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?

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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Dating: A Question of Dignity and Respect

Dating seems to be falling away as today’s culture favors quick interactions over traditional courting. With this, dignity and respect take less of an importance. Just like the convenience store, if it is that easy to get to the goal, or if that goal is the priority over the person, then why even go through the stages of winning the woman over?

Winning a woman is something of a misnomer. For some men, they do see the woman as a prize, (and let’s hope not as a possession). As with anything that is won, there is effort which must be put forth and a purpose behind it. The purpose of dating is to learn about each other by spending time together in person to learn what qualities and attributes the person has as compatible to your own. With time, it is easier to find out how a person treats you and others, what they feel about honesty, God, and how they approach situations. It takes a lifetime to learn about a person and even that wouldn’t be enough time to define a person as people change and grow throughout their life. The purpose of learning about someone in a dating relationship is to spend time to see if the person is compatible as a partner and if the relationship has enough compatibility to move in the direction of marriage. When this time is not spent, there is very little evaluation time beyond the physical attraction. It is no longer about the person but them as an object of use and in what they can provide.

Each person has their interpretation of what dignity and respect is, and what they find acceptable. For most people there is a basic standard of dignity and respect that we would all agree upon. At a minimum this should be the expectation, and if there is a difference in these standards, they should be discussed as to whether they are compatible or not. If dignity and respect is not an essential part of the relationship, it is time to leave without any regrets. These are the foundation of a quality relationship.

Search for Clean Up Dallas with Culture and Kindness on Facebook, WordPress and LinkedIn and @cultureofkind on Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube. Share with your friends and give us a like! Clean Up Dallas with Culture and Kindness has the mission to raise the standard of culture with etiquette, respect, and kindness. Be Cultured. Be Kind.

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Culture of Rude: TV Talkback

Change the station. How hard it has become to find shows which do not have slapstick negativity or slapping others with taboo topics. Whether it is the most popular sitcom or reality show, anyone who has been around at least the last 20 years can notice a change in the delivery of the material. While humor doesn’t need to be exactly like Sesame Street, the good ol’ fashion family values of Brady Bunch which may not be as relevant to single family homes of today, or the good humor of Bill Cosby which seems to be forgotten—there is something which needs to be noticed about what we find interesting and what we find funny today.

Shows which center around insulting and mocking, speaking with tongue-in-cheek that is no longer that but rather talk back and rudeness, and incivility in it’s many forms has an indirect impact on viewers and the standard of the culture today. Even most reality talk shows, specialize on delivering the shock factor of what used to be unthinkable to even talk about. Very personal information is revealed on topics of sex, personal relationships, and the overall tone is one of negativity. While not every show is like this, it takes some filtering through before you can find a show that has better delivered material and those are in the minority.

With material like this common to the media we watch, we soon become desensitized to what is respectful and appropriate. In fact, so much so, that many who turn on the TV would not even label what they are watching as a form of lack of culture. This influences our culture and in how we interact with each other. Talking back becomes the standard, negativity, spreading gossip on taboo topics, little respect for boundaries, and a lack of accentuating the good in others and throughout society.

We choose what we watch and listen to. Whether it is TV, movies, the radio, or podcasts, step back and evaluate the content and delivery and see how it may be influencing your individual delivery in the way you interact with others. You might find that it is time to change the station, or at least submit some respectful talk-back yourself to provide them with some feedback.

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The Abs of Culture: The ABC’s of Culture and Business

Here are ways to strengthen culture at its core.

A — Acceptance.

Unless you are working at home, chances are you are working with other people. People are all different and while you might get along with most, there are people who just don’t fit the mold set by others. It is easy for bullying to occur or to push these people out of “the circle” of acceptance from the majority. The reason may be diversity, creed, age, sexuality, intellect or any other difference – either they are the “new kid on the block” to the group or they have “been there for too long”. Whatever it may be, if you are committed to working together, you’ll have to find a way to make allowances and that means finding empathy in understanding differences and focusing on common ground.

