncivilized” beasts.
How often do you see someone who isn’t paying attention to his or her surroundings because of being too busy with a cellphone, tablet computer, or laptop? Whenever we are sitting in a round dinner table, we can clearly notice who are making eye contact with the diners and who aren’t.
In general, there are twenty ways you can do or not do in any situation, so you can have a “good manner.” They might sound cliché, yet it’s always good to remind ourselves that we need to have them at all times.
What goes around comes around. Including good manners.
Remember the first lessons your parents and kindergarten teachers taught you. Say “thank you,” “excuse me,” “please,” “you’re welcome,” “good morning,” “good afternoon,” “good evening,” and “good night.” These are the foundation of common courtesy.
Be a good listener. Listening should come naturally. Ever since we were born, we have been listening to our parents, teachers, elders, and bosses. In our interaction with others, it is always good to listen to others, instead of blabbering our thoughts. And by “listening,” it is more than waiting for your turn to speak. Listening involves paying attention to what’s being said, confirming, and commenting positively and constructively.
Keep an eye contact, but not too much, not too little. Eye contact is culturally relative. In western cultures, it is impolite to look down or away when talking to someone. You are expected to look at the eyes of the person you’re talking to. But not too much, not too little. Be aware of cultural nuances when talking to people of other cultures, for they may have different interpretations of various types of eye contact.
Wait for your turn before you speak. Too many people simply wait for their turn to speak. It’s true that you need to wait for your turn before speaking, but waiting shouldn’t be limited for this purpose only. Your intention to wait should be for the proper flow of conversation. This way, the flow would make conversation nicer, warmer, and equal in a less-threatening way.
Think before you speak. That extravert individuals speak first and think later is a myth. You can always train your mind to think first and speak later, especially when it comes to things that can be perceived as “offensive,” like marital and social statuses. In certain cultures, however, it is common to have small talks related to family and where you live. Use your best discretion in answering and asking back.
Use positive or neutral body language. In most cultures, standing relaxed and looking attentive is perceived as “neutral.” In certain Asian cultures, a slight slouch is a sign of submission. And in most cultures, standing with “open” body language is a sign of independence and confidence.
Be patient. Waiting for your turn, being attentive despite the person you’re talking to is a bit rambling, and not cutting in front of the line. One’s courtesy is the most evident when waiting in line. Japanese people are famous for this, which is an admirable quality.
Be positive. Stay positive despite negativity, rudeness, and negative remarks. Keep a polite smile as a way to say to yourself that you’re maintaining a positive demeanor. Whenever the person you’re speaking to is using a negative tone or sounding bitter, balance it with a positive and soothing tone. You might be tempted to do the opposite and it requires training to find a distinctive “you” style of positivity.
It is OK to say “no.” It is better to underpromise and overdeliver than to overpromise and underdeliver. When your plate is already overflowing, it is better to say politely, “I’d love to do it for us, but I don’t think I have the time. Perhaps some other time?” A sincere smile would always help.
Don’t swear. Swearing is a big no-no. It is also a big turnoff in many people. If you want to be perceived as a “civilized” and “polite” individual, especially when impressing new friends, it is better to keep your mouth shout and keep swearing to yourself.
Offer some help. Helpful people are perceived as friendly and easy to work with. We want to have helpful friends, right? In any situation, being helpful is favorable, unless when involving illegal and unethical matters. Try being a good friend to all, without exception.
Don’t talk too much. Keep confidential things confidential. Minimize gossiping about others. Ask how things are going on with the person you’re talking to. Ask about his or her day. Refrain from talking about “sensitive” things, like health, religion, politics, and money. People like to be reminded about their nice qualities, not the ones that have been causing problems.
Remember the Golden Rule. Remember to do things unto others what you want others to do unto you. Be nice to others, so others will be nice to you. When you’re keeping things in balance, you can expect things to be in balance in your life. Or, close to it. What goes around, comes around. And we prefer to keep good things around.
Pay attention. Don’t focus on your gadget when speaking with others. How often do you see people are glued to their gadgets even when there are others around them? They seem so far away from people who are so close physically. Try checking your smartphone to once or twice only. And before you do, ask for a permission from those are talking to you. “Do you mind me checking my messages for one second?” and quickly stop when you’re done.
Give the benefit of the doubt. When someone was terribly late or didn’t come to a meeting without any explanation, give him or her the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps an emergency suddenly comes up. Don’t swear or show excessive restlessness.
Compliment others. Compliment their clothing or shoes. And say thanks for coming. “Good to have you here” is a neutral compliment. You don’t sound too much, yet sound grateful. It projects confidence, friendliness, and positivity.
Say “I’m sorry.” If you bump into people, say sorry. But don’t over do it. Sometimes an “excuse me” is sufficient. Admit your faults, no matter how small. If you feel “sorry” that someone’s relative or dog has died, express your condolence sincerely.
Know your boundaries. Don’t move things around. Don’t enter rooms without permission. If the party is hosted at home and it has two storeys, don’t go upstairs without permission. You can ask the host to show the house around for a quick “house tour.” But never take the liberty to be your own house guide. If you need to get something from the fridge, ask for permission as well.
Keep things clean. Don’t spill drinks and don’t wear your sticky soil-ladden shoes on the carpet. If you did spill drink accidentally, notify the host and help to clean the carpet. Don’t wait or pretend nothing happened as it would cause deep stain that might not be removable.
Follow the rules of the house. Whatever the host said, follow it. If she doesn’t allow kids to enter certain rooms, remind your kids not to do so. If she needs the guests to be off the lawn, don’t step on it. Be a courteous guest, so you’ll have courteous guests too, at home.
Jennifer Xue is the founder and chief editor of SiliconValleyGlobe.com.
Image Source: Pixabay