Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly common to hear, read and see examples of bad behavior in all walks of life.
Being bombarded with this information on a regular basis raises questions about who we are and what we value and will tolerate as a society. It’s no wonder we’re all asking, “Has our society become too relaxed?” and “Has this become an ‘anything goes’ world?”
We all are responsible for setting the bar for our own behavior. We should also expect a certain standard of behavior in others, especially those in a position of power. While in some ways the world has become more casual and some people may feel emboldened to act with relaxed standards, there are certain lines which should never be crossed. These three behaviors are unacceptable in a civilized society.
Just turn on the news—you can’t avoid the conversation. Without question, no inappropriate overtures of any kind should be tolerated. There is no embarrassment or shame in speaking up. Respond to an overture or suggestion that doesn’t feel right with a firm no, or when in any doubt, listen to your gut feeling. If the comment feels uncomfortable, speak up. Every situation varies but you should never hesitate to protect yourself emotionally or physically. Each interaction should be comfortable. If not, extricate yourself and take the next appropriate step. Notice, I am not suggesting you go to HR for a poorly-worded mention, but you can certainly voice your feelings. If it happens again, speak to your supervisor and then go up the chain of command. Caution: Not every comment is a #metoo moment and you can do your part to keep the situation friendly and professional.
If you accidentally slam your finger in your desk drawer, a wince and a #@&* muttered under your breath may be a knee-jerk response. On the other hand, a flagrant slur, insult or profane comment directed at another person (or country) is offensive, narrow-minded and inexcusable. Everyone gets a pass at an occasional swear word, but when you are in the public eye, it’s your responsibility to behave yourself. There’s no excuse for divisive rhetoric and you should have the decency to at least use the manners comparable to those of a seven-year-old.
I recently watched a segment on television that was meant to be entertaining. The woman was discussing another culture and every time she mentioned the country her tone of voice changed. Although she was attempting to appear breezy and conversational, her inflection and facial expressions gave her real feelings away. Even her inauthentic laughter was a tell-tale sign of her discomfort with her topic. While her words were saying one thing, it was obvious her feelings were much more deeply rooted. Unfortunately, small minds sometimes often have (or want to have) big voices. While we should be forthright when denouncing prejudice, doing it in the correct manner is key. Voicing your opinions, counteracting racism and working towards a united world is best served with civility and humanity. People seldom hear or show respect for someone who is hostile, combative and judgmental.
It’s in all of our best interest to make positive connections. Surround yourself with people who are problem solvers, respectful listeners and considerate friends and community members. There are times when you simply have to take a step back to protect yourself emotionally as well as physically. Incivility in all forms is intolerable.
For more of Diane’s etiquette tips, you may enjoy Take a Moment to Make Your World Better. Read her posts on Inc., and HuffPost, “like” The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook, and follow her on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Diane’s latest book, Modern Etiquette for a Better Life is available on Amazon.