B —Building Up.

What kind of work environment can survive with negativity and tearing down? Everyone likes to be told they did a good job and be appreciated. It is easy to get so focused on projects that the simplest phrases of appreciation and compliments might never be said.  Make a point to tell those you work with “Thank you!” or “I appreciate that you did that!” or “It really made a difference!” more often. Look them in the eye when you express a compliment. Be sincere. Send a word of thanks by email that is really meant. These can go a long way in building morale in the work environment.

C — Consideration of Others.

In today’s culture of “me-ism” the importance of self naturally spills over into the workplace. Instead of being considerate of others on the team, it is easy to only focus on how any task or expectation might impact you. Instead of seeing how something might inconvenience you, see how you can make someone else’s job easier. Maybe it is preparing a little more thoroughly for a meeting in advance. Perhaps it is completing your work earlier than expected for the next stage in the process. Instead of being project related, maybe it means dressing nicely for work, practicing good hygiene, smiling and having a positive spirit, or always appreciating others rather than finding what you don’t like about them.

Sitting up to improving culture in the workplace?

When you practice kindness in the workplace, the culture at work changes over time to one with a solid core group of people. Increased productivity. More pleasant interactions. Happier overall job satisfaction. Less turnover.

Spring Into Kindness—At work.

—Clean Up Dallas with Culture and Kindness

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Kindness at Work: Extending Beyond the Work Cube

Deadlines to meet and schedules to adhere to— there can be little time to know fellow co-workers other than a quick “hello”. You might know a few basic facts, like Ralph goes home and like to watch the NFL game and have his buddies over occasionally. Or that Susan is trying to get her kid into the band next year to play tuba rather than piccolo. Or Katie has a reoccurring allergy which is causing all sorts of phone calls to get the carpet washed, drapes vacuumed, and her prized possession, her Sheep Dog, scheduled for his weekly hair dressing appointment. Most of this you overhear as you hide behind your cube wall, keeping busy with the projects you have to do. But when was the last time you made time to find out the reason your co-worker is so frazzled after coming in to work late? Or near tears because the deadline is approaching and despite all the hard work, it is not going all as planned after all. Taking time to observe personal issues, within reason, and reacting to them adds warmth and humanity to what can become a cold office of strangers.

Add to refilling the coffee in your cup with a couple of minutes of conversation with a nearby co-worker. Ask how he or she is doing—it might just make a difference at the next conference meeting when you’re battling over decisions for the vendor for the next project. Speaking of wrestling, maybe it’s time to call it a tie with some of the little office nuances that irk people like leaving the coffee filter in the coffee pot overnight, or coming in late with the editorial, or not leaving time to check everything before someone calls the shots that the project is in overtime already.

Office environments which welcome a pace that allows for a little bit of time for personal interactions, helps alleviate tensions which can easily become part of the workplace. By extending a few more compliments, offering words of empathy, and being more thoughtful and considerate, the office work environment transforms, springing back with a refreshed team spirit. Laugh if you want. Some of that is good too!

Kindness at work.

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Tips for Preparing for a Good Presentation

Whether you are the team lead on a project standing up in front of a group for the first time, or the CEO giving a presentation at a conference with thousands of attendees, it helps to be prepared. Polishing your shoes as well as your words and delivery, all help in making a lasting impression on your audience.

Here are some tips to polish up your presentation. The first step is to create an outline. This will help organize your ideas as you brainstorm what you want to talk about. Consider what questions your audience is hoping to find answers from in what you are speaking about and research valuable information to provide to them. The most important aspect of any presentation is the content which is provided. Some ideas include:

  • Using relevant stories is a great way to share information
  • Add humor
  • Plan for the audience to interact as part of the presentation
  • Be sensitive to avoid using words or content which might offend your audience
  • Use language which the audience understands
  • Provide new information and “take-aways”
  • Be simple and clear
    Relax and have fun!

