Has it become "okay" to be rude? Is the trend of self-focus gotten us to the point that we rarely even acknowledge the people around us? Smart phones and other gadgets have our attention, and since the power to connect with the whole world is in our hands we are missing the human engagement that is all around us.
I am not talking about blatant in your face nasty (that should never be acceptable), yet there seems to be less common courtesy and fewer smiles between people in our daily interactions. While "rude" is a word that makes many nervous, I think it is the right word. Most people do not see their own actions as "rude".... but in a world where being over-extended and busy is a badge of honor, few people take the time to notice others (much less give them a few seconds of polite attention).
If you watch closely throughout your day you will see what I mean. People seem more detached in recent years. It is in the little things where etiquette seems to be abandoned. I am not blaming the internet, social media and the mobile technology, but there is clearly a lack of intention lately to the social manners.
At Starbucks this morning I watched the line of people in front of me. Only one woman said "Thank You" to the person who was serving the drinks to the waiting customers. Now, one could argue that in the transaction of six dollar cups of coffee one does not need to be gracious to the baristas, but one out of eight people seemed out of wack.
Last week at a hotel when the elevator doors opened two young women who were staring at their phones walked into the lift without waiting for others to exit. Those of us getting off had to push past, and once the doors closed we all looked at each other in amazement. No recognition that other people had been present.
And don't get me started about "Thank You Notes", or at least saying "Thank You" to people who have done you a favor or sent you a gift. Too many people just go on with their lives without showing any gratitude, and if questioned about it they look at you like you are from Mars. Gratitude is not something you should ever ignore.
In a world where common courtesy seems to be in short supply, if you want to stand out and find more success in your human-to-human relationships it is easier than ever to get noticed by simply not being "rude". Being polite and making others feel special will allow you to win more often in the game of life.
Go back to the basics of social etiquette and people will be impressed by your actions. It takes no extra time to be polite, and if you do this regularly you will develop an epic reputation for how you treat others. It is sad that being kind to others has become a way to stand out in the crowd, but those who practice being nice, and avoid being rude, will find more success.
I often speak to groups about "Cooperative Significance". We all want to make a contribution and be significant at work, home, and in our communities. But you cannot decide for others that you are significant, they make that determination. To be significant you begin by making others feel they matter (as this will cause them to notice you). One way to do this is to be nice to them and help them feel good about the things they are accomplishing in their world.
Five Tips To Being Kind
1. Be observant. Many people go about their day feeling invisible, as too few are noticing others actions. Take the time to watch the people around you and acknowledge their contributions. You should do this at home, around the office, or anywhere you go. Make it a habit to be aware of others.
2. Say something nice. Everyone is so busy that we rarely say anything to the people around us, and this is amplified when dealing with strangers in transnational situations (the coffee shop, elevator, car wash, etc...). When you are interacting with someone look them in the eye and say "please", "thank you", etc... Maybe add in a compliment about their work product, their appearance, or something else they are doing well that makes them stand out.
3. Look up from your phone. Get beyond thinking that important things are happening constantly in your email or you Instagram feed. Put the phone down and be present with the other people. When you are talking to someone one-to-one do not put your eyes on your phone during that conversation. Nobody appreciates being ingnored. We call it rude when other do this, but when we do it ourselves we call it "multi-tasking". Sorry, it is rude.
4. RSVP and show up on time. Somewhere along the line we forgot that we are supposed to respond to invitations and then do what we said we were going to do. Respect other people's time. Be militant about your schedule and show up when you say you will attend.
5. Make gratitude your secret weapon. When someone gives you a gift or does you a favor, make sure you thank them in a proper manner. A text that reads "THX" may or may not be the right answer. Know this: No matter what you do, if you take a shortcut to show gratitude the other person will know it.
Being rude or aloof should not be acceptable in the course of your day. It takes no more time to be polite, attentive and aware. Those who embrace these small actions will have more wins in the long run.
Have A Great Day