A Little Better Than Essential

Businessman and Homeless Man

A favorite etiquette quote of mine comes from writer and humorist, Will Cuppy: “Etiquette means behaving yourself a little better than is absolutely essential.”

That bit of humor is a reminder to keep the inner smile going strong. My goal for this year is to continue figuring out moment to moment what the absolute essentials are in interacting with others here and now. What polishes can I add that help others in their day-to-day interactions with me?

A Daily Checklist

Perhaps because I was a teacher for twenty-five years, I assume that assignments need checking or grading. Marking daily progress on a calendar is an easy way to do this.

Another suggestion is to create a weekly or monthly tracking grid in a journal. This allows you to see your consistency or progress at a glance. You can find journal tracker suggestions in this video.

A Little Better Than Essential Behaviors

In order to keep your behaviors a little better than essential, the following are necessary:

  • Appreciation and gratitude. Regular and sincere expression in letting others know the specifics of why they are appreciated. This includes encouragements!
  • Respect. Treating every person with dignity and kindness. Really listening to what others are saying. Making the effort to understand the feelings and needs of others is a big part of respect.
  • Positivity. Consistency in friendly, welcoming, and inclusive mannerisms
  • Communication. Remembering it is a two-way street! Those listening skills matter.
  • Integrity. Honesty and kindness go hand in hand.

Having a good attitude is key in how we choose to remember and make memories. Interactions with others are at the core of memory-making and give us a sense of continuity and connection and even purpose.

When we are etiquette-ful, we are mastering the moments with kindness and appreciation that there are others with us and that they matter. We can appreciate that people have different ideas than we do and that people-pleasing isn’t the same thing as letting others know that you hear them, even though your views differ. The little moments of etiquette-fulness happen in personal greetings and introductions, in kind conversation, in respecting others personal space, and taking responsibility for yourself.

Attitude adjustments at the margin mean that we’re aiming to behave a little better than what is essential. Doing so contributes to stronger relationships and creating more positive environments.

“Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best.” ~ St. Jerome

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