Having a visual aid such as a slide presentation to show on a larger screen will help listeners stay focused and serve as a guide for yourself as you speak. Design a slide presentation using your creativity. Add in interesting images, video clips, web links, and animation. Provide a printed copy of the outline for the audience to use during the presentation and to take with them. This added visual element will keep the audience engaged as you speak and help them pay attention to what you have to say. Practice your delivery.

As a presenter, you have the front of the audience as your stage. You might choose to stay in one place or you might choose to walk around the room. Realize that body language, using your hands to gesture, using tonal variation of your voice, using the proper volume, and being animated and alive will drive enthusiasm to those you are delivering your speech to. Ask the audience questions to engage them in your topic. Be open to questions and decide ahead of time if you wish to extend an invitation for questions to be asked during your talk or if they should held until the end. Be sure to practice your speech in advance. It will help you anticipate for what you might be leaving out. Your presentation will be more polished as you become more familiar with it with practice. If you can get access to the room you will be speaking in, see if you can practice there. Put together a checklist of items you may need taken care of before your presentation such as a key to the room, having all of the equipment set up and materials printed, knowledge of how to work a slide projector, a glass of water, and a planned schedule to arrive early. Not having to worry about these on the day of your presentation will help you be more relaxed and ready to speak!

If you find you would like to become a better speaker and refine your communication and presentation skills for 2020, there are local chapters of Toastmasters which can help with talking in front of others. You also can video tape yourself and take notes on what you need to work on. Look your best, come prepared, and don’t worry if you make a mistake! Your audience will appreciate that you’ve given them useful information. Having a polished and prepared presentation will show that you are professional and trusted source for information.

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Goals for Speech

What can you say? What are you saying? Setting goals for good etiquette also applies to using slang, profanity, and not being sensitive. Do you realize how easy it is to use abbreviated ways of speaking and choosing grammar which is not correct? While it may be understandable, it may be sending off signals that you lack education, culture and can’t speak or write correctly. Here are some examples:

  • “I be tired”
  • “I is not talking right”
  • “I ain’t doin’ that”
  • “I am not doin’ that”
  • “I got five cents”
  • “I asked did he do it?”
  • “I don’t got none
  • “and then she says that she is going to the store”
  • “She ugly. Something is wrong with the way that person looks”
  • Frequently apologizing to start a sentenceI am sorry. Can you tell me…”
  • Dropping words out of the sentence: they customers”, “he the man
  • Using the wrong tense of a verb: “He have drunk that soda before.”
  • Calling people by inappropriate monikers, racial monikers, or physical monikers: “not had”, “fatso”, “chink”, “spec”, “retard”
  • Double negative: “I don’t got none”
  • Use of the word “like” and overuse of the word “like”: “Like you know?”
  • “Dis” instead of “this”
  • Speaking about sensitive or taboo topics which might make conversation uncomfortable for the others listening
  • Pointing out what you perceive as mistakes in others
  • Mocking other people in sounds or words
  • Ebonics and ‘talkin’ Texan’ should not be an excuse to use poor grammar
  • Confrontational speech with attitude tone and being resistant to almost anything
  • Not speaking to the level of the other person with use of unequal vocabulary, speed, proper tone of voice, language, or holding multiple conversations within the same conversation if they cannot understand or respond
  • Forgetting to use “please”, “thank you”, and “I am sorry”

Style your character. Use proper speech.

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Rolling Out Rude. Rebutting Rudeness.

Flippant comments, rude gestures and actions, mudslinging, and other communication that can’t be humanely understood. Rudeness diminishes and demeans. It devalues the other person through intimidation, threatens, and humiliates. A person is unconsciously seeking control over another person by being rude. Instead of the ‘namaste’ of each person bowing to another person with dignity and respect, one person must ‘conquer’ over the other by making an impolite statement. 

