Saturday, September 22, 2007

Where are your manners?

It might look like I'm piggybacking on Janet's post about holding the door open, but I've actually had this one in the back of my mind for a while now :-)

It seems like these days the use of simple manners, or even common courtesy is more a rarity, than the norm. Folks are in such a terrible "hurry", that they often "forget" how to be polite. And don't even expect to be let in, when we're all stopped in traffic, even if you have the "right-of-way". That is bound to inconvenience someone else, so forget about it!

So what has happened to our society? When did we become so "me, me, me"? Even the small act of saying, "You're welcome" when someone says, "Thank you", has seemed to disappear from our vocabulary.

To prove this point, a local radio station recently did an experiment to see what kind of response they would get when they said, "Thank you". They called 10 local businesses, asked where they were located, and then pointedly and cheerfully said, "Thank you." Only 4 of the 10 responded by saying, "You're welcome". The most popular response was, "Uh huh", with "No problem" and "thanks" close behind. The worst were a couple of the businesses that simply hung up without even saying goodbye! Now that's customer service.

Here's a challenge: In your conversations in the next few weeks, listen to what you say, and the others around you, when someone says, "Thanks". I think you'll be amazed at how absent "You're welcome" is...

All for bringing "You're welcome" back,


Melinda said...

Wow! I really like this subject. It is close to my heart.

One of the things that I miss about being a mom of young children is that strangers would have a reason to smile and make some sort of comment, like, "What a darling child.", or "Such a nice smile he has. How old is he?" Conversations, albeit brief ones, would ensue. Children served as conversational icebreakers. A few young moms now warn me that having a stranger make a comment to them, when they are with their young children, is now considered alarming. Wow. I have been scaring people, when I was just trying to show interest and be friendly.

Another thing that I have noticed is a change in is neighborly etiquette. We have lived in the same home for a couple decades. I am often out front doing yard work. I have always verbally greeted those that I know and at least smiled and nodded to those going past. I was taught to always acknowledge another person's presence with at least a nod. I only rarely get a response any more. Most avert eye contact altogether. How shifty can a round, middle=aged, smiling woman in garden gloves look?!

When neighbors move in, I traditionally go over and introduce myself and leave our house # and contact info taped to some sort of wrapped baked good with them. Even after that, I don't so much as get a head nod of greeting and certainly not a "Thank you!" for the baked good.

The real clincher for me is the ironic display of behavior observed in this situation: we live next to a park where a lot of micro soccer games are played. Panicked parents of toddlers often knock on our door asking to let their child use our bathroom. Remembering the delicacy of the potty training period myself, I am more than glad to accommodate them. As I try to make small talk with the parent, while Toddler is in the bathroom, the parent stays very protective about their anonymity, and usually will not divulge what neighborhood they live in or share their first name, when I introduce myself. Even questions like. Is this your daughter's first year playing a sport?" goes unanswered. I am not asking for a social security number, I am just trying to make polite conversation, while they are in MY home!

Kristin said...

Thanks for your wonderful addition, Melinda!

I especially agree with the sadness about the lack of neighborly interaction part. My husband swears it's a Pacific NW thing, as not all neighborhoods across the USA are like our neck of the woods. He frequently mentions how opposite the Midwest is, and how people go out of their way there to talk to their neighbors, or share a nice cool drink on the porch with them--things that would almost be considered foreign here.

Welcome to My Humble Blog said...

I's the Pacific NW thing.

Interestingly a lot of people have said people here are 'friendly'. If I may play with semantics a little bit, in my opinion, people are 'courteous' and even make small chit chats while sitting next to you in a restaurant, but as far as getting beyond the outer circle and into the deeper and establishing some kind of meaningful relationship, it's very tough.

It used to bug me a lot (now just a little) that people here always say "How are you", without even stopping when they walk or when you start talking they give you the look like "Ok, I didn't really mean was more like a 'hi'.."

I have been living here for the past 15 years and I used to think this kind of things only happened to me (of course that's not true)...interestingly a lot of people are saying the same thing.

Man I can go on and on about these :)

Kristin said...

Thanks for your $0.02 Yonas!

Maybe with you, me & Melinda we can start changing how people interact with each other--genuine vs "because society says I should" :-)

It just took one brave woman that refused to move to the back of the bus...