Seeing that presumably if we’re reading this, we are in fact humans (sorry Google bots, you can’t sit with us) it seems like most of us have a solid grasp on being a human—you know, breathe, eat, sleep, procreate (maybe); cycle, rinse, repeat. However you’d be wholeheartedly incorrect in that presumption. While we for the most part try to live by the motto of “you do you,” there are some core principles that we’ve decided to tackle as universal how-to human tenets. First up: Common Courtesy.
Sure personal space, eye contact, and demonstrative behavior may shift from culture to culture, but we’d like to think that not being an asshole is universal. So here are some of our suggestions on how to have some basic common courtesy.
Let people finish their damn sentences.
How many times have you been in a meeting, out with friends, in a classroom, or even sitting around the family dinner table and trying to get your point out and someone decides that what you have to say doesn’t matter? That their opinion is clearly more important than yours, they cut you off and proceed to dominate the conversation? It sucks doesn’t it? So why would you do it to someone else? Respect the voices of others, yes even if they’re talking about spreadsheets full of grass clipping percentages from 1937. Just wait your damn turn.
Accept that other humans exist in this world.
Prioritizing yourself from time to time is good, but doing it all the time and thinking the world revolves around your wants, needs, and priorities makes you a selfish bastard. Remember that there are other people who have different (or even the same!) wants, needs, and priorities in their life and don’t run roughshod on those. This doesn’t mean rewarding incompetence or becoming selfless, but rather acknowledging that you, your values, and your life has no more right to the front of the line than anyone else’s.
Understand how money works.
Primarily that not everyone has it and simultaneously that some do, and that there is no difference of human dignity in either group. Be cognizant and respectful of the fact that your friends may not be able to hit the bar every single weekend and make plans that can be inclusive of everyone. Don’t presume everyone has the same financial status that you do and don’t be a dick about it no matter if they have more or less than you do. Value them as people, not pocketbooks.
While no one likes a know-it-all, people hate being left out even more. Deliberately excluding people for not knowing your in-joke, the president’s SNAFU of the day, or every episode of “Seinfeld” doesn’t make you cool, it just makes you rude. Be inclusive, share the joke, bring people in, and don’t go out of your way to leave people out. Imagine if every question you asked in school or to your parents someone said, “You wouldn’t get it.” You’d be a bit of an idiot now wouldn’t you? Knowledge shouldn’t ever be denied.
Maybe traditional manners tend to be rather gender restrictive, but there’s a far cry difference between not adhering to ‘children should be seen and not heard,’ and being a decent person. Remember to ask nicely for something instead of demanding it, be grateful when someone does something for you, and show that your are not a nasty little ingrate who thinks it’s their right for others to serve them. Say thank you to waitstaff, don’t lose your temper because someone didn’t jump to do your bidding, don’t cut in line (but seriously, don’t ever do it in the UK), and hold the door for someone with their arms full. Being kind and polite to others doesn’t diminish you.
Don’t be the person who won’t get off their ass and chip in when others need help. It doesn’t matter if you’re the patriarch of the family, the monarchy, or the little sister—you can set the damn table, help do the dishes, offer to push the double stroller for a friend or relative struggling to deal with two kids, and carry your own weight. Pick up that piece of litter you see at the park even if it’s not yours or replace the toilet paper roll when it runs out even if it’s not your turn. Just remember, even the Queen of England can fix her own Land Rover, what’s your excuse for being a lazy sod?
Respect a difference of opinion.
So we identify with different political parties but does that really mean someone is a stupid and simpleminded? No, of course not. Does everyone have to get so ragingly pissed when others feel differently about a controversial topic? The world is full of different thinking individuals coming from different religions, cultures and upbringings and that is beautiful. Can’t we show that we are decent humans and have respectful and polite conversations with each other?
Learn how to pronounce people’s names.
And call people by name. No matter how many unfamiliar syllables someone’s name has, ask them to pronounce it, repeat it in your head, and hold on to that memory. We all forget people’s names from time to time, but there is no excuse for referring to a coworker, friend of a friend, or neighbor as “hey you” with double gun pointer fingers. If you really cannot remember, fess up and apologize, but don’t laugh it off. Imagine how uncomfortable you would feel if every time you ran into someone they clearly had not considered you important enough to remember! And don’t put someone else in that position.
Pick up after your pets.
Seriously, it is sad we even have to write this but if you let your dog poo in a nice park that children are playing in and then just walk away, you suck at being a human. You are disgusting and deserve to have turds shoved down your throat. There are doggy bags everywhere you look, trashcans at every corner and everyone else in the park is considering cussing you out. If you have a pet, clean up after it. Keep the Earth sanitary.
Be kind to animals.
If you hurt, mistreat, or abuse animals then you likely aren’t the kindest to other human beings. It’s not about choosing to be vegan or never wearing animal goods (though that’s cool if you do), but rather about how you treat creatures that you share this Earth with who cannot fight back. While you may have pets to enjoy their company or have fun with, you are also entrusted with their care and well being. They trust the hand that hits them, that leaves them by the side of the road, that abandons them to kill shelters because they’re too much work. If you wouldn’t do that to a child, don’t do it to your dog/cat/iguana/pony/gerbil/etc.
Servers are people too.
Don’t be that jerk who thinks it’s okay to only tip 5% or not tip at all. Your server works hard to try and make your experience pleasant and honestly it’s not their fault if your burger is under or overcooked. Servers make most of their money off tips (many are only paid around $2 per hour…before tax) so when you scrimp you are hurting someone else’s bank account. If you want something ask for it nicely, while it’s their job to serve you are NOT the queen of England so you are not in a position to demand anything. In the immortal words of Sirius Black, “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”
Don’t judge a book by its cover.
It is something bookworms are fond of spouting off, but how often do we not extend the same courtesy to our fellow earthlings? People scoff at hairless cats (as if it’s their fault) and write off people who look different than what we’re used to. Start judging people on their qualities and not on their external appearance – in 50 years we’re all gonna be old and saggy anyways, so in the end it really doesn’t matter.
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