Everyone encounters impoliteness throughout the day. It almost inevitable if people are going to interact with each other. We all have different personalities, backgrounds, and issues which affect our mood. Some people are more adept at controlling reactions and responses more than others. These words which spew out thoughtlessly, or in some cases, intentionally, can be very hurtful to the other party. In today’s culture, it has become acceptable to say whatever is on our mind, whereas in the past the social expectation was to uphold a higher standard of politeness. At a minimum you were expected to be cordial, but impolite rude statements were unthinkable. What we allow is what we make the culture of today and the future to be. Understanding rudeness and how to counter it makes for more civilized society.

There are two kinds of rudeness: focused rudeness and unfocused rudeness. Focused rudeness is rudeness which is targeted at another person and is mean-spirited. There is a deliberate intent of insulting another person and causing a loss for them. Examples of this can be interrupting, gossiping, or controlling a situation to create disadvantage. Unfocused rudeness is usually self-centered, lack of consideration for others such as talking loudly on a cell phone, taking up too much space when space is limited, or cutting in front of line. It is taking liberties without the consideration of the next person. Of course by human nature we are inclined to occasionally make thoughtless and unkind statements or do things which are inconsiderate. While these are impolite, usually they are corrected quickly by those with well-formed consciences, followed by an apology.

There are health effects associated with rudeness. Rudeness can cause unnecessary stress, cardiovascular disease, damage self-esteem, cause mental anguish, emotional problems, lower morale and make daily life and work difficult. Relationships are damaged with rudeness. Over the course of time relationships deteriorate with continual impoliteness which stem from bad manners.

Rudimentary Causes of Rudeness
Rudeness can be a result of internal and external factors. In today’s world, we live in a strangeropolis society. People are perfectly happy being self-absorbed on their cell phones and computers. It is not unusual to not interact with other people for an entire day or even more. People do not care to know other people in person, or even try, because we don’t have to. We are self-sufficient and any information we need can be obtained with technology. However, what technology doesn’t offer as well is the ability to feel the emotion of the person in front of you. Especially when it comes to differences, they are easier to work out in person. Expressions give away hurt feelings, and it is more probable that the rudeness will cease as a result. However, expressions are not 100% foolproof as a means to identify how someone feels. Hurt can be concealed and may silently build up with repeated rudeness.

It is easier to be rude to strangers because we do not really care about them or their lives. It is easier to be polite, if the person is known, as with friends or known acquaintances, because care exists. Human-to-human interactions are an essential part of the human existence. To live as a single is more common than ever before making connecting with people in society even more important. Individuals who live by themselves must connect together in ‘smaller-societies’ whether they are friendships, social groups, or communities. There is a starvation of humanity to be in isolation disconnected from in-person human interactions. We were not put here to connect with others only through our cell phones and computers. When we are in these social circles, we are forced to get along and meld our differences finding compromise or acceptance. It is easier to be polite to those we love and those in front of us, rather than to strangers and people we do not know.

For the cyber-inclined what better refuge than to hide behind the screen of the computer or cell phone. By becoming an avatar or an emoji, we can hide safely and communicate when we want and avoid conversations when we want. There also can be miscommunication in how we might really feel. Video communication may seem that we are instantly connected and are ‘there’ more than ever. However, there is a part of human dignity which is missing from this when it becomes the primary way to communicate. It is a subliminal rudeness when the value of ‘not being there in person’ takes precedent over real-time human presence. There is no replacement for people being face-to-face. Impoliteness is bred when we do not connect in person with people.

Along with communicating via technology, what is acceptable to speak about has metamorphosed. Verbal impoliteness is not being thoughtful with speech. In the past, society had a level of civility which was expected which is lacking today. In many cases, we can speak freely whatever is on our mind, with our opinions at the forefront. What we have to say trumps over any consideration of how it may affect the other person. Culture is much more casual and rudeness has become not just more acceptable, but the standard.

Of course we all have bad days. We have our lives and issues which arise which may cause us to become more easily frustrated with other people and are impolite. How we react is something to be mastered. Some resort to counting before speaking. Others quickly paint situations differently in their mind before responding more positively. Some people are naturally witty and are able to counter impoliteness with humor. Others just blurt out the truth and then tip toe back across the line of being polite again apologizing for their boldness in speech.

