The importance of courtesy

Created date

August 25th, 2014

September is National Courtesy Month. The word comes from Old French, which described the rules that nobles had to follow when they gathered together, especially when in the presence of the king. In this country, we fought off the king of England and his tyrannical rule. That rebellious spirit continues to thrive in our society; sometimes, we forget our manners. 

Courtesy isn’t about knowing when to say please and thank you. Those little words can easily be bandied about without having much meaning. The manners I’m talking about are not based on formal rules but rather on caring about the people around you. I don’t want a man to hold the door for me just because I’m a woman; instead, I want anyone significantly younger than my 86 years to hold the door for me out of concern that maybe I’ll have difficulty opening it myself. In other words, I want people to think about what they are doing rather than be self-involved, which these days—with so many young people having eyes only for the electronic device in their hands—is becoming the norm.

Proactive courtesy

If you want to effectively spread courtesy this September, make sure to do it in a courteous way. If all you do is complain to your grandchildren and great-grandchildren about their lack of manners, when all they’re doing is treating you the way they treat their friends, then nothing positive will happen. But let’s say you’re serving everyone soup and your grandson has his head down looking at his phone. My advice is not to serve him any. At some point he’ll look up, notice his empty soup bowl, and ask “Hey, what about me?” Then you can say, “I took the time to prepare this soup and in return I expect the courtesy of you being fully present at the dinner table.” He’ll get the message.

Use teachable moments like the example above to demonstrate what true courtesy is. If you start this September, hopefully, you’ll start noticing the results before the next National Courtesy Month rolls around!