Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What Would Your Mother Say?

As a parent, I believe that I have the responsibility to raise my children in a way that will help them become gracious, productive adults. If they can act civil in public in the mean time, that would be a bonus. One thing that I try to teach them, a lesson I learned early in life, is that you will get further by being nice. A smile and a please or thank-you work wonders in a world that has forgotten what manners are. With that in mind, I am constantly left scratching my head as I interact with the general public who, for the most part, have all but forgotten their manners.

Now as a parent, I am also keenly aware that how my children act reflects directly on me. I would like to let everyone know right now that I actually do teach them manners. I teach them to be polite, to hold the door for others, keep their voices down in public and try to treat others with kindness. Of course, they are 10 and 12 year old boys who see the world as a game where they have to win at all costs - so my lessons usually fall on deaf ears. (Picture me trying to advice my sons to watch where they are going as they run thru the store to be the first one in line.) So I guess my hope is that by the time they reach adulthood, all of my advice will have finally sunken in. They are still kids after all; I expect more from adults.

Most of our mothers tried to raise us right and in turn we do the same for our children. But at some point our children turn into adults and then it's up to them to make the right decisions and treat others properly.

By trade I am in sales. I make a lot of calls and hear a lot of nos. I don't usually take it personally and most times I simply move on because the next person I talk to could say yes. By nature (and probably nurture), I am a polite person so I still smile and say thank you anyway. I cannot say however, that everyone on the other end of the phone does the same. Now I get that I am interrupting your day, and I also get that you did not ask me to call you. But that does not mean that you need to be rude to me. I had a lady yesterday yell at me for calling her so much. Now you should know that I had never talked to her before and had only left voicemails. I sent her one email as well. She never called me back or even took 2 seconds to reply to my email to tell me she wasn't interested. Didn't I know how busy she was? So I politely apologized and hung up. Apparently, she was having a really bad day because she actually took the time to call me back (had she actually written down my phone number?) and yell at me some more. Again, I said I was sorry (cause I wasn't sure what else I could do at this point) and hung up again. Wow! My first thought was, "What would your mother say?"

Every day I come across people who couldn't care less about others. They act as if they are the most important person in the world and everyone should bow down to them. They flip you off when driving, cause you got in the way. They cut in front of you in line at Starbucks. And god forbid you should be waiting for their parking spot. When did this all begin? What happened to common courtesy? Imagine a world where the sun is always shining, everyone is always smiling and saying to each other, "no, you go ahead." Would that be so bad?

Okay, so I know that there are days when its raining and cold, where someone cut you off, your clothes are wet and you are late for work. That is reality. But there is a saying that we can't control what happens all the time, but we can control how we react to it. I choose to be polite, even when I feel like screaming because it is the right thing to do. It makes me feel better and hopefully makes whoever I interact with feel better as well. I am not perfect, and I know there are times I could be nicer (especially to my own family), but I do try as often as I can. If more people tried, even once a day, imagine what a world it would be.

2 comments:

  1. I also believe that we now mostly live in a world devoid of what were once common manners, although I've found that through my frequent travels throughout the states that this tends to be somewhat regional, as different cities and states tend to be more polite or rude than others. For instance, I think you're less likely to have somebody standing behind you in a line sneeze on the back of your neck because they didn't cover their mouth in a city like Dallas TX or Santa Barbara CA than you may in Miami FL (sorry Miami, but manors are not your strong suit).

    In the city where I currently live people tend to congregate in doorways, drive like maniacs, try to get into the elevator before letting people out, and my favorite - getting to the top of the escalator, stepping off, and just standing there looking around as if there is nobody in the world there but them, and I believe that this is what the turn towards a general rudeness is about: selfishness, or a general attitude that everything is about one's own self while being able to tune out the rest of the human race.

    Although community has been more of a focus as of late, I am concerned that for many years there has been such a focus on personal greed, both in terms of general economics, within the lyrics of popular music and elsewhere, that a major side effect has been an overall lack of respect for other people and a loss of manors.

    The good news is that you are not alone, and there are many of us trying to counter this on a daily basis, and this can only be done by leading by example and through mentoring within the schools. Getting frustrated will only bring us down to their level, so you've got to try to suck it up and kill them with kindness, otherwise I fear we'll all be leading extremely frustrated lives going forward.

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