Courtesy costs nothing; good manners even less

I wish we could teach mindfulness and critical thought to the population.

We have computers nowadays to work out the mundane stuff so let’s use that saved time and energy to deepen our ability to think. As humans with brains that allow us to creatively reason, rhyme and rationalise, we don’t invest enough resources, time and energy into using our minds for consideration, innovation and general mindfulness.

Not just the kind of ‘oh can you hold the door open for me?” type of consideration but the deep-set ‘I’m understanding the world through your eyes’ type of consideration.

We’re all selfish at times; we do it out of self-preservation, greed or insecurity. It’s easy to blame selfishness on ignorance, emotion or circumstance; fabricating reason, stories and evidence to justify the decisions that you made.

Every time you make a decision to serve your purpose, it typically will come at the cost of something. Maybe it’s your health, your time, your money; things you can reasonably justify and shrug your shoulders at. After all, if you waste them, you only have yourself to blame and curse.

The problem is, most of us overstep the line and impose our selfish desires onto others. And this is when people get a bit upset.

Maybe you cut someone off because you wanted to be first? Maybe you stole something because you wanted it? Maybe you wasted someone’s time as they patiently waited for you? Maybe you have relationships that serve a physical/emotional purpose for you despite knowing that the other party benefits little to nothing.

When it comes to stealing, cutting someone off in traffic or even wasting someone’s time, the consequences are relatively clear. You either get jailed, shot/have a crash or rejected. However when it comes to people and the feelings of others, the consequences run much deeper.

So deep in fact, that people have sacrificed their lives and liberty to fight for causes that assaulted their principles, their beliefs and their feelings. It’s not that you stole their watch or cheated on them, it’s that you didn’t consider the repercussions you were forcibly donating to them. Fear, hurt, anger, anxiety, hardship to mention a few. Claiming ignorance doesn’t change a thing for them, in fact it just fuels the fire.

It’s why we’re taught to say please, thank you and good day. Manners matter because it represents a mindful consideration of the feelings of others. I’m appalled when I see peers ask a waitress for something and neglect the please and thank you part of the interaction. Most even avoid eye contact which sickens me. Sure, she might be used to it but it doesn’t mean it’s okay.

Manners are such a basic courtesy yet people can be so self-absorbed that they can’t hold the call, pause a conversation or divert their attention for a second. And critics, please save me the ‘but I’m really busy’ or ‘that’s their job’ bullshit.

Stop being so rude and thank the person who is serving you dinner. I don’t care that you’re paying for it; they’re of service to you, not in servitude.

Just like manners, practicing self-control in relationships requires a similar congruence of mindfulness, consideration and selflessness.

Self control covers the aspects of relationships that have emotional investment. A best friend, a lover, a partner, a neighbour or a family member. Self-control tells you what to do when you see the opportunity to take ‘what you want and need’ from a situation knowing others will be impacted. You know deep down that it’s never going to be ‘harmless’ despite how you pitch it. It’s what makes you stop, think and act differently; It’s called your conscience.

Cheating, lying, deception and betrayal are all very strong words when it comes to describing the pain a relationship can bring. Whether it’s business, intimate, personal or even family, we’re all too familiar with feeling taken for a ride and then being spoon fed justifications, reasons and even lies.

They make us uneasy, they break trust and despite our emotional desire to return to normal, lack of consideration and mindfulness often score a permanent scar through a relationship, even if scars can be treated and softened in time.

There is one type of scar however which isn’t commonly talked about and it doesn’t go away. The garden path.

‘Being lead down the garden path’ is a colloquialism for being mislead. Perhaps it’s a sketchy salesman, a vague explanation from a lover or just a self-serving desire to get laid, be comforted or get to a desired selfish outcome. It’s when you withhold information, give vague commitment or speak in circles in order to confuse, misdirect and give false hope to others.

It’s a tactic to keep people ‘on the hook’ until you can figure out what you want to do. It seems innocuous and it’s rampant in the modern day business, dating and friendship scene – and I hate it.

The garden path is not given the same weight as lying and cheating simply because it’s often done with sensitive conversation, apparent consideration and it takes many many weeks, months and years to evolve. However leading others down a garden path could be considered the most treacherous act of selfishness of all.

It’s one thing to steal from me because you want my watch. It’s another to befriend me for the purpose of serving your own agenda without consideration to my feelings.

I’m not talking about interdependent relationships and people providing strengths to others’ weaknesses; I’m referring to friends, colleagues and peers who will happily drink from your cup of life whilst stealing the emotional silverware because it makes them happy or feeds their own insecurities.

I remember my grandfather would say over and over to me as a child, “Courtesy costs nothing; good manners even less”. Why have we become ‘too good’ and clever to thoughtfully consider others especially it if means we have go without? This isn’t progress.

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