A lack of balance can cause rudeness. When a person’s needs are not met, it is fertile ground for impoliteness to sprout. Being sick, tired, or hungry can cause a person to be rude toward others. When we are loved and well nourished, it is much easier to be positive and polite. Being self-centered or being materialistic can also cause rudeness. This can include being too busy for other people, being self-absorbed in work, or viewing self-worth above all others. Rudeness can materialize also, if a person is consumed with materialism. The latest fad becomes more important. Being forgotten and less important, the other individual can become rude. Likewise, insecurities and injustices can cause rudeness because the human worth is not being met with the dignity that is deserved.

Responding to Rudeness
Making a call on intentionally rude people can be a challenging encounter. Depending on the situation, it may be best to say nothing. Silence and curt words can indicate the impoliteness as can expressions. This may be enough to deflate the attention the person is seeking. However, the clearest way to counter impoliteness, is to address it directly and concisely. The impolite person may not realize the effects of what they are saying. Some of the classiest ways to respond to rudeness are with clever, friendly comebacks, but not everyone has this talent. When you are caught off guard and do not know what to say, remember to be polite and gracious in your response. Never feed into the rudeness combating it with rudeness. This will only escalate incivility. Appreciate the fact that the other person is entitled to their own opinion, and acknowledge this, but point out that the rudeness was offensive and hurtful. Keep positive in your response and also optimistic of a positive change from the other person. 

Running from Rudeness
Perhaps you have had a run in with rudeness within your own personality and are interested in being more cultured with kindness and politeness. Jot down situations where you have been less than kind and reflect on how you would respond differently next time. Reflect on how you can make those situations right, if possible, and apologize to the person. Practicing compassion and empathy helps to foster politeness. When you try to understand another person’s situation from their point of view, you’ll find it is next to impossible to be as rude to them. Spend time with people who you have a tendency to be rude to. Get to know them and learn more about them. You may find out you did not have all the information you initially thought. Finally, it is easy to jump on-board with the popularity of gossip. Gossip will form ways of thinking with propaganda of what ‘should’ be believed. You may find yourself aligned with a popularity wave and have no idea how these opinions are rudeness to another or affecting their life. Go the extra mile by giving compliments and spreading a good word about other people to counter digression and foster politeness.

An ‘A’ in Apology
Apologies are gems at restoring relationships and honoring dignity. If you want to be more polite, first start with reflecting on how you may have hurt another person by being rude or insulting them. Then work on mastering sincerity in an apology. The steps to a successful apology are reflection, communication, contrition, and resolution. First reflect on how you were impolite. Communicate to the other person how you can understand of how your rudeness must have affected them. Tell them you are truly sorry with all contriteness, promising not to do it again. Then resolve sincerely to try hard not to do it again.

Rebutting rudeness and rolling in kindness is a call for a higher standard of civilized culture. Rudeness causes hurt feelings at a minimum. Humans find common ground by understanding the experience of another. With empathy, you can relate to what another person may be feeling or the situation they are going through. It is much harder to be rude when you can find care for another person. Interesting enough, the swing of the pendulum can continue to go to yet the other extreme. The Greek philosopher, Aesop once said ‘familiarity breeds contempt or acquaintances softens prejudices’. It is more difficult to be rude to a person who you know. It is easier to be rude to a stranger or someone you don’t understand. With greater familiarity, it becomes easier to take the relationship for granted which can result in the breakdown again of politeness. In all cases, the classiest method is to think of the other before self, stop the mud-slinging of impoliteness, and choose to be polite and kind instead.

—Clean Up Dallas with Culture and Kindness
Be Cultured. Be Kind.

