Saturday, April 24, 2010

Cup of Tea & Courtesy

Facing reality often precedes our taking necessary action. As difficult as it was for me to admit this privately, I do so now publicly: Common courtesy is not common. Based on the daily personal interactions both witnessed and shared, I wonder if we as a society have collectively decided that courtesy is now optional.

Courtesy Defined

By its definition, courtesy is "a respectful or considerate act or expression" (please see Courtesy then has very little to do with whether one agrees with or even likes another individual. It represents a conscious decision to treat someone else as most of us seek to be treated. Namely, we most seek to be:

> Respected
> Valued
> Loved

Earlier this week I attended a lecture where the speaker said that he's noticing how the Internet, with its accompanying veil of anonymity, emboldens us to become more insulting and rude. Contemplating this, I grow chilled at the thought of perhaps becoming a tech-savvy interpersonal barbarian. Firm, decisive action is vital.

With Sincere Apologies

As humans, we all make mistakes. An apology is the way we express our remorse, we take responsibility for our "off speech", and we counteract the insults and/or injuries we've caused others. Even though the apology does not erase the event itself, an apology acknowledges that the event occurred.

In my opinion, someone offering no apology is better than one tossing out an insincere one. Regardless of the recipient's acceptance or rejection, people can easily distinguish the difference between the two. A sincere apology starts the healing process. In contrast, an insincere apology delivers another blow to an already open wound.

Tea & Courtesy

Growing up, I along with other children received etiquette instruction via attending tea parties. The adults and relatives who chaperoned us were very strict about us children quickly making amends over any given offense, i.e. "say you're sorry".

Indeed, I confess to having had an adult sometimes make me say that I was sorry. As a child, I reasoned that a) it was wrong to lie and b) two wrongs don't make a right. The response to this precocious display of rationale? Apologize and learn how to treat everyone courteously.

Children are excusable because they are immature. Adults set the example for them to follow. So, may every cup of tea strengthen our collective resolve to be courteous only under these conditions:

> At all times
> To all people
> Under all circumstances

Here's a tea toast: To the future!

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