Monday, December 12, 2005

Manners and Society

I just picked up Lynne Truss' new book "Talk to the Hand" and it is brilliant. She talks all about why we seem to be cultivating a culture of rudeness and how that is affecting society. Not only is it dead on but it is also hilarious. I see so much of my own experience in it. This includes both times when people have been rude to me and when I have been rude to others.

Yesterday, I was leaving the mall with my arms full of bags and packages and I stopped to hold the door for a woman coming into the mall. She pushed past me and went through the door without even acknowledging me. I was furious! Then, I went home and read a whole chapter in Truss' book about how incidents like that can make us feel and I realized that is exactly how I felt. She points out that typically we don't have much of a reaction to good manners because we expect it. When everything goes according to our expectations, we just go on with our lives. But when people are rude, it throws everything out of whack. We feel hurt and angry and tend to stew about the offense for a long time.

I try and make an effort to be as polite as possible using "please" and "thank you" as much as I can. But I also get pulled into rudeness as well. I have been known to experience some road rage and I can give less than adequate customer service when I am tired and cranky at work. But I do believe that this little social niceties can make a big difference. I even bought an Emily Post book recently to review the basics of good manners. (although I was surprise and overwhelmed by how much was covered) Maybe we should all just start with "please" and "thank you" and see how it goes.

I challenge everyone (including myself) to make a real effort over the holidays to be polite and mannerly towards other people and see what happens. Maybe it will make all of our holidays just a little bit better.

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