Picture these scenes:
You’re in a coffee shop where people are absorbed by the screens of their laptops, and don’t even look up when a tray clatters to the floor.
You’re at a luncheon and your lunch dates are constantly peering at their phones, anticipating incoming messages and looking stressed and fidgety when nothing’s coming in.
You get the picture.
Call it old-fashioned, out-of-date or not-with-the program, but I’m on a mission to bring “social” back to real life. Don’t get me wrong. I love the tools of social media. They’ve brought so many new friends into my world, connected me with invaluable lessons and information, broadened my perspective and enriched my life.
BUT…I’m not plugged into them 24/7. AND…I still believe in good manners.
Here’s my manifesto:
I will not walk and text. I will actually look at people, smile at them and nod or say a hello.
I will regularly look up from my laptop at the coffee shop, observe what’s going on around me and be of assistance wherever possible (like helping pick up the tray that somebody dropped, or helping someone who’s struggling with their parcels)
I will NOT have my phone on the table when I’m joining people for lunch.
I will remember at all times that “people in person” can be offended, overlooked and ignored, and opportunities will be missed when I’m engaged on tools, to the exclusion of awareness of the people, places and things around me.
And, as always, I will continue to:
- Make eye contact with people – on the subway, while walking down the street, in line at the store, on the escalator, and I will smile and nod.
- Be helpful. Open a door for someone, or hold it open for the person behind me (yes, even if it takes a precious extra minute out of my day:)
- Engage in chit-chat, conversation, smiles and laughter with strangers, when opportunities arise.
- Be open, aware, kind, courteous and respectful of the people around me, and strive to do whatever I can to interact, engage and bring a little smile to their day.
These things are not profound, but they are profoundly missing in many public and social settings that I encounter. I know that young people say “that’s just the way it is. It’s the way we’ve grown up. It’s how we communicate and behave.” I get that. But if I can, by my behaviour, demonstrate another way…communicating and behaving in a way that engages more fully those people who are physically in my presence and sphere of influence, well…that’s what I’m gonna’ do. Maybe it will rub off.
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