Just when I thought the art of manners was lost, feeling despair over the rise in violence, watching rudeness on social media, as if it’s a source of pride, the opposite is shown. Manners are still alive and well!
It took going to Lee County, Alabama, home of the University of Auburn and Opelika to see this and it followed me all the way home. I was at the University to conduct a SAMHSA GAINS Center training and strategic planning on the diversion of people with mental health problems from the criminal justice system. A full range of professionals turned out – The Mayor of Opelika, The Dean of Auburn’s Liberal Arts College, Police Chiefs and officers, Judges, court personnel, mental health professionals, probation officers, Professors, and NAMI representatives. The amount of mutual respect this group of people showed one another was inspiring. And I experienced it outside that venue as well.
Here’s what I noticed:
No Interrupted Conversations
Excited professionals, eager to get their point across, will interrupt and start talking before the speaker is through. It can be disrespectful. None of that happened!
Recognition and Compliments
People don’t always recognize their colleagues, much less those in other professions. I was awed to witness the exchange of compliments shared among this community. I told them that this spirit of collaboration and respect would surely make their plans for change successful.
Social Pleasantries, Please and Thank you
The South is famous for social pleasantries. From the training, to restaurants, to stores you’d hear; “Hello, how’re you doing, nice day isn’t it”? Please and thank you was in every transaction. But, when it was still present in several airports, I thought, hum, people are actually being nice to one another.
Traffic and Line Courtesy
There was no pushiness to get ahead, break in line on the road or airport. People readily let one another in on the road. In the airport, people asked if you were in line before moving in front of you. Courtesy was the norm.