What is Common Courtesy?

So I just sneezed (actually I blew my nose loudly) and someone thought I sneezed because he is so into what he is doing on his computer…that’s good because I pay him to be focused! He said “bless you” and I said “thank you”.

Now I don’t want to get political or religious about this, but it made me think…is that common courtesy or just something we do? This got me thinking about the lady who slid in front of 2 or 3 other people who were patiently waiting at our booth to discuss their resumes with us and after I told her she just cut the line she, in essence, said ..too bad for them!

When you are in an office setting or at an interview or at a career fair…what happens to common courtesy? Is it one for all and all for me? Are you holding doors for other job seekers or letting them fend for themselves? What about when you cinch your tie in the bathroom before going in to an interview, or jumping on the elevator and letting it close before someone who is clearly heading for it, gets a chance to board? Have you ever thought that the other person in the bathroom or the person heading for the elevator is the person who will be interviewing you for the job? Have you thought about the fact that another person in the elevator or even 20 feet away might see your act of what I will term “less than common courtesy” and decide you are not the kind of person they want working with them?

Am I the guy who cares too much and should not let this bother me?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

As we approach a solemn, Holy time in many religions it makes me think about my fellow man and how I can be a better me. In the grand scheme of things I think I’m a pretty kind and generous and courteous person, but hey, they even improve on the best cars year after year, so I can do a little work under my hood once a year.

Oh, and proof that I’m teaching what I preach…the aforementioned “bless you” employee is my son. How proud am I!

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  1. Hi, I really enjoyed reading your observations about common courtesy. To my mind, cc is essential for us all to live on this planet. It is too easy to forget that we are all “brothers and sisters”. We get caught up in competition in an effort to survive and prosper. When I was a kid, it seems to me that people were more polite. We would even say “hello” to strangers walking down the street. I did that the other day and the woman was visibly perplexed. Probably first trying to figure out if she knew me. We have all heard of random acts of kindness. How about random acts of common courtesy? HOw much nicer things would be if we all got on that band wagon! Wishing you a very happy holiday. Mary O’Donnell, Class of ’82 – BA French, currently a realtor on Cape Cod!

  2. Common courtesy is disappearing. I drove on several parkways in NY recently. Every time I signaled to change lanes, the car behind me in that lane speeded up. BTW – when I learned to drive, we used hand signals out the window. Today people seldom use mechanical signals. Parking Lots! They are NOT freeways. The most courteous people I have met this year have been in the military.

  3. Two weeks ago, I walked into Barnes & Noble. There were 2 doors. I held the door twice for a woman and her daughter. they didn’t say thank you, so I turned around and said, “You’re welcome”, at which point I got yelled at, sworn at, etc. I said, “Okay, next time, I’ll let the door slam in your face”. The daughter asked me to please do so, and immediately. I walked away to avoid further confrontation, but I should have asked the mother if she were proud of her parenting skills, and of her daughter. I took a poll of my friends at the gym a day later, and everyone said that they do say “thank you”. I was so disgusted. Civility has gone away, to a large extent. How can we get it back?
    Francey Nathan, ’73, English major
    I co-own a business with my brother in RI (our home state), selling promotional products.

  4. @Francey I have done that so many times, but never been yelled at. Usually the person is so oblivious they say, oh thank you and I say…oh, you’re welcome! Most importantly, don’t let those people keep you from doing what you know is right! We can’t let those who don’t appreciate common courtesy lead us to be the “I couldn’t be bothered” generation.