Every day, I become ever more increasingly aware of everyone that my life touches on a day to day basis. Recently I was trying to calculate how many lives would be affected each and every day if everyone I said hello to, wished a good day to, or waved into traffic during the rush hour, did the same to everyone their lives touched.
Everyday of this year, I am going to continue to improve my life and the lives of those that I come in contact with. Each and every day, I challenge you to have a positive effect on your life and on the lives of those around you. Kindness is contagious and it can spread through a community as quickly as the flu.
Here are just a few tips on etiquette and gestures that will help you make a difference in your life and the lives of others:
• The best antidote to sarcasm when you are on the receiving end, is a good laugh.
• Being fashionably late is considered rude.
• If you arrive at a door before other people, simply open it, hold it open, let those behind you go first, and watch for all the smiles and thank you's.
• A formal invitation requires a formal handwritten response.
• In countries where food is eaten with the hands, such as Africa and India, it is usually only eaten with the right hand.
• A pilsner, old-fashioned, and snifter are glasses
• How you present yourself to the world is how most will know you.
• The written word, no matter how brief, resonates longer than the spoken word.
• When dining is Asia, it is considered polite to appear reluctant to enter the dining room and the hostess often has to announce dinner several times.
As I talk to people in all walks of life, it becomes apparent that most everyone is worn out with rudeness and the lack of the simple gestures of kindness. Young and old alike want to return back to the good old days, when kindness ran rampant, which was prevalent in our recent past. The mature remember what is was like, and the young realize that there must be a better way. As you talk to your children, talk to them about how to treat others, how to handle difficult situations involving their contemporaries, I guarantee you will find an interest and a willingness to understand that will astonish you. Our children are just waiting for us to start the spark that will launch them into an increased awareness of an interest in removing the uncomfortable feelings of rudeness and replacing them with acts of kindness.
As you become more aware of those around you, ask yourself these questions, how did we get to where we are today? What values are we teaching our children? What values are going to be passed on down the line to our children's children? It is obvious where our children formulate their values, it is from us. They are going to absorb and learn from us, so we must be careful what we purposely and inadvertently teach them. Our children, young and old alike, are the most important resource our country has. Let us teach them about etiquette and encourage them to reintroduce it back into society.
If each of us made a special effort to teach just one child every day something about etiquette, one can only imagine what a difference we can make, what a difference they can make, what a difference you can make.
Cynthia Lett is a speaker, consultant and coach to Fortune 1,000 executives, government agencies in 30 countries, and savvy professionals worldwide. She is the director of The Lett Group and executive director of the International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals. Lett is the author of That’s So Annoying:An Etiquette Expert on the World’s Most Irritating Habits and “Modern Civility: Dealing with Annoying, Angry and Difficult People". She is a recognized media expert whose commentary on workplace/career issues is regularly featured on TV and radio shows, and in newspapers and magazines. For more information, call 301.946.8208 or visit www.lettgroup.com .