[written for @cultureofkind]

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by Danny Wallace (Author, Narrator)

Etiquette to Please

Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others.
If you have that awareness, you have good manners,
no matter what fork you use.”
—Emily Post

Culture and Kindness Through the Ages

Learning rules for etiquette and how to be kind usually come from our parents. The word ‘etiquette’ and rules for etiquette were first established within the French royal court between 1600-1700. Etiquette has since manifested to the unwritten rules for etiquette which we have today. Some of these still are in place, while overall etiquette, in many ways, has become much less formal.

How far does society go before it is realized that offensive words and actions really are inappropriate? Tolerability becomes acceptance and then acceptance becomes the standard. Eventually, the standard becomes engrained in culture, far removed from the initial level of what was acceptable. “Is acceptable now” and “was acceptable before”, if compared side by side would make the differences between the two more obvious—so much so that we might even instantly correct ourselves. It is not often this is reflected on. Perhaps looking at the masters of politeness, today’s experts on manners and respect, can serve as new-found consciences to help hone in on etiquette practices which have fallen away and are relevant to today’s culture. Today’s speech and actions may seem preferred because they are casual and candid, but the truth is, they are often times more damaging and unkind. There is a digression of culture in respectfulness toward one another that has been caused as a result of this.

The understanding of common etiquette has been contributed to by many world cultures over the course of human existence. As far back as 2400 BC, the Egyptians had rules written in a book including how to interact with superiors. Small polite phrases such as “Bless you” originated as early as 590 AD when Pope Gregory ordered that each person who sneezes be blessed, because of the Plague. In 1290 AD, a Milanese monk, named Bonvicino da Riv, wrote a book called, Fifty Courtesies of the Table, which covered manners at the table while eating. Many of these same manners we follow even today such as eating with a closed mouth, not picking your teeth, and turn your head when coughing and sneezing.

Establishing practices for good manners and politeness was even more in place in France at the time of King Louis XIV. In the 1600s, at Versailles, King Louis XIV’s gardener was working in the garden. The garden has signs in place to indicate where not to walk as he was working. These signs were called ‘etiquette’ in French, or ‘place cards’. Despite having these signs in place, the aristocrats walked where they pleased. King Louis XIV ordered that the etiquette boundaries must be observed. Following this, the word ‘etiquette’ became the phrase for boundaries within the court.

Within our own country, George Washington, wrote a book on Rules of Civility. In 1922, Emily Post published Etiquette—In Society, In Business, In Politics and At Home. Judith Martin, or “Ms. Manners” is well-known today for her column and books as a guide to good manners. Peggy Post, Emily’s great-granddaughter wrote a book, The Etiquette Advantage in Business: Personal Skills for Professional Success, and also has several books on Internet etiquette.

Wisdom can be found from lessons of etiquette and manners formed over the course of history. Practicing good etiquette is always the best policy for kindness, politeness, and respectfulness, which improves the culture of society. When speaking, here are a few easy suggestions to remember for practicing good etiquette:

• Speak softly
• Always answer when someone speaks to you
• Remember to use “Excuse me”, “Please”, and “Thank you”
• Be sincere in giving and receiving compliments  
• Respect the personal space and beliefs of the other person
• Realize the human dignity of all people and be respectful

[written for @cultureofkind]

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George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation
(Little Books of Wisdom)

by George Washington

Etiquette—In Society, In Business, In Politics and At Home
by Emily Post

The Etiquette Advantage in Business: Personal Skills for Professional Success
by Emily Post

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Compliments—a Spoken Gift of Kindness

Complimentary thoughts spoken can be twice as powerful when shared. Sincere compliments are thoughtful ways to express admiration toward someone. It is a way to politely and honestly say that you admire or appreciate a quality about another person. It warms the heart and often brings a smile. When was the last time you gave someone a compliment?

