Common courtesy really isn’t all that common anymore. Very rarely do you see someone holding a door for someone at a gas station or picking up something they dropped. You don’t hear in the coffee shop or read online, any more intelligent discussions of both sides of an issue. It seems that no one has the respect for one another that each one of us deserves.
Courtesy goes beyond these two examples when talking in the context of being a good friend. All it means to be courteous is to be polite in your actions towards others. You don’t need to bend over backwards to help everyone you come across. You don’t need to hold the door for the entire restaurant, nor do you need to agree with the argument the other side is presenting, you just need to understand and be polite. Simple enough.
For example, when I was a freshman in college, there was a smokeshow of a girl that lived upstairs. I met her in August and I asked her out every day until Halloween. FINALLY, around Halloween, she said that she’ll go out on a date with me. I opened the door for her when we got to my car (R.I.P. Lucy Lincoln) and when we got to the restaurant, I opened the first set of doors. I didn’t pull out her chair when we sat down and I totally used the crayons they gave us and drew a great dinosaur. We had a great time and I can tell you that 7 years later, she’s still my girlfriend.
I didn’t do everything that a knight in shining armor would have done. I, by no means, am a knight in shining armor. I made a fool of myself basically but she paid attention to none of that. What she admired about our first date was the fact that I actually listened to her side of the discussion, appreciated with what she had to say and come to believe then gave her my point of view. She really didn’t care what my point of view was but she listened because she was being polite.
Courtesy and politeness are necessary to develop a good friendship. You can have some fantastic conversations and overall great times while still remaining polite and courteous to those around you. Try to practice basic courtesy by saying please and thank you to people you interact with. If you are at a restaurant and the waiter/waitress comes by and fills your water, say thank you. They really don’t hear that enough. When you are walking out of a building, always take a really quick glance behind you to see if anyone is following. If they are close to you, stand there for a second until they can get the door themselves. They aren’t going to give you a tip so there is no point in standing there too long. Try to congratulate people what have just achieved something. After every sports game, the two teams shake hands in some fashion. If a quarterback and a defensive lineman can shake hands after a game, you can congratulate someone for their own achievements.
Another great way to practice courtesy is to learn how to greet people. Don’t say “hey” or “what’s up” if you don’t know the person. A simple thing like, “nice to meet you” will be enough. Don’t forget their name when the conversation ends. That usually ends a little awkward. Say excuse me when you need to move by someone that you don’t know.
It’s the simple things that really forge the beginnings of a friendship and a strong foundation to a friendship ensures smooth sailing for the road ahead (cars and boats, really?).
What do you guys think? Anything I missed? Like I said, I’m no knight in shining armor so I’m sure there are plenty. Sound off in the comments and forums and teach each other how to be polite and courteous.