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Acknowledging and Embracing Courtesy

By March 20, 2019 March 21st, 2019 No Comments

Courtesy. 

aka “the showing of politeness in one’s attitude and behavior toward others“. 

A lost art. The missing human link. 

And, yes, deserving of an annual day – since it is not happening everyday – yes, one single day each year to remind us to be courteous…tragic, but Great! I’ll take it and that day (in case you are wondering) is March 21 (check your calendar, if you’re reading this musing in a timely manner you have time to brush up on your Miss Manners for the one holy day of courtesy in 2019). 

What’s courteous in our hyper-connected digital age?

Glad you asked.

Well, despite a love affair with our phones, we still crave human connections, to be heard, seen, acknowledged…so liking, re-posting, re-tweeting aren’t silly, they can be pleasant, congenial, courteous acts when there is more keeping us apart than drawing us together. 

#BYDN challenge for you with #CommonCourtesyDay in mind: do something courteous today, starting with your inbox. Tackle ignored emails and acknowledge the senders of any emails you’ve allowed to pile up – you know the emails I’m talking about – the ones you hope would resolve themselves or simply disappear. But they haven’t disappeared. The person needing acknowledgement is still out there. An answer (whatever it is) is far more kind than the silence of being ignored. 

And a flip-side bonus for #CommonCourtesyDay – especially for those on the sending end of those oh, so woefully forgotten emails  – the subchapter “Testing – One, Two, Three” pulled directly from Chapter 7 of Build Your Dream Network:

Being responsive, courteous, and avoiding alienation are challenges in the digital age. Sending and receiving e-mail often reminds me of the homeroom-attendance-taking scene in the classic movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: “Bueller? . . . Bueller? . . . Bueller?”

Who doesn’t feel like Bueller’s high school economics teacher every time they send an e-mail? A response, any response, a nod, some tiny acknowledgment that we’ve been heard is all anyone is really looking for. So, in an informal world, even the e-mail autoresponse can relieve the anxiety of feeling ignored or overlooked.

Acknowledgment by autoresponse may be slightly below the bar of common courtesy in Miss Manners’s book—it is not a “real” handwritten response, after all. However, it is prompt and, being practical, I think sometimes it’s better than nothing. So is understanding. Understanding that lives are busy, Gmail messes up at times, and cats walk across computer keyboards deleting everything in their attention-seeking wake. When you feel your e-mail is being ignored, send it politely again. And follow up again after that too.

On the receiving end: when you discover a long-overlooked e-mail, acknowledge it. Your explanation doesn’t need to be detailed—simply make it genuine and close the networking loop.