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A Return To Common Courtesy

Last week I heard from a clearly frustrated person in response to my “Rudeness in America” poll:

“I ride public transportation daily. I have seen how rude people have gotten over the past 20-30 years. People have become more ignorant and selfish and have no common sense at all. I ride a crowded train and board at the third stop from the main station of origination. When I got on one day there was a woman in a seat with her big bag/purse on the other seat. She saw people standing and made no effort to move her bag. I get highly annoyed when I have to say “Excuse me” to get a seat. Common sense would tell you to take your bag off the seat and put it in your lap or on the floor so other people can sit. She looked at me and rolled her eyes and took her own sweet time moving her bag, like I imposed on her. I almost told her "Keep the blank, blank seat," but I refrained. On the bus young people sit right up front where the elderly and handicap-designated seats are. I did see one young man offer an elderly person a seat, but that is a very rare occurrence. And men seem to be the biggest offenders. You will see at least five to six men sitting in a row on the train, and not one offers a seat to a woman. These are young men between the ages of 25-35. And they sit there like women are invisible. So yes (and I did answer the survey), people are very rude these days. Common courtesy has gone out the window. People have no manners or compassion from what I have seen. Thanks for letting me vent!”

C. J. P.

Public transportation is one of the flashpoints where rudeness occurs. Interestingly, my own experiences on public transportation have seen both sides of the equation. I’ve ridden the subway in New York City where you might expect to see rudeness rampant and been impressed by strangers holding doors and offering seats (even young men making the offer). I’ll approach a door and have the person ahead of me hold it; yet, another time the door will close in my face.

While rudeness is out there, no doubt, each of us has it within ourselves to help stamp it out. Change starts with making a conscious effort to treat strangers in public places with consideration and respect. That means:

  1. Get out of your cocoon and be aware of the people around you.
  2. Think before you act or react.
  3. Offer a “please” and/or “thank you” along with a smile as ways of acknowledging and showing appreciation to the people around you.

These are simple basic courtesies, but when employed help make daily life a little more pleasant for everyone.

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