Posts Tagged ‘Politeness’



A friend and I enjoyed a bit of clearance shopping last week.  As she gleaned one rack, I gleaned another.  It was while scooting hangers left to right that a sweater fell to the floor. I bent over to pick it up and my sunglasses fell from their perch on my head. Quick as a wink, though, a nearby shopper (not my friend) retrieved them.

“Wow!” I exclaimed, taking back the sunglasses. “That has to be the fastest ‘pay it forward’ in history! Thank you!”

With a big smile for me, she returned to her shopping.

What a contrast to other shopping experiences, when someone has:

  • Bumped past me with her cart without an “Excuse me.”
  • Sauntered with two or three others down the middle of the parking lot lane, oblivious to the fact they’re holding up traffic.
  • Walked through a door I have held open without saying, “Thank you.”

Common courtesy seems to be disappearing from society, as some people have allowed the constant pursuit of self-interests to turn into self-absorption. Perhaps they think worrying about other people’s feelings is a waste of time and energy.   Others may see customs of politeness as downright archaic and puritanical.

The truth is, courtesy and consideration can do us a world of good. Research indicates that kind deeds release feel-good endorphins into our nervous systems. Benefits include diminished pain, decreased depression, and relieved stress. (1).

Of course, the Bible has taught the value of kindness all along (2).




Yet some folks cringe at the thought of teaching scriptural principles to our children in school or holding ourselves to those standards. “Legalistic!” they claim.

But would it be so horrible if we:

  • Cheerfully greeted one another, even if we’re strangers?
  • Allowed others to enter a building or aisle first?
  • Held doors for one another?
  • Treated service personnel (clerks, wait staff, attendants, etc.) with friendly respect?
  • Said “thank you” at every opportunity?
  • Followed the Golden Rule that Jesus taught (Matthew 7:12)?




Good manners are based on good principles; good principles are found throughout the Bible.

And Biblical principles not only provide positive impact on people (and our own nervous systems!), but may very well form the foundation of a strong nation:


“Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws

will secure the liberty and happiness of a people

whose manners are universally corrupt.”

–American statesman, Samuel Adams (1722-1803)






*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Oh, Lord, help me leave footprints of kindness wherever I go, to live out your Golden Rule for the benefit of others and for the praise of your glory.  May others know I’m a Christian by the cross I wear and the love I share.


(1) Allan Luks, The Healing Power of Doing Good (2001).

(2) Examples include: Galatians 5:22-23, Ephesians 4:32, and 1 Peter 2:17.


(Art & photo credits:  www.allthingstarget.com; http://www.etsy.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.askideas.com.)

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In one scene of What’s Up Doc? (an old screwball comedy from 1972, starring Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal), a hotel concierge wants the gruff house detective to stop a particular woman from leaving the hotel.

“And how am I supposed to do that?” inquires the detective with much sarcasm.

“Use your charm,” replies the concierge.

So when the woman enters the lobby and heads for the doors, the detective…

…trips the unsuspecting victim, causing her to sprawl in a most unladylike fashion on the floor.

Charming indeed.

I dare say some folks are just about as clueless as that detective when it comes to such an illusive quality as charm. Just what is it that makes a person charming?

One important quality, for sure, is respect.

And it happens to be a biblical concept:

“Show proper respect to everyone.”

(1 Peter 2:17)

M-m-m. Everyone. Not just the people at church on a Sunday morning, or at the meeting with the boss on Monday—but with family, and those with whom we have little in common, and even those we don’t particularly like.

But how do we demonstrate such over-arching respect?

Here are ten possibilities. (And while you’re reading, consider:  Which of these strategies, when administered to you, have made you feel especially respected?)

  1. Politeness – even at home. Be on the alert for rudeness, sarcasm, and inconsiderate comments or behavior. Even family members deserve to be treated politely. Make home a haven of kindness.
  1. Tact.  Perhaps your mother was like mine, offering the frequent reminder, “THINK before you speak.” It was wise advice.


  1. Gratitude.  Never let an opportunity pass by to say “thank you” for the least of favors or the smallest of gifts. Try to be a person who notices.
  1. Thoughtfulness — demonstrates that you value the other person. Let the Golden Rule be your guide.
  1. Compliments — especially in the hearing of others. Plant a lot of positive input into the people around you, and make their souls blossom.


  1. Focused Listening—with eyes as well as ears. Even if you can recite his last sentence word for word, but your eyes were on the door, on the kids, or on a screen (as in TV, computer, iPhone, etc.) he will assume you’re not interested.
  1. Reliability.  Keep promises and commitments; be on time for appointments or engagements. Consideration of these matters indicates you truly care about the other person.

Respect also requires that we avoid certain behaviors:

  1. Avoid comparisons to others. Suggesting that Jake be more like Zeke is deflating and demoralizing, not helpful.
  1. Avoid criticism unless absolutely necessary. Share judgments carefully, sandwiched between positive and affirming comments. NEVER criticize in front of others.


  1. Avoid making corrections, especially in the company of others. Does it really matter if an event happened on Tuesday, not Wednesday, or that the car was a Ford and not a Chevy? Interrupting with unimportant corrections borders on rudeness. Yes, it does.

I’ve heard some people say, “If So-and-So wants respect, she needs to earn it.”

In my younger years, I made similar remarks, too. I wish I’d known better.

The truth of the matter is:

“The way we treat others is more about who we are,

not who they are.”

(Source unknown)

Perhaps the above list can be our guide.

So! Did you agree wholeheartedly with one or more of these evidences of respect–because you’ve been treated that way, and felt valued as a result? Tell us about it in the comment section below!

(Art & photo credits:  www.pinterest.com; http://www.wpclipart.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.quotescover.som.)


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