Personality of Coronavirus

I am surprised at how compliant everyone has been with wearing a mask. It is mandatory within stores and public buildings, but it is just as common to see people wearing masks outside exercising. In Texas, even with the heat in the 100’s, people are continuing to wear masks outdoors, sweating from fear of the Coronavirus.

I think it would be interesting to do a psychological study of people based on how much they are masking themselves. As concern for the Coronavirus has continued, I’ve noticed people covering up their faces more and more. In retail environments where there have been the most people, I have seen people so covered up you cannot even see their face! How can the police even identify a thief anymore? Women are seen wearing large sunglasses and masks so that only their foreheads are left uncovered. Men wear bandanas that cover up the entire bottom half of their face below their eyes. Whereas in most cases it is difficult to implement any kind of policy, somehow wearing a mask is not even questioned. There are very few people who argue with it. How many of these are wearing a mask for prevention reasons and how many are wearing it because of psychological needs for safety, security, love, and belonging?

I have seen people who have their entire face covered. Is this a sign of care and security that the person is trying to create for themselves? Does the amount of coverage of the face signify fulfilling a need of self-love and way of conquering pain in their life, like trying to swaddle themselves in a baby blanket? Or maybe it is coverage from the fear of contracting the virus built up from all the hype and coverage of media, rather than the virus itself.

Perhaps for some, it is a way to physically look better or a means to lose weight. Sweating under a mask burns off calories on an entirely different area of the body than is typical. Similarly, with weight loss, how is it that a person can breathe who is exercising with their mouth and nose covered? I had a gym membership and it was manageable to walk on a treadmill at a slow speed with a mask on. However, any faster cardio activity was nearly impossible as the mask restrained breathing and caused my face to become really hot. Do people who workout intensely masked think it will strengthen their lungs by restraining their air? For those who are self-conscious about the bottom half of their face, it provides a chance to keep it hidden, but for most of us, we need a full supply of air. Likewise, it is a mystery to me how cyclists are able to ride their bikes completely masked. Yet many of them are cycling miles around the lake at the same speed as normal. How many of the walkers and runners with dogs on a leash do not care that the Coronavirus can be contracted to their pet? Where are the pet masks? Wouldn’t it make more sense if both pet and owner wore a mask or didn’t?

Living in a self-expressive era, people are eager to express themselves and show their personality and style. For those who care to express themselves by mask, wearing a unique mask is a way to do this. The number of styles I have seen have ranged from glitter and bling, to exaggerated mouths on the mask, patriotic versions, cartoons, and plenty of different colors and patterns. Those who love to sew, were quick to see the Coronavirus as an opportunity to show their skills. Handmade masks were made and distributed to friends and family members. Many still wear the basic disposable, blue and white mask. Bandanas also have been a quick makeshift for a mask, easily made by folding a bandana into thirds and popping hair bands on each end.

Very few people are actually practicing social distancing with 6 feet of space, but wearing a mask is followed by nearly the entire population and has become a trend. Has self-expression and the trend for fashion tied in with keywords like “social distancing” created a fad to drive compliancy?

Health and self-expression are always going to be top-sellers when it comes to the general public. Having an ailment or a special condition, makes you a commodity. We see this with parents and their children. “My child has ADHD”, or whatever other symptom, suddenly makes the child “special” and the parents have a topic to talk about. Topics revolve around the problem with their child, rather than emphasizing what the child excels in. This is a way parents can converse with one another encountering less feeling of inadequacy. Empathy can be found with a health issue, whereas bragging on talent might create adversity with another parent. The same type of approach applies to adult-to-adult conversation. Adults would rather discuss their woes rather than talk about what is uplifting. How many older people talk about their pains, medications and doctors visits when it would be more pleasant to hear about their life experiences. It creates a concern for self, which results in compassion from the other person. With the Coronavirus everyone gets a special band-aid pasted on their face.

It is understandable that vulnerable populations such as the elderly might have a greater fear of catching the Coronavirus. One would think that children would be of a higher concern as well. In retail store environments, I have heard mothers question why their children must wear a mask or if an exception can be made. Events and kids meals might make exceptions for kids, but with smaller lungs and little bodies, it would seem obvious they would fall into the high concern bracket. Psychologically is it that the parent feels neglected of care and must nurture themselves by wearing a mask while giving the child the benefit of freedom? The parent positions him or herself as the one who needs care above the child, when it should be both.

