Being Courteous

Please, Thank You and Sorry; the three basic words of courtesy. How often do we use them? I, personally, use the words ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ a lot; and I don’t hesitate to say ‘sorry’ when I am wrong or hurt someone.

My close friends often ask me not to be so formal when I say ‘thank you’s. But for me saying ‘thank you’ is not a formality. It has become who I am. I mean it when I say it. Since childhood, my sister and I have been conditioned to thank people around us. Whenever someone gave us anything, be it eatables, goodies, gifts or even compliments, we were taught to thank them. If we received anything from a third party, we said our ‘thank you’s through letters or phone-calls. Today I thank anyone and everyone who does something for me, be it family, colleagues, friends, shopkeepers, security guards, rickshaw-walas, auto-walas, behind counters and so on. I am fascinated by their reactions after that. The smile and the softened tone of voice never fails to ‘warmify’ me.

On the other-hand, whenever I need or want someone to do anything for me I say ‘please’. Even if I don’t use the word exactly, my tone of voice is that of a request. No, I don’t do it consciously. It is just the way I am conditioned. Whether it is family, friends, colleagues or acquaintances; whether  the task or chore is big or small; it is always a request. A ‘thank you’ always follows. However, on rare days I have my  melt-down moments and the request tone does go haywire. I am a human after all!

Many a times, when we hurt someone knowingly or unknowingly, when we fight or argue, the result is always bitterness and hurt. And just by saying ‘sorry’ from the heart, we can sweeten our relationships again. But again, we hardly do that. Ego comes in between. Sometimes, we feel it’s too late to apologise. But as the old saying goes, “Better late than never.”

Surprisingly, off late I am seeing even children below five years of age being reluctant to say ‘sorry’. Even though they say ‘thank you’ at the drop of the hat, making them say ‘sorry’ is a arduous job! A few years back, my uncle’s young daughter did some mischief and her mother scolded her. I asked her to say ‘sorry’ to her mother. On the contrary, she sulked and was mad at my aunt for scolding her. I tried to coax her to say the word, but she didn’t budge. Finally, my aunt kissed her and made up. I was shocked. What did that little girl of five understood of the word ‘sorry’? Why was she so adamant not to utter the word? I had a flashback of this incident on a recent holiday Az and I took with one of his friend, his wife and their three year old son. Whenever the little boy annoyed his parents, Az tried to make him say ‘sorry’ in all ways possible. But the kid was adamant. His father remarked that his son acted as if he would lose some property if he said ‘sorry’. Finally after three whole days, when we were on our back home, Az was able to make the kid say the “S” word. And it was not that the parents were overly indulgent. They are a fair mix of leniency and strictness.

I feel people around kids should frequently use the basic courteous words. Kids pick up on negative words and mannerisms immediately but take time to pick up the good ones. Teaching your kids the right manners is a Goliathian task. But it’s an achievement in itself and the credit will always go to you.

There have been instances when I am being polite and the other person responds in a rude manner. I feel so hurt at that time. Most of the times I ask the other person in the same polite tone as to why he/she is talking to me like that when I am talking in respectful manner. In matter of children, I can’t tolerate ill-mannered and rude kids. Being naughty is kids’ right but ill behaviour is a big no-no.

I believe if each one of use the words Please, Thank You and Sorry generously, the world will become so much a better place. Quarrels and fights on roads will diminish, relationships at home and work will improve,  hard feelings and bitterness will vanish and consequently the place we live in will become a lovely. Also these words are ought to be spoken from  our hearts. Starting to say these words is a start though. They say, “Charity starts at home.” So, please let’s start by being courteous to our near and dear ones. And catch the kids young. After all, they are are the future us.

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