Why Bother With Common Courtesies?


Why Bother With Common Courtesies? 

  Merriam Webster tells me that a common courtesy is, “politeness that people can usually be expected to show.”  I don’t believe the knack for practicing common courtesies is something we are born with. Yet every child knows when they’ve been treated impolitely. How many times have you heard, “That’s not fair,” shouted from the mouth of a little child? Innately, I think we all know how we should be treated, but treating others with commons courtesies is not necessarily intrinsic. 

If Parents Don’t Teach Common Courtesies, Who Will?

Raising my sons, I knew it was up to me to shape them into civil human beings. I’d read a book from an author whose forte was the subject of parenting and he impressed upon me that we are just one generation away from producing a riotous and discourteous society. 

At times, teaching my young sons to say the simple words, please and thank you, became a bit of a wrestling match. Though I could give them “the look” to remind them to say, “please,” when they’d ask for another cookie, when they’d grab hold of the sweet treat, I didn’t let go until they’d said, “Thank-you.” Sometimes the cookie crumbled, and other times it did not. Eventually, they caught on and politeness was instilled. 

In my classroom, I get a few students who forget how to be polite. But it only takes one or two bright and mannerly children to remind them how it is done. When delivering corrected papers to a students’ desks, I’ll start with one or two of the most well-behaved and mannerly students in my class knowing I will receive a gentle thank you from them. Their thoughtful words then have a domino effect on the rest of the class. I’ll get twenty more, “Thank you Mrs. Luikens,” as I work my way up and down the aisle delivering papers and they’ll all get a teacher’s smile.  

One of my more polite students began saying, “Have a nice afternoon, Mrs. Luikens,” when dismissing him for the day from my classroom. Now, that is everyone’s habit as they go out the door. Good manners carry a lot of influence in creating a pleasant culture in the classroom as well as making their teacher happy. Who doesn’t want a cheerful teacher?

My husband, a builder, takes pride in carefully crafting each and every structure he builds. From million dollar homes, to modest homes and garages, he uses the same care in measuring, cutting and leveling walls, floors and roofs. He’s just doing his job, but when a client says, “thank you,” then he knows just how much they appreciate his talent. Building for grateful people makes his job site a pleasant place for everyone.  

Common ordinary people do common ordinary jobs, day in and day out. But, when we tell someone thank you, their smile can be as bright as a colorful bouquet on a gray January day. Saying thank you is free, receiving it warms the heart and an atmosphere of  gratitude makes a better space for everyone. 

Why bother with common courtesies? It is worth it to say thank you. The smile you get in return just might brighten up your gray January day.

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A heart's journey to forgiveness book by Terese Luikens