With the rich and famous, masking opens up more opportunities to be in public and not be identified. For those aspiring to be rich and famous, they too can dress differently and go around town in mask for a different experience. It is a chance for the affluent to be fashionable and show their sense of fashion by affording specialized masks to coordinate with their outfits. An article was posted about the Queen of England who wears a mask that matches her daily wardrobe of brightly colored suits. I also saw a young woman in downtown Dallas who had a mask made of the exact material of her outfit.  

While some cultures such as Islam require head coverings, covering the face is new for most Western cultures. Will this develop a greater appreciation for our mouths? An uncovered mouth is needed for sound and volume. Many hard of hearing must be affected by not being able to hear people who have mouth coverings on. It may create a new vision for how we see people, noticing the person rather than the external qualities. The mouth is also used for reading facial expressions. A person can take a vacation from smiling and no one will even know. I’ve even seen people stick their tongue out at me from behind their mask. And as for revenue from foundation makeup and lipstick, I would imagine sales are down. Personally, I prefer to be mask-free as much as possible, but follow policies where wearing a mask is required.

Wearing a mask is the perfect prelude to a reformation of etiquette in our culture. After being in timeout with the Coronavirus, with shelter in place, we were able to have a greater appreciation for our freedom and ability to interact with one another. Covering the mouth and nose, can visually signify halting gossip and nosiness, which is also indicative of rudeness. When restrictions were lifted for public shopping, it was a renewed experience of respectfulness of distance and the exclusiveness of having space while shopping. People were obedient to this and cautious of infecting others by following social distancing procedures. Now that most places have opened up, there seems to be not much difference as everyday life returns to normal. When we take our masks off, we will see other people’s faces again. What it would be like to remove the band-aids over our mouths and noses yielding a healed and healthy society of people. Furthermore, what if being mask-free meant a world culture safe from the Coronavirus, and one with a greater respectfulness for each other in our interactions and speech.  

Note: It is noted that the Coronavirus is real and has caused many deaths worldwide. This article is written from another perspective hoping to present other points such as how well marketed the Coronavirus has been with precautions followed seamlessly by the majority of the population because of the scare. A lack of respectfulness in today’s culture is equally contagious and deadly, which is a natural segue to this current worldwide concern.


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The Signs of Communication

With communication today, two extremities of communication exist: self-expression and speaking with discretion. Self-expression, or speaking openly on any topic without much censorship or use of etiquette, is common by most of the population. The second, opposite extreme, is speaking with discretion and saying very little in order to preserve one’s reputation. This is more typical of professionals and anyone of class, although it may not necessarily always the case. How are either of these improving the way we communicate? How are both of these skewing the line of civilized communication?

Self-Expression
The first extreme of communication is self-expression which has become an acceptable way to communicate today for most Americans. Unlike other countries, the United States does not have laws against hate speech. What a person says has no societal limitations in most settings. With this increase in self-expression, and decrease in societal parameters for civilized speech, the majority of the population feels they can say whatever they want—and for the most part they do. There is little thought put into what is said. Rather than considering how what is communicated might hurt or offend another, the priority is placed on voicing opinions without discretion, using uncivilized expressions, and being heard.

In the past, social standards influenced improper communication. In Roman and Greek cultures, speaking was seen as an art which had to be mastered before a person was given the right to speak on a topic. It could take years to master becoming an orator. The aspiring speaker had to first learn the art by studying the writings of philosophers, mastering grammar, and learning how to speak. In more modern times, within the United States, social standards set the acceptability of civilized speech and good etiquette. Even a minor comment could eliminate a person from social circles. Differences of opinion could certainly make for a worthy topic of discussion. However, being cordial was expected at a minimum for more vivacious discussions which could lead to arguments. It was possible for people to be accepted, although they might have differing opinions, and still be valued and respected with human dignity.

Within the last 50 years, there has been a shift to self-expression. The ability to say whatever is on a person’s mind is acceptable whether in person or online. There are hardly any limits to what a person may speak about. Open communication is seen as a way to provide transparency and the “honest story” of any person or situation. While this has many benefits, it crosses a line when dignity is stepped upon and boundaries are crossed. Consideration is necessary before speaking with regards to whom a person is talking to, if the topic is appropriate, and the choice of respectful words which are said for a pleasant conversation. Talking about anything can be very damaging. In fact, much of what people talk about has veered away from “ideas” and “intellectual topics”. Instead, what is more common is digressive speech such as gossip or speaking of topics which are inappropriate, very personal or sensitive in nature, or comments which might advertise the negative rather than focus on the positive. There is no preservation of the human dignity of a person. What needs to be said, is what is said, regardless of how it may hurt or offend the other person.

