Often a grandparental style gripe – “kids these days!” or “back in my day!” we may well have previously rolled our eyes to the insistence by our elders upon the quaint ways of a dim and dusty past.
Chivalry and all that, the formal ways of addressing those older and wiser than us, the polite and proper “niceties” of society. In the midst of our flashy, trendy, drama filled young person lives, we would scoff at these museum relic ways of human interaction.
Who has the time? Who is so stiff and formal? We are chilled; we are laid back, man! Open a door, or pull up a chair for a “lady”, and you may well be sued for harassment, or decked … Well, perhaps a slight exaggeration, but certainly in pretty much the majority of our social interactions, the casual approach is key. Of course, the massive technological advancements of the internet age have had a huge impact on the way we communicate – after all, many “strangers” are no longer that strange, as we’ve emailed them or seen them pop up on Facebook.
This is all well and good and potentially time saving and a lot less awkward than typical Victorian era introductions, I would imagine, but could it be that many of us secretly hark back to a time when ladies were ladies, and gentlemen, were – ahem – actually gentlemen?
In the same way we crave an actual handwritten letter as opposed to the constant barrage of emails, this sentimental harking back to the ways of old is apparent when it comes to the kind of service people really appreciate in a restaurant.
It turns out that most absolutely love a little TLC and a bit of extra time taken. Those belonging to older generations than our own especially relish the rituals of polite society – a door opened for them, the elder person allowed to go first, a chair pulled out. Even, being addressed as “sir” or “ma’am”.
All too often throughout the hectic lives that we lead, the constant rushing around and daily pressures leave us harried and distracted.
It is all too easy to forget to consider others, to be abrupt or brusque, or to simply push past someone when we are in a hurry.
The fact is, this eternal truth of life as a human remains constant – you never, ever know what sort of day someone else is having. It could be one inconsiderate gesture, or one distracted lack of acknowledgement that someone else perceives as the most extreme rudeness, or worse still, it could be the thing that sends someone, just on the brink of despair – over the edge.
This is absolutely why it is really vitally important to respect our fellow human beings in these small ways, and to not lose the manners we learnt from our elders (as well as our grammar – another disappearing skill in this computer age – thank goodness for spell check!)
These conventions, archaic and unnecessary in the eyes of “youth of today”, are in fact the little touches that pepper our verbal and written interactions with a bit more care – a bit of respect for the person we are communicating with.
Without wanting to be seen as an “oldie” and whilst for the most part quite enjoying our free and effortless modern ways of interacting – I certainly am not advocating a return to the olden days, but more so an approach where the relaxed and informal way we live now is combined with a continued effort to maintain politeness and the convention of manners.
Simply because often it really is just the little touches that make the biggest impression!