“The best portion of a good man’s life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.” – William Wordsworth
Rarely do I write about the decay of our social niceties, but more and more I’m noticing that the world seems to be breaking the rules of etiquette that were ingrained in our heads as children. In 2011, we’ve come a long way –we can connect with people all around the world, we use science for the good of our communities, and we have become a lot more kindhearted and accepting of those different from us (although we still could stand to improve in that arena!).
However, perhaps in our mad rush to do as much as we can in as little time as possible, we have sacrificed some of the laws of proper decorum. Sometimes it hurts to see how much we lose in exchange for efficiency.
I’m not asking everyone to enroll in finishing school or sign up for Cotillion, but if we could each take a step back, maybe we could learn to conduct ourselves in a better way. Next time you’re out somewhere: say please and thank you. Hold the door open for someone. Clean up after yourself. Pay genuine compliments. Be gracious when you receive a compliment. Make time to be polite and friendly, especially to those serving you. Don’t mumble (unless you are talking to your parents and trying to annoy them). When a guest in someone’s home, offer to help your hostess in the kitchen; even if she insists that you should just sit down and make yourself comfortable, she will appreciate the gesture. Don’t leave unwanted clothes in the fitting room. Try to learn the other person’s name and say it when appropriate (as Dale Carnegie once said, the most beautiful sound is the sound of your own name). Remember the easily-forgotten tidbits about your friends and pull them out every so often, like a favorite sweater that you would hate to wear out. Come prepared and organized when you attend interviews, meetings and other professional events. Smile like you mean it.
The little things really do mean the most, as my friend Kalehli so elegantly puts it on her blog, and so in our quests for world domination, let’s try our best to keep the world of conscientiousness and kindness alive. 🙂