On social networks, a simple post can flare up into a war of replies within seconds. This trolling is often classified inaccurately as a “discussion” and “freedom of speech”. It would be better described as intolerance for a different view which triggers others chiming in to counter the post with an escalating degree of negativity and close-mindedness. These can occur even on simple posts that may not have any intent to attract opinions, but which result in a soapbox of negative, heated, responses. While self-expression allows for openness and problem solving, it can also open the door for adversity. Communication on digressive topics, and intentionally creating unnecessary conflict are examples of unhealthy communication. Speaking about anything without consideration of another person is rude and uncivilized.

The Power of Silence
The other extreme for communication is to choose to say very little or to remain silent. By speaking cautiously a person is more likely to preserve their good reputation. It also provides safety, by finding no partiality to any party or issue. The person remains politically correct by withholding an opinion. In many spiritual teachings, silence is perceived as golden. By remaining silent, a person can reflect wisdom. Remaining silent, a person does not reveal what they know or do not know. Likewise, by not speaking, there is less of a chance of speaking in an unintelligent manner, speaking offensively, or divulging information which should not be revealed. Remaining silent is also a way to absorb heated conflict, inappropriate speech, and to buy in time to respond with a more thoughtful response.

There is a time and a place to speak. George Washington said, “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter”.  While we should speak out rather than remain silent on situations of injustice, on political views or ways that may affect our life, saying less, rather than more can be a way which contributes to civility. Voicing an opinion without consideration, can breed hate more than solve problems. This is where uncivilized speech occurs. In today’s culture, it is more likely that the freedom of speech is taken too far through the self-expression of uncivilized conversation. Self-expression can be the ignition of unnecessary conflict just to express an opinion. When freedom of speech is taken to this extreme, responding with silence can help swing the equilibrium of communication, bringing it back to more peaceful speech and civilized communication. Knowing when to speak and when not to speak is important.

Finding the Balance with Human Dignity and Respect
Some social and professional settings still have standards for communication, although uncivilized speech is more popular. Realizing that there is a place for self-expression while maintaining a standard for civilized communication is the challenge which we face today. Many do not recognize digressive communication. Being desensitized by the current standard, hardly anyone today questions inappropriate speech which is on the tongues of most and found in media and by leaders. If culture continues to accept digressive speech, it is a reflection on our country, acceptability for digression and lack of etiquette, and is an insult to the right to the Freedom of Speech which we have. The First Amendment was created for Americans to speak up for freedom and liberties for all. With an acceptability of hate speech and speaking on digressive topics, society is infected with negativity, hate, unacceptability, intolerance for differences, immaturity, a lack of professionalism, and lack of human dignity. It shows an inability to communicate and interact with others. For a country which prides itself on being a melting pot, this is not congruent. Although not everyone will get along, there needs to be a greater degree of respect for differences whether it is race, belief, lifestyle, ability, economic or any other characteristic. Valuing differences and human life needs a higher tolerance and acceptance. Inequality will always exist, but human dignity needs to be upheld. Since the primary problem of unacceptability stems from inappropriate speech, correcting communication that is off-balance can help set society upright to a culture with a civilized standard.


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Words & Phrases: How To Phrase It

How you speak matters, and so does knowing ‘when to chew it’. The Freedom of Speech does not mean it is acceptable to say just anything. Slander, defamation, and verbal abuse are abuse of the freedom of speech and are even a liability for a civil lawsuit. Knowing how to speak properly makes a difference in employment showing good communication skills. Thinking before you speak gives you a chance to form what you have to say in the most positive and polite manner. This infographic and podcast shares information on how to express what you have to say in a civilized way.

Download the Infographic: How-To Think Before You Speak: Words and Phrases

Are you left tongue tied because of rude speech? Are you wondering how to lick the rudeness? Join Clean Up Dallas with Culture and Kindness as host Cheryl Vaca presents the podcast: Tongue Tied: How To Lick the Rudeness by Using Better Etiquette. Identifying offensive ways of speaking in everyday conversations is a way to improve communication with others. Raise the standard for civilized communication by striving to speak respectfully and with good tact. Be Cultured. Be Kind.

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SAY…WHAT!?! About Speech

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If you think Freedom of Speech means the freedom to say anything, think again. Defamation and other speech can be civil offenses. On the 4th of July we celebrate our country’s independence and the freedoms we have as Americans. The First Amendment protects the freedom of speech but how are many turning this into the liberty of hate speech? Learn more about defamation, slander, and effective communication. The content below shares valuable information on communication and the different between good speech and traps that we fall in with our tongue. View the infographic and read or listen to the podcast here!

