Friday, January 9, 2009

Time for class

Like the great author Lynne Truss, I've had enough of "the utter bloody rudeness of the world today" and this blog is a rallying cry for those of us who still believe in manners, customer service and the little niceties in life. I don't need to tell you that civility is at an all-time low in our society. Frantic schedules leave little time for common courtesy. E-mail communications lack the context, nuances and human aspect necessary for polite conversation. And devices that keep us plugged-in and tuned out encourage anti-social behaviour.

Yet, in spite of, or perhaps because of, the rise in electronic communications, it has never been more important to cultivate a sense of civility in life - to set yourself apart from the competition in business and just because it's the right thing to do in life. The purpose of etiquette is to make other people feel comfortable. Sounds easy right? In a recent U.S. survey, 79 per cent of adults said lack of courtesy was a serious problem yet, as we all know, it's not just the other 21 per cent that are behaving disrespectfully. Are we quick to judge others but slow to recognize our own etiquette faux pas? Are our manners conditional on the reaction of the beneficiary (e.g. if we hold the door open for someone and they show no gratitude, do we retaliate in kind?).

Maybe the rules of engagement have just become so muddled recently we don't know how to behave with decorum any more...even if we want to. In this blog, I hope to make a case for grace in all walks of life - business, social, politics, dining, dating - and my real job, which is running a public relations agency.

Hope you'll visit often.

1 comment:

  1. I like to tell people that good manners are really the very basics of clever manipulation, an innate skill evident even in the smallest children. Watch how toddlers do adorable things like smile big and say "Hi" when you've just asked them to stop something they shouldn't be doing! They do it because they much prefer that other reaction from you, the one where you melt and smile because they're soooooo cute. Instinct.

    Politeness is a method of getting what you want or need in the most pleasant way. It makes people WANT to help, makes people appreciate being involved. I don't mean to make it sound calculating. It's another perspective.

    Besides, people can tell the difference between authenticity and calculation. If polite and well-mannered is WHO you are, it's always authentic. And always a pleasure.

    I love that you've taken this stand. It needs support.