If everyone were etiquette-ful, what would our world look like? I’ve been thinking about that micro-level world where we can zoom in underneath perfection and magnify the biomass of human sociality, kindness.
We are aware that we and everyone else are not perfect. Being fallible beings, living with stress and pressure, the best we can do is to look for peace and intentionally aim to be recognizably respectful in all our relationships.
To help us imagine more vividly an etiquette-ful world, we might begin with ourselves. What can we do each day to contribute to the goal of a kinder, more respectful community?
We can start every day with the basics:
(inspired by Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten)
Etiquette is a peaceful way to manage people even when they aren’t being their best selves.
Being etiquette-ful doesn’t make you a doormat, but it does guide us to a gentler method of managing the people in our lives. It allows us to lead by example, while kindly verbalizing our expectations.
However, etiquette also allows us to remove ourselves from situations that are toxic or dangerous. There is no rule that says we should “turn the other cheek” more than once!
“Codes of manners require us to be at least outwardly cheerful, agreeable, gracious, convivial—in short, a contagious source of cheer to others.”
~ Henry Hazlitt, journalist, philosopher
You know the basics, and the expectations when dealing with other people, but how do you move forward with an etiquette-ful life?
The short answer is: take it day by day. A longer answer is when taking it day by day, be mindful of your actions and reactions with other people.
Avoid getting hung up on all the various etiquette guidelines. I don’t know anyone who has always followed them perfectly, but I do know many people who follow them as best they can and are known as kind, respectable, successful people.
If you can remember the Golden Rule and live it each day, others will recognize you as someone they can like and trust. And this allows you to be contagious with an etiquette-ful worldview. Now, let’s imagine if everyone lived their lives this way . . .