Our accustomed work availabilities, personal services, shopping routines, opportunities, schedules, deliveries, get-togethers, savings accounts, parties, eating out, routine health visits . . . the list goes on -- all but disappeared within a month. As society is adjusting, we’re observing angst in simple communication of needs regarding individual and family health concerns.
Today’s health and safety issues loom large, reflecting widespread fear and concern about public policies and outcomes. Disconcertingly, civil conversation can seem reserved only for those holding similar views. Deeply-held beliefs about our safety and health loom large, and can affect our civility towards others, obstructing or interfering with constructive discourse or simple statements and requests regarding one's health needs.
We're 're hearing a lot of un-etiquette-ful comments these days outside the margins of expressing one's personal needs. Do any of the following comments sound familiar to you?
Stating a health need, but prefacing or adding an opinion or belief about reality.
Demands and accusations.
There is no better time than now to ask Etiquette to come to our rescue! After all, you should be able to state what you believe is best for you or a family member in your charge, directly and respectfully.
Asking directly, clearly and kindly for what you need is etiquette-ful.
Is the issue at hand a matter of “live and let live?”
Whether vendors are wearing face masks is not a confrontational issue. Instead of arguing with those who aren’t wearing face masks, you might choose to shop elsewhere.
Ask yourself, “Am I being ‘recognizably respectful’ to others?”
For example: Assume you are sheltering at home, and your washing machine has gone out. You notify the company of your health safety expectations, instructing that anyone who enters your home must wear a mask, put on fresh gloves in front of you, and wear the shoe covers that you’re providing. Acknowledge you are adding burden and that you appreciate their care and concern for your health. Your gratitude might extend to a hand-written note.
Am I being cool, calm, and collected?
If you sense that emotion is involved, take a pause and think through what you want to convey. Active listening and an encouraging statement may be just the right thing to do.
The person with whom you are speaking may have a completely different perspective and mindset on what the situation at hand is. That person may be in the same position as you, trying to figure out how to ask for something regarding her own health and safety or needing to be respected for a different view on what’s being called for.
For all of us, things can seem a bit too much. It may be helpful to remember that though our current generation has not dealt with a pandemic, humans have dealt with them before. Then, as now, everyone did the best they could to get through it. The most important thing is, they got through it. And we will, too.