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It’s That Simple…

Manners and common courtesy. I am not sure when it happened, but a growing number of people view interpersonal interactions as an opportunity to act (or react) with irritation, condescension, and/or righteous indignation towards others in an effort to gain, prove, or show entitlement/privilege, superiority, power, and/or control. The frequency of these types of interactions illustrates the belief that the simple act of courtesy has become a thing of the past.

Many people living in modern society seem to be infatuated with themselves.

“When you are drunk with yourself you don’t hear your loud voice, yet everyone else does. Your obnoxiousness is evident to all but you.” – Egotism made apparent” ― Lamine Pearlheart

These individuals don’t want to wait for anything: success, love, knowledge, information, etc.  Even people who grew up in an era of hard work, discipline, and sacrifice appear to be infected with the “it’s all about me” mentality. Deferred gratification, taking a step back, reevaluation, reflection, or pausing are becoming obsolete because…YOLO (you only live once).  I read an insightful meme between Charlie Brown and Snoopy where Charlie Brown says, “We only live once, Snoopy.” Snoopy responded, “Wrong! We only die once, we live every day!”  It is the repeated and daily bad behavior in the name of YOLO that keeps the cycle of coarseness prevalent in society.  Hopefully, the shift is not permanent.  Maybe a few etiquette prompts will remind people that manners and common courtesy serve a bigger purpose in modern society.

Growing up, my mother taught me proper social protocol: proper behavior, procedure, decorum, etiquette, code of behavior… According to my mother there are 3 levels: basic, intermediate, and advanced levels. Basic level training includes saying please and thank you, keeping your hands to yourself, picking up after yourself, and showing gratitude and self-restraint; intermediate level training includes knowing formal table settings and having proper table manners, wearing appropriate attire for various events ranging from casual to formal, and being capable of holding an intelligent conversation and interacting with people of all walks of life; advanced level training includes understanding that neither life nor people are perfect or fair, defeat can bring perspective and make you stronger, living a life with honesty and integrity is paramount to being a better person, knowing that you are not the center of everything keeps egos in check, having the ability to sympathize and/or empathize with others helps a person to retain their kindness, and constantly learning, growing, and evolving improves your understanding of yourself and the world you live in.

As adults, we are responsible for our actions.  Despite what may have occurred in our past, every individual makes choices every day that reflect who they choose to be.  Individuals can choose to be rude or polite, mean or kind, hurtful or helpful, blaming or forgiving, or deceitful or truthful.  There will always be frustrating situations and disagreements, but the goal is not to accost, belittle, dismiss, or verbally abuse others.

It is evident that long-standing social standards have been replaced with inflammatory statements, backhanded comments, and mean remarks in order to achieve personal objectives.  It is this attitude of treachery that concerns me.  It is becoming routine to witness and to be on the receiving end of the lack of civility and common courtesy in day to day interactions.  It happens in a variety of settings, but many people seem to be fearless in electronic communications; I am co-opting the term “keyboard courage”. People become verbally vicious for no other reason than they can. However, do not become discouraged.  Keep calm and stay positive. In the immortal words of Martin Luther King Jr., “One day we will learn that the heart can never be totally right if the head is totally wrong.”

“When we look at modern man, we have to face the fact that the modern man suffers from a kind of poverty of spirit, which stands in glaring contrast to scientific and technological abundance.  We’ve learned to fly the air as birds, we’ve learn to swim the seas like fish, yet we haven’t learned to walk the Earth as brothers and sisters.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“It is less about becoming a better person, and more of being better, as a person.” ― J.R. Rim

It really is that simple.


By Brandi Ruff, CMCA, AMS, PCAM

Brandi Ruff currently is the General Manager at King Farm Citizens Assembly, a large scale HOA, located in Rockville, MD.  She is an active member of the Quorum Editorial Committee and a frequent contributor.  Brandi is a strong advocate of continuing education, development, and growth for everyone especially those in leadership roles.

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy, be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.” Jim Rohn