Incentives to be kinder

Kanye West opening a car door for Kim Kardashian

By Ceci Creissen

They don’t hold the door open for you, they don’t say thank you when you hold it open for them, and you start to wonder if they noticed you at all. Spaciness is often an excuse for impoliteness, but it’s an invalid one.

You’re supposed to be polite to anyone and everyone, not just the people you want to impress. Civil, a synonym of polite, relates to the idea that civilizations are made up of citizens: people who are civil to their counterparts.

Emily Post, an American author known for her work about manners once said, “manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”

Post is right in that esoteric knowledge is not required to be polite. All one needs to do is be aware of his or her surroundings. The reason why our grandparents claim that the millennial generation has thrown manners out the window is because we have; we do the bare minimum. There is more to manners than addressing adults with Mr. and Mrs., or saying please and thank you. Having manners requires being thoughtful, or in other words, noticing the needs of others. Modern technology and culture has, in many ways, made it easier to get away with being rude.

The internet allows its users to act impulsively on their emotions, and therefore selfishly. Instead of prompting civil discussion, platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are full of insults back and forth between two people who have never met. Furthermore, most usual formalities are not adhered to while online, thus, when users do have face-to-face interactions, manners don’t come naturally. We are used to having interactions that are short and sweet, which makes being polite that much harder.

Hand-writing a thank you note takes more time than emailing one, holding the door open for someone ten steps behind you requires you to wait, and doing the dishes after dinner means giving up time you could spend on homework, but being nice to people is not a waste of time. Being nice will earn you the respect of others, and therefore open opportunities. When someone is nice to you first, you let your guard down and you automatically want to be nice towards them as well. This is essentially how people form relationships, by fostering a mutual sense of respect. If you show your teachers, parents, alumni interviewer, or job interviewer respect, they will go out of their way to show you respect. They’ll offer to help you on an assignment, they’ll buy that present you really want, they’ll write you a stellar recommendation, and they’ll consider you for the job.

 

Photo courtesy of Daily Mail

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