Download the Infographic: How-To Communication with Etiquette SAY…WHAT!?!

What you says matters and speaking well of others is where winners are at. Join Clean Up Dallas with Culture and Kindness for the podcast: How To Phrase It and You Can Quote Me. This podcast talks about how what you say matters especially when Freedom of Speech is taken too far. Learn ways to improve your relationships and how you speak by listening to the podcasts this month and joining this month’s online book discussions. Reach for a higher standard when it comes to communication. Be Cultured. Be Kind.

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Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World
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Random Acts of Kindness: Speech Workout

Speech in the workplace. In some workplaces, there are no limits—whether it is voicing an opinion, gossiping about co-workers, expressing personal problems, or using profanity. While freedom of speech may be a right, respectfulness is essential in how we communicate with one another.

It is easy to get caught up in work and forget basic politeness toward co-workers. Taking time to express extra words of politeness and kindness can build teams and win co-workers over to grow a positive, more congealed team. Politeness can include thanking someone for their help on a project, complimenting good work, or appreciating a co-worker with a positive remark. Recognizing co-workers creates positive energy which can become exponential energy to the individual, the team, and the overall project at hand. Acts of kindness in the workplace may be also mean correcting others when lines are crossed to remind them to be respectful. There is a responsibility to create a positive company culture by always fostering and advocating respectfulness and kindness as the standard in any work environment. Being kind in the workplace also means adding a little extra effort, at times, to make the next person’s job a little easier. Bringing kindness, politeness, and respect to the workplace increases morale and makes the work environment welcoming and positive.

On the contrary, negative communication in the workplace brings morale down and can affect the entire company. Besides lowering morale, negative communication can also be damaging to the inner spirit of individuals. When a person is talked about at work, shunned, or subjected to flying words of profanity, it affects even more than morale, but the very essence of the person. It is hardly an environment that anyone would want to work within for very long. Moreover, how can a company be successful with such discord? Practicing respectfulness and kindness creates value to the employee as a team member and also assures as not to deride human dignity, which sometimes is not realized.

Whenever humans get together, interactions are not immune to confrontation or disagreements. These have the potential to quickly spiral in escalation and can easily get out-of-hand with verbal attacks of inappropriate remarks. Most professionals are able to maintain a calm demeanor and know how to back-off to de-escalate in situations such as these. Being silent and allowing the other person to cool off, before responding, is a way to maintain professionalism while respecting the other individual. Recognizing situations like these and knowing how to react to prevent this is a way to practice kindness in the workplace.

Communication, which is not in person, can easily be misconstrued, especially with e-mails. Shorter, direct emails help eliminate room for misinterpretation. It is always best to ask for clarification, or better yet, take a few minutes to meet with the individual in person. In-person meetings are the best way to resolve conflict. It is easy to hide behind an email or phone call. There is less avoidance with person-to-person communication and issues can be addressed with a human realness which cannot be found by email or over the phone.

While HR manuals are a basis for the company’s desired expectations, it is the employees themselves who must uphold this and create the company culture. HR manuals are the ideal and many companies do not adhere to them. Surprisingly enough, keeping like-minded cultures, even negative ones, seems to be the recipe for success, probably because complete turnover would be too costly. For companies to flourish and businesses to grow, positive work environments must be part of the mix. Respectfulness causes streamlined processes with less conflict and builds individual and team morale to drive energy for growth. Prove that being kind works. Work on adding kindness at work with respect and professionalism. Be that kind of company and employee.

Posted @cultureofkind, www.bit.ly/2XNuz2x


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Taboo Topics

What are you talking about?!? Good etiquette means practicing good manners. There are 4 topics that are things you should never talk about if you want to practice being polite: Money, Politics, Religion, and Sex.

These topics are sensitive areas either because they are classified or core beliefs. Talking about issues in these categories can cause friction and discomfort to the other person and even be very hurtful. When you are aware of this you respect the other person’s dignity and beliefs. Unless both parties are open to discussing topics in these categories, it is very inappropriate.

Make friends by politely asking if the other person minds talking about a certain topic which may be sensitive. If so, then be open-minded when you discuss these issues being sure not to counter the other person tearing them down and rudely opposing them. Your belief is not the only way. Welcomed open-discussions are a great way to learn from others. However, if these topics are not welcomed for discussion, do not proceed. There are so many other things to talk about. You’ll win a friend and good manners is good etiquette.

[written for @cultureofkind]


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