8 Good Old, Common Courtesy Rules that We Need to Bring Back

8 Good Old, Common Courtesy Rules that We Need to Bring Back

8 Good Old, Common Courtesy Rules that We Need to Bring Back


Can we talk?

It seems to me that many of us, myself included, have become a little lax in the common courtesy department lately. People are inconsiderate to us, so we figure it’s okay to do the same thing to others, and so on, and so on.

Yet, let’s be honest. It’s really not.

I’ve been guilty of some of these transgressions over the years. And, despite my aging brain, I remember almost every time vividly because I’ve known I was being inconsiderate, which makes me cringe. What am I talking about exactly? All of the little daily actions that we turn a blind eye to, excuse for various reasons, and generally avoid because it’s become politically incorrect to take issue with them.

Well, as usual, here I am breaking all of the rules because I couldn’t care less about being politically correct, yet I do care an awful lot about common courtesy.


1. In the words of Marcia Brady, “Something suddenly came up.”

Have you experienced this?

You’re all set to enjoy time with someone and then they play the “Something suddenly came up.” card in any of its various forms.

As I recall, both Bob and Carol pulled Marcia over and gave her a stern talking to about her rudeness when she used this line to cancel a date.

Guess what? We all have other things that we could do instead of ABC commitment, but if you’ve said you were going to do something, dern it, stick to your word!

If you cancel ABC because XYZ came up, what that says to the ABC person is that XYZ is more important than them. And, anyway you slice it, that’s just plain rude. Plan around your commitments. Unless you require an emergency appendectomy, or are hemorrhaging from your eyeballs, buck up and show up.

The latest trend in this area is that family somehow trumps commitments to friends.

Even the slightest whims and desires of family members take precedence, and, frankly, I don’t buy it. Yes, family is important. I would do just about anything for mine.

Except blow off a commitment.

Unless, of course, said family member requires an emergency appendectomy or is hemorrhaging from his or her eyeballs. Or, naturally, got smacked in the nose with a football like Marcia.


2. RSVPs are not optional.

There are serial killers, and there are serial non-responders. Thankfully, we’ll be discussing the latter.

If you invite these folks over, you know chances are great that they will either not respond and not come, or will not respond and just magically appear unannounced on the day of the gig with their family of seven plus their three golden doodles in tow.

And that’s so not cool.

RSVP: Respondez, s’il vous plait. Respond if you please.

Maybe they’re confused by the French-ness of it all? I’m not sure.

We all know that replying helps the host plan. Think about it. If everyone acted as inconsiderately as they do, there’d either be fridges packed to the gills with leftovers, or a lot of empty plates at every hosted event.

And each, in its own right, is nightmare fodder for hosts.

If you get invited, and the invitation requests a response, then you respond.

The sooner the better.

The world will be a nicer place for it.


3. Greet me and thank me – it’s part of your job.

Is it really so hard for store cashiers to say “Hi” and “Thank you?”


If I can say these things to you with a smile while forking over $150 for three bags of groceries that used to cost $35, you can too.

There have been times when I’ve waited through an entire transaction and not one word has been uttered by the employee taking my money.

Who trained this person? Who is monitoring this person? Do I get a discount for dealing with unnecessary rudeness?

Oh yeah, and since we’re talking here, please don’t cross right in front of me when I’m wheeling my cart down the aisle, forcing me to come to an abrupt halt. I wouldn’t do that to you or a fellow patron, so, as an employee, you certainly shouldn’t do it to me. And, you know what, save your complaining to your coworkers about who did or didn’t do their job right or what the “idiotic” customer just did to you for your break room chat. It’s completely unprofessional to talk about it in front of others, and I really don’t want to hear about it while I’m bagging broccoli.


4. Mr. Serviceman, if I call you for a quote or with a question, CALL ME BACK!

It must be nice to have the type of booming business where calling a potential patron back is not worth your while. Two days, three days, a week later and still no returned call? Really? And yet, I’m sure this business person is the same one who is the fastest and the loudest to complain when his business volume is waning or when he has to deal with inconsiderate customers.

And, by the way, if you say you’re going to come between 9:00 and 12:00, don’t show up at 5:00 and expect me to greet you with a smile.


5. Bring back civility.

Diversity makes the world go ‘round. Think about how boring it would be if we all thought, looked, talked, and walked alike. The same applies to opinions. It’s okay to express your opinion about a variety of subjects, but it’s not cool to do so while demeaning the other guy who isn’t your mirror image.

