It’s Not as Hard as It Looks
Being a nice person is often regarded as something you can just switch on for special occasions, and then switch off again when it’s over. But that just isn’t so. Being nice isn’t a 9 to 5 thing. It’s a matter of character. It’s also akin to using plain old common sense throughout your day.
Try a little common courtesy as you go about your day and watch how it garners pleasant and helpful responses from those you interact with.
And remember, kindness isn’t reserved for “special occasions” or only when out witnessing. Use it all the time. Thoughtful behavior works everywhere, from supermarket checkout lines, to family picnics, to eating out with friends.
Use it and watch it work for you.
Fig Newton to first class
While traveling on a business trip from Los Angeles to New York, Rachel Pine noticed that the airline crew looked extremely hurried. So when the flight attendant came by to check her seat belt, Rachel offered her a Fig Newton (fig bar) from her family-size pack.
“She took it, and was so grateful that she looked like she was going to burst into tears,” said Rachel. Soon after, the attendant returned and asked Rachel to follow her—to first class. “The attendant said, ‘You have no idea what our last flight was like. If just one passenger had been like you, it would have been bearable.'”
From Fig Newton to first class—it’s surprising how big an impact a sweet gesture or remark can have. To taste success in more areas of your life, sprinkle a bit of sugar now and then.
Extending everyday courtesies when you’re out and about
Here are some simple, everyday uses of etiquette for when you’re out and about:
Keep good eye contact.
Smile. Even when you aren’t in a good mood—a smile may just change your, and someone else’s, demeanor!
Greet those you come in contact with or even those just walking by on the street with “Hello” or “Good afternoon.”
Use “Please” and “Thank you” when being waited on.
Try to use a person’s name, particularly when he dons a name tag.
Reply when someone speaks to you.
Give people space. Don’t crowd!
Don’t make a mess with public spaces (such as coffee shops or condiment bars).
Be discreet. You never know who may be within earshot.
Speak softly when you’re in public.
Stay to the right when walking on a sidewalk or standing on a moving walkway or escalator.
Open doors for others.
Refrain from using off-color language.
Don’t be a rude, obnoxious cell-phone user!
Properly dispose of your trash and pick up trash others leave behind.
Drive with patience and yield to other drivers.
Etiquette is based in ethics and kindness, not pretense. It is the mark of character and manners. It is respecting others no matter what their position in life. In fact, you indicate who you are by the way you treat others.—Sara Pentz
Creating a serene environment
You can find no better place to practice good manners than with people in your day-to-day life, those with whom you live and work. Treat your family, friends, and co-workers with respect and courtesy, and all the difficulties of the outside world are easier for them (and you) to bear.
Simple expressions of politeness at home contribute to an environment of refuge from daily aggravations. Don’t be stingy when using expressions like the following (and don’t limit yourself to these five):
“Please pass the potatoes.”
“Thanks for the glass of water.”
“I really appreciate your help in folding the laundry.”
“You look nice this morning.”
“I’m proud of you.”
It looks a little corny on paper, but this approach can accomplish miracles at home. Do it. Say it. Be nice. Treat your family members as if they were honored guests, and their responses may surprise you. Courtesy is contagious!
Even in the professional setting, common courtesies and good etiquette improve your working environment. After all, you spend a lot of your day at work, so a little effort can pay huge dividends in positive energy in your workplace.
Giving and Receiving Compliments
In order to be a model of good manners, you need to be able to give and receive compliments. The goal of a compliment is to make others feel good about themselves, not just to make a shallow comment to start a conversation. And when someone else gives you a compliment, you should show courtesy by graciously accepting the kind word.
To be successful, a compliment (or your response to one) should be sincere and specific.
Here are a few guidelines to remember about giving and receiving compliments:
Be sincere when complimenting someone. It’s usually obvious if you’re not.
When you receive a compliment, always say “Thank you,” and don’t discount or dispute what the person said. For example, when someone compliments your outfit, don’t respond with, “This old thing?” Simply say something like “Thank you. Yes, I love it, too!” or, “My sister bought this for me.”
Rising Above Rudeness
Most people are rude because they’re responding to others who have been rude to them. This domino effect can stop with you if you rise above rudeness, even if it’s difficult for you. When you take the higher ground, you always come away feeling a lot better about the situation and yourself. By treating others with respect and dignity, you create a win-win situation for all parties, and it shows you have respect for yourself. In addition, you just may change someone’s bad attitude and show them a few tricks of good behavior.
The following are a few examples of rude behavior and how to respond when you’re faced with them:
Cutting in line: Yes, waiting your turn and then having someone decide that waiting just isn’t his thing is unpleasant. But in this case, don’t yell, “No cuts, no buts, no coconuts!” Instead, just politely act as if that person has a particular reason that he’s unable to wait in the queue like everyone else.
Driving like a maniac: On today’s roads and highways, the prevalence of rudeness abounds. If someone cuts you off, tailgates, or ignores other road rules, you usually have two choices:
Exhibit bad behavior back by tailgating (or stomping on your brakes if he’s tailgating you), honking your horn, or gesturing, which could most likely result in some shared road rage or who knows what may happen.
Let the person go, wave, and smile (even if you’re truly annoyed). In fact, wave as if to say “I assume you didn’t see me, but have a nice day!” This choice is definitely the better of the two.
When you’ve been inadvertently rude, made a mistake, blundered, created an accident, or said the wrong thing, apologize immediately! The longer you wait to express your regrets, the less effective your gestures are.
If you need to apologize, you can say (without making a long list of excuses) that you were just not thinking, and say you’re sorry for not being more sensitive to that person or the situation. Find something supportive to say and honestly show you have an interest in the person, such as in the following example:
“I’m really sorry about forgetting about our dinner date—I completely forgot to mark it on my calendar. It’s my fault. How about I treat you to dinner next week? Please pick the date, and I will be sure to mark it in my planner this time!”
The eyes don’t lie. So, remember to look the person straight in the eyes when extending your apology and check your body language. Your body communicates as much about you as your words.
If you believe that the verbal apology wasn’t enough, follow up with a hand-written apology or card.
A sincere apology has three parts:
I was at fault.
What can I do to make it right?
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Jesus: Truly great people practice loving etiquette, because they know the value of esteeming others better than themselves. Great people elevate others, they take time for others, and they’re willing to humble themselves in order to show others that they are important, respected, and worthy of consideration.
If your manners and etiquette are lacking, ask Me to empower you with the keys of love and humility. They will help you to know what is the loving thing to do in each situation, and they will empower you with the humility to show that love through your actions and gestures of kindness.