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Sporadic photos and notes from a Psyche-midwife, cheerleader, anthropologist--aka clinical social worker in therapy practice. Photos are usually mine except for those of historical events/famous people. Music relevant to the daily topic is often included in a web video embedded below the blog. Click on highlighted links in the copy to get to source or supplemental material. For contact information, see my website @ janasvoboda.com or click on the button to the right below. Join in the conversation.

Monday, January 13, 2020

January 14th Challenge: Mind Your Manners

The last few years have taken their toll on common courtesy.  A nasty sort of partisanship has entered our politics, and name-calling and the type of abhorrent views one knew existed but thought rare fill social media comments. There's an encouragement to distrust and a meanness to discourse. Meanwhile, regular old manners seem to be slipping away-- the use of please and thank you, greeting people as you pass, small talk and smiling.

If you've been doing the tiny resolutions, you've been working on being complaint-free (or at least mindfully reducing our griping).  Let's make that easier by being some of the change we want to see.  For today's challenge, try at least a few of these:

1)  Learn people's names, and use them.  Especially those of people you see often but may not know-- the security guard, the guy at the market you always visit, the admin assistant down the hall at work, the neighbor in the apartment next to you.

2)  Use your politeness words.  Please, thank you, excuse me, I'm sorry, I appreciate that.

3)  When you are talking with someone, give them some reasonable eye contact.  Put the phone away. 

4)  Make a little small talk.  With the cashier, the neighbor, the coworker.  It's not trivial.  When we comment on the weather, the big game, or any other common occurrence we are communicating that we see each other, that we are involved in a common experience.  If the other person doesn't want to engage, we should be able to tell.  (If you can't, learn about and practice reading body language).

5) Offer help when you see someone struggling, if you feel safe and are able.  If someone can't start their car, help them jump it or offer to call someone for them if they don't have a phone.  If someone has their arms full or is injured or frail or with children, hold the door.  As a matter of fact, hold the door for anyone right behind you.

6)  When you talk to someone, be mindful not to monologue and/or only talk about yourself. Ask after them.  Show interest in what they say.  Ask follow-up questions.  Practice the volley:  in these days of tweeting and posting, we forget that true conversation is two-way.

7)  Greet people when you see them.  Smile if you can.

8)  Be gracious.  Graciousness is not about being a martyr; it's about recognizing that other people have strong preferences, insecurities, and feelings just as we do and both parties count in a situation.  Sometimes others' needs outweigh yours, sometimes it's equal, and sometimes yours take precedence. Even or especially in the latter case, we can make that known graciously.  Examples for this:  offer your seat on the bus or at the standing-room-only event to someone who may need it more.  Don't take the last doughnut if you've had one and others haven't gotten to them yet.  Refill the coffeepot if you drink the last cup, replace the toilet paper, pick up after yourself in the common spaces at work, etc.

9) Show appreciation to others when they are kind/gracious/patient/trying hard.  Sometimes that just takes a smile.

10) Be the One Less Asshole in the room.  If someone is losing it, being a jerk, or has no manners, that doesn't justify your doing the same.  If you hold it together with grace and patience, that just means now there is one less possible jerk in the situation.

I bet you have some other ideas.  I'd like to hear them.  We'll do a day of Random Acts of Kindness later, so save those-- but do send ideas about waylaid manners we can try and remember. 

See you tomorrow,

1 comment:

David M. said...

Like cool water in a desert. Ethics and manners rock.

There's a really distilled version of the Six Perfections and the 'manners' perfection is shown at its root:

Not to intend is liberality. Not to live with differences is ethics and manners and not to create them is patience. Neither to accept nor reject is strenuousness. Not to be attached is meditative concentration. Non-discursiveness is awareness arising from wisdom.