We all have opinions. But they’re just that: our personal views or judgments on various ideas and interactions. Just because we have them doesn’t mean they’re the only right ones, nor does it mean that our opinions have to be static. Isn’t it kind of neat to hear why someone else might think or feel differently than you do as long as they’re civil about stating their opinion? At a minimum, listening to their views and what they were founded on will help you understand that person a bit better, it’s possible that the information you gain from an open exchange may modify your stance at bit, and it may even help you find a patch of common ground that you can both stand on while holding hands and singing Kum bay yah.

Well, okay, you can skip the Kum bay yah bit, but at least listen openly and respectfully. Also, it seems to me that if we don’t speak up once in a while about incivility as it occurs, we may be seen as silently condoning it.


6. While behind the wheel, focus on driving.

Do not text and drive. Do not read the newspaper and drive. Do not eat food that requires a fork and drive. Do not paint your nails, apply mascara, brush your teeth, or trim your nose hair while you drive. I’ve watched you doing each of these things, and I’ve gotta say, dude, it is a car – it is not your office, your kitchen, or your flipping bathroom.


7. Restaurant courtesy matters.

We attended a dinner with a group of about 20 people in a restaurant recently where 75% of the diners were up and out of their seats at any given time. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was like a 2-hour-long game of fruit basket upset. And we’re talking about adults, here! Take care of your business first, and then take a seat and stay seated. And, while we’re at it, unless you’re expecting a critical call or message, stay off your cellphone. The person texting you to set up a dinner with them the following week does not trump the person you’re eating dinner with at that moment. Unless of course, 75% of the people around you have left the table. Then, by all means, feel free to play endless games of Solitaire merely so you don’t fall asleep in your soup.


8. Let me finish my senten . . .

Oh, I’m sorry. Did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours?

Do you experience this? I often do because I tend to speak softly and, as children, we were taught to stop talking if someone else begins talking, so instead of increasing my volume to finish my thought, the majority of the time I clam up. Cutting someone off seems to be very commonplace these days. It’s true that sometimes you aren’t familiar with the cadence of the people you’re talking with and instead of being done with their thought, they actually have more to say and you end up accidentally cutting them off, but more often than not, I think it stems from our desire to talk more than listen. With two ears and one mouth, it would seem a physiological sign that we should be listening twice as much as talking.


Okay. What would you add to the list?



Written by Becky


  • Catherine says:

    Here’s one I’ll add to the list: bombardment with loud music no matter where we go. Where is the respect and appreciation for quiet? Do we need music blaring from the gas pumps or being pounded into us in the grocery stores? How about some quiet instead or maybe some sounds of nature? Nature, is after all, the source of the food we’re buying. Is it necessary to have Mick Jagger blasting us for the millionth time with “Can’t Get No Satisfaction” at the swimming pool? How about instead we listen to the joyful sounds of children at play?

    • Becky says:

      I completely agree! I sometimes find myself heading toward our local Fresh Market when I only have a few things to buy despite the fact that the prices can be quite a bit higher than the other grocery stores around here, and I’ve recently realized why. Instead of Muzak or rock, they play soft, soothing, classical music and greet their patrons with bouquets of flowers and say goodbye to them with fine chocolates. Ahh . . . It’s music to my ears and eyes.

  • Hey Becky, as you already know….I am a senior citizen and not as quick on the trigger as I was at 40. But why do some young folks ride up on my back bumper? I’m going five miles an hour over the speed limit, which I read is sort of allowed in most cases. Then they roar around me and drive in front just to show me that I should have been going 15 miles per hour over the speed limit! What’s the hurry? Why risk a very expensive ticket besides the endangerment factor? I usually meet these rude youngsters at the next light anyway. I, of course, have NEVER been guilty of ANY of your examples of rudeness! Want some great land in Arizona? YLM

  • Bonnie says:

    I agree with all of them. I need to be more conscientious myself. The added thank you acknowledgement is a big one for me. Having said that, I feel compelled to make a beeline to my phone to text my son to see if he was one of the two care package thank you’s that you received. 😮

    • Becky says:

      He was! Not to worry . . . I actually sent him a message to tell him to look for it, and he said thank you just like you taught him to!