Compliments are not as popular as they used to be. Sarcasm and cut-downs are more commonly heard as the trend, tainted with the preferred flavor of negativity. Much of the time, it can be the culture of the circle of people you surround yourself with or interact with throughout the day. These groups, whether personal or professional, may classify negative comments or thoughtless remarks as “it is just the way it is, and we don’t mean to hurt anyone, and we all understand that”. Or do they? These type of remarks can hit the core of people and may be absorbed without expressing the hurt they cause the person. Compliments bring positive energy, boosting the mood of the one it is given to and often the result is the person responding with positive energy. It is unquestionably a sprinkle of praise which can do a world of good, beyond that which you may never even realize.

A compliment is easy to give to someone you know, but it must be genuinely said with sincerity and within the right context. If you compliment someone in the wrong context, the compliment could easily be an insult rather than a compliment. It is easiest to compliment people who are known because we already know the qualities we like about them. How frequently do you appreciate these qualities by vocalizing them? Try to make complimenting as part of your list each day and compliment 1-3 people. Don’t be shy.

For those who appreciate and practice spirituality, we can also compliment the Creator by making compliments throughout the day about the beauty around us. This is a healthy step away from electronics and the busyness of life by noticing the natural world that we often don’t notice. Take a break, observe, and give Him a compliment, saying “I like that sunrise.”, or “You did a great job on the flowers and the squirrels.”, “Thank you for creating these people whom I appreciate and whom I see You in, in all their many positive qualities.”

We run into plenty of strangers during the day who we can also compliment. These compliments generally are about external qualities that are observed, such as attractive physical looks or appearance such as clothing. However, compliments can also be given for an action such as opening a door. It is polite to return a compliment for the thoughtfulness of an act of kindness, as it acknowledges and praises the person in appreciation. This promotes a culture of kindness and is a positive way to encourage kindness.

So take care to spread this little love of kindness selectively and only when you truly mean it. Some recipients may respond back negating the comment. React with a big smile, reassuring them that you speak in truth. Give someone a compliment today! 

Here are a list of compliments. Pick a few to use today or come up with your own!

You did a great job.
Your perspective is so refreshing.
You are an awesome friend.
You are more helpful than you realize.
I like your sense of humor.
You’re even more beautiful on the inside than you are on the outside.
You bring out the best in people.
You are a good example.
You’re a great listener.
You smell good.
You’re inspiring.
You are brave.
You are strong.
You’re one of a kind.
You have the best ideas.
You are so creative.
You always know what to say.
You’re so thoughtful.
You’re gorgeous.
You’re the coolest person I know.
You look nice today.
You are beautiful.
I think you are handsome.
I appreciate you.
I like your style.
You are one of the nicest people I know.
You have the best laugh.
You’re a gift to those around you.
I am so proud of your accomplishments.
Look at you, you are dressed so nicely today.
Thank you for helping me.
Thank you for your encouragement.
You made my day.
You are super.
I enjoy being around you.
I really appreciate that you respect my privacy.
Thank you for respecting when I say “stop”.
Thank you for respecting my space.
Thank you for respecting my wishes when I say “no”.
Thank you for making time for me in person.
Hanging out with you is always a blast.
I know I can trust you.
I know that I can confide in you because you are trustworthy.
Thank you for your honesty.
Thank you for being you.
This dish you made is fabulous.
That is a really great idea.
I am proud of you.
You can always find the right words to say, even when everything is wrong.
People pay attention and respect you.
You are a role model to so many.
I admire your patience.
All of your hard work shows with how this has turned out.
You worked really hard on that and it certainly was worth the time and energy in the end.
You are so organized and neat.
You are so resourceful.
You are such a blessing.
You are a spiritual role model.
You are a great teacher.
Thank you for showing me.
Thank you for sharing.
You are so thoughtful.
That means so much to me.
Thank you for taking the time.
You are making a difference.

If you were a box of crayons, you’d be the giant name-brand one with the built-in sharpener.
You’re all that and a super-size bag of chips.
Aside from food, you’re my favorite.
You’re more fun than bubble wrap.
I bet you do the crossword puzzle in ink.
There’s ordinary, and then there’s you.
You’re better than a triple-scoop ice cream cone. With sprinkles.

[written for @cultureofkind]

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