The power of courtesy

For quite some time, we have heard many public figures, such as Rush Limbaugh and comedian Bill Maher, express their contempt for politically correct people. Maher even gave his show the hilarious title “Politically Incorrect.” Terms like “PC police” were used to laugh at people who were perhaps a bit strident about defending the rights of small groups of people. The “gangsta” culture of hip-hop has been anything but PC.

Now, I see many fundamentalists using that term and others to poke fun at those who are considerate and careful not to offend people of other faiths.

For me, political correctness is simply a way of being considerate, and I’m proud to be caring. Courtesy and sensitivity are not held in high regard in the media these days. Many media spokespeople, stars and commentators, “gangsta” rappers, nasty radio talk show stars, and “nervous” comedians, as well as personalities such as reality talent show judges and certain game show hosts, achieve success in belittling people and making fun of them. Janet Jackson may not have been polite or judicious in her exposure to the Super Bowl, but neither are the athletes, the fans, or the commercials, so it all seemed the same to me, and that’s one of the reasons I don’t enjoy watching sports on television.

However, I recently noticed that people who have always been kind and personable, like game show host Regis Philbin and talk show hosts Ellen Degeneres and Jay Leno, seem to be rising to the top. Could it be, after all, that being polite could beat being “in your face” and “edgy”?

Media taste is not taken into account, it seems to sink to the lowest common denominator at least as often as it rises above average. But, in your personal life, courtesy, consideration, and caring will always be more successful than any other way of treating others.

Courtesy and consideration are powerful. We all want to be liked, cared for and treated with kindness. We are human, so we do not always manage to behave in the best way. But the more kindness and consideration we send, the more he gives us back.

There are rules of etiquette because to create civilization, we need limits. Rules of polite behavior can sometimes seem restrictive, but when people use them, they make new and uncomfortable situations more comfortable. Etiquette is just a prescribed way of being courteous and considerate of others. As we get to know each other better, we can relax the rules, but maintaining considerate and respectful attitudes ensures a more successful connection.

Guidelines for better understanding.

1. Seek first to understand. If you know the other person’s frame of reference, you can talk to them within it.

2. Pay attention to how your words land. If your partner’s response does not match what you said, take a look at what they are listening to …

3. Go from problem to solution as quickly as possible. Focus on the problem only long enough to understand it, then turn your attention to finding a solution that works for everyone, rather than who is right or who is wrong.

4. Separate the emotion from the solution. If one or both of them are upset, irrational, or reactive, they are not communicating. Take a break and try again in a few minutes, when you’ve both calmed down.

5. Don’t hit dead horses. If you’ve been on the same ground several times without moving forward, get help. An objective third party can work wonders.

6. Be nice. Strive to create an atmosphere of cooperation and be mindful of the other person’s feelings.

7. Remember, “what goes around comes around” and consider how you would like to be treated before reacting to someone else.