You’re waiting at airport security, and someone cuts to the front of the line. You’re at the movies, and the people next to you are talking loudly. You’re in a meeting, and your colleagues are working on their smartphones. I’m sure you’ve witnessed some of these scenarios, and perhaps you’ve even been the one checking your smartphone while the boss is talking.
So what’s the big deal? Shouldn’t we all have the capability of tolerating each other’s minor moments of disrespect? Absolutely. However, as you look around the world today, it sometimes seems as if inconsiderate behavior has become the norm rather than the exception.
Civility doesn’t have to fade from our experience. We all have a right to exercise courteous behavior, and with busy holiday travel and shopping around the corner, now is a great time to remember the importance of expressing graciousness. Here are four ways we can apply some of the wisdom from the past to our modern day interactions.
Words of Wisdom #1:
George Washington, the first President of the United States, advised:
“Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.”
Application: You’re not alone. When you’re at the airport, getting on an elevator, or getting off the subway, be aware of the people around you. Try to keep lines moving forward, and consider smiling at people.
Words of Wisdom #2:
Albert Einstein, a Nobel prize winning theoretical physicist, noted:
“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”
Application: You know what’s coming – put the personal computing devices (smartphones, iPads, tablets, etc.) aside. Try giving all of your focus to the people that you’re with, or if you’re walking down the street, pay attention to your surroundings. You’ll find this safer and much more friendly.
Words of Wisdom #3:
Samuel Johnson, an 18th century writer, literary critic and lexicographer, observed:
“When once the forms of civility are violated, there remains little hope of return to kindness or decency.”
Application: Media often portray our society as polarized, dramatic and sometimes downright rude. This type of content earns high ratings and attention, but it’s not appreciated when we encounter it in real life. Try to be a role model for others by conducting yourself with grace and thoughtfulness. You can disagree with someone and still be polite.
Words of Wisdom #4:
Amelia Barr, a British novelist who wrote 63 books after age 50, remarked:
“Kindness is always fashionable.”
Application: It’s been said that this is the “Age of Entitlement.” Entitlement is not necessarily a bad thing. However, individuals shouldn’t demand and expect priority treatment simply because they’re breathing. The antidote to entitlement is the Golden Rule—treating other people the way you would like to be treated.
Imagine how the niceness level of the world would improve if we each made an effort to be a little more compassionate, a little more thoughtful of our neighbor, and a little less selfish in our actions. We don’t all have to become Mother Teresa, but we can practice civility. ∞
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