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Three things in human life are important: The first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; the third is to be kind.

                ~Henry James, American-British Author

In our evolving Covid-19 world, it’s not hard to find rude people. You’ll encounter them at home, online, at school, and even in the workplace. From snarky comments on social media to combative chatter on the news or simply walking down the street, it feels like society is less courteous. Since September is National Courtesy Month, let’s use these 30 days to practice kindness. Although I’m a research nerd; I wasn’t able to locate the source of National Courtesy Month. However, I did discover Singapore’s June, 1979 National Courtesy Campaign. It was initiated by their Ministry of Culture to encourage more consideration and kindness between Singapore’s citizens.

Did you know the word courteous derives from the Middle English word kindness? This word kindness means ‘noble deeds’ or ‘courtesy’. So, what does it mean to be courteous?

Here are 8 tips on how to up your courtesy game, both professionally and socially:

  1. Remember it’s not about you. Paulo Coelho’s famous quote “How people treat other people is a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves.” This is often true. We just don’t know the burdens that others carry so remember to be kind.
  2. Meditate. According to ABC News, meditation helps reduce stress while also controlling anger and frustration. Try one of these apps, or sit quietly for 5-10 minutes daily.
  3. Think first. The old adage to count to 10 before responding (not reacting) is wise and something that many of us practice and improve.
  4. Listen more. It’s challenging to be in the presence of those who don’t listen and constantly interrupt. Use the 80/20 rule. Spend 80% of the time listening and only 20% of the time talking. Your family and colleagues will feel important and valued.
  5. Small acts. Unless your job is WFH, you share a workspace. It is believed that acts of kindness make a positive change. Offer to bring or buy coffee or tea for a coworker.
  6. Compliment co-workers and employees. It is easy to forget how good it feels to receive compliments from your co-workers or bosses. Compliment the good work of others. It will make a considerable impact in the way others perceive you and the synergy of the working space.
  7. Avoid engaging. Some people can be energy vampires. Don’t let them bring you down. Sometimes it’s best to change the discussion topic or keep your opinion to yourself.
  8. Allow others to go first. Whether in the elevatortraffic, a building, taking the first bite at a meal – if you are unsure, allow the other person to go first and observe.

What better way to observe National Courtesy Month than to pivot and think before reacting with anger, rudeness, or disrespect. According to LIVESciencepeople respond better when treated courteously. Maybe our conflicts can be resolved by responding with consideration. How will you be observing National Courtesy Month?

Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She’s a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.

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