LAST week in “Across the Aisle,” Senator Frank Blas Jr. spoke of the gifts of time and attention. Today, I speak of the gifts of respect and manners.
As the holiday season is upon us, let us give timeless gifts which don’t cost a cent. They do, however, require effort. And, for some folks, they require an actual lesson.
Whoever gets to the door first opens it – and keeps it open. While some standards have shifted – it’s fine when a gal opens a door – some manners remain constant. Doors shall always be opened for our seniors.
Everyday conversation requires manners. Saying “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me” should be modeled. When someone is speaking, listen and wait your turn. Cover your mouth when you sneeze. Respect personal space.
In traffic, there are manners. Any island person will tell you, we don’t lean on horns. We wait patiently until the person realizes the light turned green. A light beep is appreciated by those who seem preoccupied.
With the snarling road construction, the need for road courtesy is heightened. Let the other person merge. Do not make your own lane. Keep to the speed limit. Keep your distance – those who tailgate are simply asking for a hard brake.
There are also parking manners. While most slots are too narrow for our trucks and SUVs, we need to park between two yellow lines – and not hog two parking slots. Of course, there remains the dilemma of squeezing ourselves, and our stuff, through parked inches of space.
Amusing to some, but not to most.
In the electronic mail world, there are manners. Acknowledge a message. Respond if expected to. Forward with thought – blind copying can be risky. Make sure you click on the correct recipient. Messages sent to the wrong person can result in interesting situations – some funny, and some not-so-funny.
Manners remain constant on the phone. Well, actually, we would like manners to be the norm – many of us hang up when we get a recording. But if you get a live person, being clear and calm helps get the needed person or information. Phone calls during a meeting are wrong, and phone rings during a meeting are just as rude.
When someone enters a room, greet them. If you greet one, you greet all. It doesn’t matter if you know them – a simple nod and smile respectfully acknowledges the presence of that person.
Manners mean honesty and sincerity. Don’t say you will when you can’t. And do what you say you will.
Manners and respect should be color blind, culture-free, ageless, and person-centered. How we want to be treated is exactly how we should treat others.
This past week, we spent much time on bullying, human rights and decolonization, and social service issues. Foundational to addressing these issues are time, attention, respect and manners. These are such basic behaviors that – if from the very beginning and continuously practiced – can curtail potentially explosive conduct.
Let us work during a peaceful, enjoyable holiday by giving the priceless gifts of time, attention, respect and manners – to each and all.