Kirsti and I find few things more swoon-worthy than good manners and common courtesy, but it often seems that people today think minding their Ps and Qs means checking their phones and maintaining their quarrels. In 1986, a group of concerned citizens in England made similar observations about the lack of civility they were witnessing around them and formed The Polite Society (since changed to the National Campaign for Courtesy) with the goal of bringing awareness to the “behavioural problems of the nation.” To that end, they established a National Day of Courtesy on the first Friday in October.
Although there is a National Common Courtesy Day each March 21st in the U.S., Kirsti and I believe this is an issue worthy of repeated acknowledgement, so we encourage our own Society members to celebrate civility, praise politeness, memorialize manners, and commemorate courtesy today—and every day—in the following ways:
- Remember to say “please” and “thank you.” This is Courtesy 101, but you’d be surprised how often these words are left unsaid.
- Write thank-you notes—even if only by email or text—after receiving gifts and attending parties, or for any reason at all. I like to put notes on the doorsteps of houses in my neighborhood that are beautifully decorated for the holidays to let them know how much I enjoy their displays. People love to be appreciated!
- Ease up on the pedal when another driver wants to merge. It’s the journey, not the domination.
- Step outside of a store or restaurant to take a phone call if you must. You’re louder than you think. Really.
- RSVP by the date on the invitation. Someone thought you were special enough to include on their guest list. Don’t make them hunt you down for a response.
- Be on time. This is a huge one for Kirsti and me. To quote Vince Lombardi, “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late.” Give yourself extra time to account for unexpected delays.
- Honor your commitments. I’ve grudgingly attended many events that I wanted to back out of at the last minute, only to end up having a wonderful time. People may have declined other offers, purchased food and drink, or cleaned their homes in anticipation of your arrival, so unless an actual emergency arises, don’t make excuses—just go!
- Respond to emails, texts, and voicemails in a timely manner. We all get busy, but it only takes a minute to write or say, “I’m swamped at the moment, but I received your message and will respond as soon as I’m able.” When you do respond, make sure to address each point in the original message. Nothing wastes more time than going back and forth.
- Save your comments until the end of the movie. Keeping a running commentary is the filmmaker’s job for the DVD extras—not yours.
- Hold doors for people. It may turn into a clown car situation, but you might restore someone’s faith in humanity and set an example for others at the same time.
This list is by no means comprehensive, but it’s a beginning. And while we’ve all slipped up from time to time, making a consistent effort to be courteous is what gives you a reputation as Someone Who Often Observes Niceties.
With the current atmosphere in our country, shining a spotlight on civility has never been more important, so now that you have your day in courtesy, spread the word and do your part to polite up the world!
Stuff Worthy Of Our Notice™ in this post:
National Campaign for Courtesy
4 thoughts on “Have Your Day in Courtesy”
As a Society member, I politely am in accord with everything you wrote. However, I do take issue with the Vince Lombardi quote, “If you’re early you are on time … ” Hairdressers, manicurists, dentists and other professionals neither appreciate nor honor early arrivals … And it embarrasses hostesses who have scheduled chores down to the last minutes before “show time” to be interrupted
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Thanks for your input, Stephanie. That quote refers to situations like taking a yoga class or going to the movies. If yoga starts at 5:30 and you walk in the door at 5:30, you’re late. It takes time to sign in, set up your mat, and perhaps change your clothes or use the restroom before class. You are only on time if you have done those things and are settled on your mat when class begins, which means arriving 5-10 minutes early. If the movie starts at 7:00 and you walk in the theater at 7:00, you still need to find a seat in the dark, possibly disrupting other moviegoers and blocking their view of the screen as you make your way down the row.
I also take it to mean leaving yourself a cushion of time to account for traffic or other delays. I often arrive at my destination early, but if I’m there for a scheduled appointment or a party, I might run a quick errand in the area to kill some time, or simply wait in my car and read a book. With smartphones providing a window on the world, nobody should lack for entertainment to while away a few minutes if they are early. 🙂
This was a wonderful message for our current society. I am constantly amazed by the lack of manners and courtesy people display. This is a much needed reminder of polite behavior which used to be taken for granted. There was just no other way to be. This may be a news flash for the current generation. Thanks for reminding us all. Courtesy makes for a better world.
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Thank you, Toni. 🙂