  • Stephanie says:

    #8 has my name written all over it. I cannot tell you how frequently I remind myself to “talk less and listen more” and yet I struggle to master that skill. I am regularly disappointed in myself. I apologize for the times I have not allowed you the space to ‘ponder’ before you speak and I assure you that everything you say is of great importance to me! Where is “saying you’re sorry” on your list? I am pretty good at that. 🙂

    • Becky says:

      Goodness, this post is getting me in all kinds of trouble because everyone assumes I’m talking about them! I’ve had a couple of private emails from folks apologizing for their supposed transgressions as well. I actually wasn’t talking about you, Steph, and, yes, you are a masterful apologizer: an apologetic olympian, if you will.

  • Patty from MMC says:

    Good list! The only thing I would add is: when you are checking out of a grocery store, food establishment, drive-thru window, etc., PLEASE stay off your cell phone or at least pause your conversation! As a cashier at the hospital gift shop, I very much dislike trying to ring up a customer, ask questions, etc., when they won’t stop their cell phone conversation. While cell phones are a wonderful technological advancement, they are the biggest annoyance to those around them. Yesterday, while seeing live theater, it was so annoying to have the young woman next to me constantly checking her cell phone for texts while the show was on!!! What’s even worse – IN CHURCH!!!!! End of rant.

    • Becky says:

      Ooh, that cellphone in the checkout line gets to me too, Patty! Once again, the message that’s being conveyed is that you and your conversation are more important than the people you’re interacting with in person including the cashier, bagger, and the people behind you who have to listen to your conversation and wait longer as you fumble for your credit card, keys, etc.

  • Kim Roach says:

    I’ve been guilty of all of these at one time or another — except getting up at the restaurant! It’s always nice to be reminded so I can try and bring things back in check!

    • Becky says:

      I’m telling you, Kim, it was like a freaking circus! I’ve never seen anything like it. And there I was plastered in my chair feeling like a loser because I didn’t have a single reason to jump up out of my chair. I almost ran to the washroom just to feel important.

  • Lisa says:

    Thanks for the courtesy reality check this morning! Oh my, I think I’m guilty of some of these. #8 is something that I’m really working hard on. My mind works so fast and I talk so fast, and I find my self jumping in all the time. And with #2, I have gotten caught up in the recent “maybe” choice in RSVPing, which is common with Evites and other online invitations. It should be yes or no, and I definitely have been guilty of this one.

    Recently, I have become annoyed when almost getting run over when walking through a parking lot into a store. Since when did the stop sign at the pedestrian crossing in front of Jewel and Mariano’s become optional. Let’s slow down, people! Especially with seniors or people with physical disabilities–relax for 5 seconds and let people cross the street! Another thing that has bothered me is with Thank You notes from kids. If someone takes the time to select and give you a gift, a handwritten note is such a nice, thoughtful way to acknowledge the gesture, and seems so much more genuine than a typed, general document. It teaches kids to be reflective, appreciative, and grateful of the thought and effort someone has made to honor them. If your child needs to invite 50 kids to their birthday party or graduation party, they need to write 50 different thank you notes. If writing is too labor intensive, then at least type 50 individual notes, or consider the commitment of inviting so many kids. I could go on about how these should be mailed, not just slipped in my mailbox, but that’s probably taking it too far.

    • Becky says:

      I agree with the thank you notes, Lisa, but I have to say that that’s one area that I need to focus on. Perhaps it’s karma at work, but I recently sent tins of cookies out to seven of Logan’s friends at their various schools, and only heard back from two of them. I don’t care if it’s a quick text, an email, or via snail mail, I just would like to hear that they received what I sent and appreciated the thought.

      • Lisa says:

        For something like this, I, too, would be happy to get a text, email, or whatever to know they received and appreciated the gesture. That’s different than party gift thank you notes where you are inviting someone to a party with an expectation of receiving a gift. But thank you notes and written letters in general are becoming a lost art, especially for kids who have not lived in a world without computers, texting, email, and smart phones. It almost seems like getting thank you notes out now has become a process of efficiency rather than an expression of authentic gratitude.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

Post Comment

About Me:

Hi! My name is Becky. I’m a mom, a wife, a friend, a writer, and a compulsive thinker. Don't invite me to a spa or to shop the day away, but rather, make me laugh, engage me in interesting conversation, play a game with me, or give me a cappuccino and homemade vanilla bean flan and I’m yours ‘til the cows come home.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Your email address will not be shared with anyone else.