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Archive for the ‘politeness’ Category

A friend and I went antique hunting one Saturday to celebrate her birthday. The first store we walked into had some construction going on. In fact, we could hear a buzz saw in the background.

My friend spied a locket in a case. When the owner approached, she asked if she could help. My friend asked to see the locket. The woman said, “I can’t get into that case. Look at this mess. I have no idea where my keys are. Come back in two weeks.” We both shook our heads to the woman’s comments, felt a little disappointed, and said, OK.

As we turned to leave, the woman added in a rather condescending tone, “And you shouldn’t be in here anyway. We’re closed.”

I dutifully marched toward the door. My friend, however, isn’t so easily intimidated and her button had been pushed. She said, “Then you should put up a closed sign.”

The woman’s comeback: “It must have gotten moved.”

As the woman was shutting the door behind us, she must have had second thoughts about what she had said, for she added more gently, “Well, we really don’t have a sign.”

Naturally, my friend and I talked about this woman and her poor business approach.

It would have been so much better if she had said, “I’m sorry, I’ve mislaid the keys in all this construction. In fact, we’re really not open for business. But do look around. And please come back when we’re a little more organized.”

The second antique store had no construction going on. My friend and I peered in all the cases, looking at this and that. Then I approached the young man behind the counter and asked, “Do you have any paperweights?” thinking that I might have missed one. He looked at me and said, “Lady, if you don’t see it, we don’t have it.”

At that point I started giggling and said thanks. As my friend and I walked out of the store I said, “Is there a full moon tonight?”

How much better it would have been for this fellow to have said, “I don’t think we have any paperweights right now. Check back in a few weeks.”

The week before last I wore a leather vest to work. I thought it looked great. When I walked out into the waiting room, one of my more critical clients said, “My, don’t you look fancied up. Ha. Ha. Ha.”

I didn’t respond.

How much better it would have been if this woman had said nothing. Or if she had said, “I like your vest.”

A wife had asked her husband about the Kurds. Several days later he found an article on the topic in a magazine of his. Because he thought it would be of interest to her, he put it on her dresser. His wife’s response when she saw the magazine: “Why are you always putting your stuff on my dresser?”

With one thoughtless remark this wife had put her husband down, thrown away his caring deed and made a fool of herself.

Jeannine is moving to Europe. Recently she ran into one of her friends and told her of her adventure. The other woman’s comment: “What would you ever want to do that for?”

Now, tell me, how is someone supposed to respond to that?

I believe most people are well meaning. The trouble is they don’t think before they speak. They don’t listen to what they say. They don’t hear their tone of voice. They don’t think about what it feels like to be on the receiving end of their comments.

This week, be determined to watch what you say. Be determined to listen to how you say it.

Think with your ears.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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I’m often struck by how many children don’t have the slightest idea of how to behave appropriately with others. They lack manners, they have poor communication skills, and they don’t respect their own or others’ property.

Here are a few things you can do as a parent to help your children develop into responsible people who relate well to others.

Teach your children manners.

They need to learn to say “please” and “thank-you.” “Please may I have Julie spend the night?” “Thank you for driving me to the store for poster board.” If your children do not phrase things this way, look to yourself to teach them.

If they ask you to do something and they don’t preface their request with a “please,” tell them to ask again using “please.” If they forget to say “thank you,” tell them to say it. Keep insisting until these words come automatically.

Children should be taught to write thank-you notes. “Thank you for taking me to the show, Grandma.” “Thank you for having me stay overnight at your home.” “Thank you for the birthday present.” Helping children gather paper, pencil, and addresses is a nuisance for parents, but a skill children need to learn.

Another skill you should be teaching your children is to say “hello” and “goodbye”. They should greet people when they walk in the door, when they meet someone or when they get in someone’s car. If they fail to say “hello,” remind them: “Say ‘hello’ to Sue.” When they leave the house or someone else leaves, expect them to say “goodbye”. Hello and good-byes should also be said audibly. If they mumble the words, have them repeat them.

Teach your children to look at the person they are greeting. They should not look down at the floor. After all, they should be giving the other person the attention, rather than inviting the other person to make them the center of attention by not making eye contact.

Respect for property starts at home. If you allow your children to sit with their shoes on your sofa, they will do the same elsewhere. If you don’t expect them to wipe up their spills at your home they’re not going to wipe them up at a friend’s house. If they get by with not cleaning up their mess in the bathroom, you can bet they will leave towels on the floor when they stay overnight at someone else’s home.

It’s definitely easier to hang up your child’s coat than it is to hunt him down and have him take his coat to the closet. You may even have to call him back a second time because he failed to put it on the hanger properly. But if you persist, he’ll begrudgingly get the message.

Now, ask yourself the following:

Do my children say “please” when they want me to do something for them?

Do my children say “thank-you” when I do something for them?

Do my children say “hello” when they first come in contact with someone?

Do my children make a point of saying “good-bye”?

Do they send thank-you notes?

Do they treat our furniture and their clothes with respect?

How am I doing as a parent? Am I teaching my children to be responsible and considerate?

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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One day, I stopped to get a cup of coffee before taking my daughter to the dentist. When I returned to the car with the coffee, I gave it to my daughter to hold. As we were driving along, I noticed that she was holding the cup at a slant. Immediately I said, “You’re spilling my coffee!” What I didn’t add but certainly implied by my tone of voice was, “You dummy.”

She looked at me wide-eyed and said faintly, “Oh, I’m sorry.”

Perhaps it was hearing my own tone of voice or perhaps it was her childlike apology, but something certainly caused me to rethink how I had talked to my daughter. I know if it had been a friend and not my daughter, I would have smiled and said in a friendly tone, “The coffee.” But because it was my daughter, I gave myself permission to be irritated and critical.

On the other hand, I often say to my children, “Don’t be sarcastic;” “That sounds critical, say it again;” and, “Change your tone of voice.” I’m determined that my children should be polite and respectful regardless of whether they are talking to me or to one another.

When I do therapy, I continually tell people to take out the sarcasm and putdowns in their voices, for I know what distance a nasty tone of voice can create between a husband and wife or a parent and child.

Here are a few comments you might make from time to time. Read them over and think how you might sound.

“No, you may not have another Popsicle.”

“I want you to clean your room.”

“It’s time to get your bath.”

“I think you’ve had enough screen time for the day. It’s time to go outside and play.”

“I’d like you home by 12:30 tonight.”

“Please get your towel and wet bathing suit off the sofa.”

“I would like the grass cut before you go play.”

“Whose mess is this on the counter?”

“Who’s got the Scotch tape?”

“It’s time to get off the phone.”

Parents, listen to yourselves and how you talk with your child.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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