Is Courtesy Dead?

OK, I’ll admit that this article, well, it’s a bit of therapy for me. I’m categorizing this under stress management, because that’s what writing this is for me right now!

I’m gonna vent.

Or, to take you back to the Seinfeld episode about “Festivus for the Rest of Us,” it’s time for “the airing of the grievances.”

But something tells me that you can relate.

Which is too bad because I think our world is growing less and less courteous, less and less respectful. So maybe I’m venting for you, too!

“The Event”: Round One!

OK, so I’m at Target and there’s a lady in her really big Suburban blocking the way in to the parking lot. She’s heading the wrong way and she’s totally blocking the entrance to the lot.  Me and a line of cars that is growing behind me, are all blocked from proceeding. She is playing the look down and away and pretend I’m the only one on the planet thing. Like, if she doesn’t make eye contact with any of the people she is inconveniencing, somehow magically she hasn’t done anything wrong.

Finally, I squeak past her (cars honking and she’s still playing blissfully unaware). I have to back up and restart the turn twice to avoid hitting her vehicle, as I do my best to help clear this traffic jam.  Of course, if she’d just moved, the jam would have cleared up.  Turns out, she was parked there waiting for someone to come out of the store.  Someone who appeared to be mid-twenties and very fit and healthy, so I’m thinking the lady could have stayed parked and let this other gal walk a little ways rather than inconveniencing about 7 or 8 cars.

And so as I’m walking through the store of course all this is playing through my mind.  The communication implications, what is happening to our society, questions like, is this because we don’t interface as much now and we are using technology so we’re losing site of the fact that these are other human beings that are out there in those other vehicles?

I think the most telling part of this is that she refused, throughout the whole event, to make eye contact.  My belief is that, if she made eye contact she would have to acknowledge me as a person and in fact, acknowledge that her behavior was wrong.  By not making that eye contact she could continue to indulge in whatever her rationalization was for her behavior.

In fact, if she had just made the effort to connect with me, to look me in the eye, maybe roll down a window and give me an explanation or reason why she needed to block all the traffic trying to come into Target, while it still wouldn’t have been OK behavior in my book (all she had to do was pull up across in the parking area right next to the door and she’d have been out of everyone’s way), I would have at least felt different, maybe a little bit better about the exchange.

You cannot not communicate.

One of the basic tenets of NLP (you knew I’d bring it back around, didn’t you??) is that you cannot NOT communicate.  Everything we do as humans is communication.  So in her behavior there are so many messages to be decoded.  The one I’m taking away is that somehow, for some reason, she prioritizes her convenience above that of others.  And that is the essence, isn’t it, of common courtesy?  Showing courtesy means to behave in a way that says, “you’re important too.”

I’ll Take Mine Karma-lized.

Change starts with you. And me.  Let’s go out there and over-compensate for the ninnies out there in the world who have lost their sense of common courtesy.

Courtesy: A Life or Death Matter?

One of my favorite books is by David Wagner, the founder of JUUT salons. I had the privilege of hearing him speak and meeting him a couple years ago. His book, “How to be a Day-Maker” is out of print, which is a shame.  It’s a darn good read.  I bought a copy for everyone on the staff at ChangeWorks because that’s the attitude and philosophy I want us to come to work with every day.  (Look it up on Amazon, you can get a used copy for a couple bucks. You can also watch his talk on YouTube here.

I’m going to be a bit of a “spoiler” here, to encourage you to really look this up and to take this whole issue seriously.  David Wagner, some years ago, had a regular client who came in to have her hair done. It wasn’t her usual appointment, and he asked her if she had anything special. No, she said.  But he felt the need to hold her a little differently that day, and he really gave her a great experience. And a great hairstyle.

And then he received his gift.

A couple weeks later, I think it was, he got a note from this lady, saying thank you. That she had been intending to commit suicide, and she wanted her hair done so she’d look good when she was found.  But the way he treated her convinced her that there was still some good in this world, and she changed her mind.

So, the next time you’re given the opportunity to make someone’s day, to extend a common courtesy, to treat someone else as if “they matter too,” remember that you may be doing more than you think.  You just never know.

What is your take on this? Am I off-base? Are you feeling the same concerns? Feel free to comment — just be kind!

Go forth and commit radical random acts of kindness!


Of course I did an internet search on “is common courtesy dead?” when I got home. LOL! If in doubt, Google it!  And I found this article with a deeply concerning gif video at the Huffington Post. I share the article’s author’s concern that this was staged, but to his point, even if it is, how often do we see something similar to this? As he says, even if it is staged, “the man’s inconsiderate behavior is sadly far from unbelievable.”

5 thoughts on “Is Courtesy Dead?

  • at

    I agree! Nothing makes my day brighter than a sweet interaction with a complete stranger. A thank you wave when someone lets you go first at a 4 way stop sign. A simple thank you to someone for holding the door open. A little bigger tip for that extra special service at a restaurant. These simple gestures make being on this planet a little nicer. Thanks for sharing your insight with us Cindy!

    • at

      Totally with you Gayle. It doesn’t have to be something big. It’s the little things, that say we’re human together. “I see you.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our Gift to You! Free Hypnosis Downloads -> Click Here to Learn More
Hello. Add your message here.
Skip to toolbar