This Between the Lines article is being written primarily at the request of my readers. Many have mentioned to me the increasing prevalence of improper, inappropriate, and often just downright rude behaviors. This may be somewhat similar to an entry made back in 2009 entitled That’s So Rude. Unfortunately, it appears the trend is ‘up’ for these newly accepted behaviors.

The purpose of this article is to raise awareness around behaviors that many of us may realize we are guilty of; and yet, these behaviors have become somewhat commonplace and acceptable because ‘everyone is doing it’ or a more frequently heard excuse on the other end of the spectrum is ‘no one does that anymore – so why should I?’  Below is a short list of those improprieties that we all have the opportunity to rein in and change the trajectory of our society.

  • Say thank you for any nice gesture that is done for you, to you, or for a cause in which you support. I am continually amazed at how lax we have become to acknowledge niceties. This may be an introduction, a dinner, a donation in your name, letting you go in front of a person standing in line, rearranging a meeting so you can attend, or as simple as responding to an email. I am partial to a verbal thank you, and thoughtful, hand written notes. Yet, when time is short? At least send an email.
  • Pay attention. Listen and be respectful to others when they are speaking. Even if you don’t agree with them, being dismissive in gesture or even verbally is not necessary. Stop interrupting. Put down your Blackberry or iPhone. I am appalled at how many will literally check email and/or pick up phone calls without even an ‘excuse me’ while in a meeting, at lunch, or having coffee with another person. Turn off the TV! I am equally appalled at when visiting a sick friend or paying a social visit to someone, they will tell you ‘just a minute, my show is almost over.’ Are you kidding me? When someone has been generous and thoughtful enough to visit, why wouldn’t we meet them graciously and extend hospitality to them? (And yes, the TV incident really did happen to me.)
  • Be on time. Being perpetually late, as mentioned in A Fine Line earlier this week, is just plain rude. You wouldn’t be late for the President of the United States or the Queen of England, in all likelihood; so why be late for your friends, your clients, or prospective clients? Plan ahead. If you are going to be late, call far enough in advance so that the other party can respond appropriately.  Calling, once they are there, may ease your conscience, yet it does nothing to help the situation.
  • RSVP. When asked to an event RSVP. Don’t no show. Don’t call the day of the event to say ‘you are coming’ when it is a dinner party. Yes, that happened to me when hosting a large dinner party this spring, and I had 22 – yes, 11 couples – call the day of the event to tell me they had ‘decided to come.’ Rude, rude, rude.
  • Give positive feedback, compliments, and encouragement freely, sincerely, and often. I have been shocked of late to hear individuals say: “That is just not me. I don’t hand out compliments, even when the person may deserve them” or “It’s their job. I don’t have to tell them they are good at it; it is expected.” That is simply rubbish. There is nothing to lose by telling someone they are doing a nice job, that they look nice, or to keep up the good work.  It creates a positive energy amongst each other. If the feedback is genuine and sincere, it is positive on all fronts. 
  • Be nice to wait staff and treat them the way you would want to be treated. Tip generously. I was with an individual not too long ago who was incredibly rude to a waiter. The waiter was not the best I had ever experienced; and yet, there was nothing – nothing – to be gained by being rude, short, and abrupt. When a waiter has done a nice job, what prevents individuals from tipping at least the 15-20%?

Our children and future generations will follow our lead; and at this point, the polite decorum of years past is rapidly disintegrating. I, along with many of my clients and readers, do not want this to happen. Please weigh in on this! Did I forget an impropriety which is your own personal pet peeve? Please share! We can hold ourselves accountable to change the direction of society and reinstate and instill the values of being polite, thoughtful, considerate, and respectful to one another.

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