Learn your manners

by Tech. Sgts. A. Adeyemo and James Boyd
786th Civil Engineer Squadron

How many people do you walk by daily without uttering a word or acknowledging their presence? How many people have said hello in passing, only to have you blow them off? Do you watch your fellow Airmen struggle only to assume others will help?

Some of you are probably thinking, “Why should I bother? I pass by too many people to say ‘good morning’ to everyone,” or “I am too busy to help.” Take a minute and be honest with yourself. It takes very little effort to extend a greeting or a helping hand. These little things, although seemingly mundane, go a long way in enhancing a sense of community and strengthening relationships — the butterfly effect.

You may have noticed the downward spiral of common courtesy, good manners and etiquette. By following the guidelines listed below, we can only hope to start a domino effect that reduces the appearance of impoliteness and lack of concern for others.

Say hello — A good indication that a salutation is warranted is eye contact. Once eye contact is established we should feel the need to say hello or give a simple nonverbal gesture, like a smile or a head nod, to acknowledge others. We often find ourselves making excuses like, “They seem angry, rude or looked at me funny,” and use that assumption to avoid saying hi to someone.

On occasions when there is no eye contact, we can always choose to approach the person and say hello. There is no need to wait for them to initiate a conversation first.

They might not have seen you because they are preoccupied with other things. Your hello might be the glimmer of hope that distracts them from the daily stressors and bring about a positive attitude. Your small measure of kindness just might be contagious.

Respond — Despite how you personally feel about the person, if someone makes an effort to acknowledge you, the least you can do is return the favor. Some people are guilty of reading too much into an innocent hello and talking themselves out of responding. Take the greeting for exactly what it is — a greeting. It’s possible that not all situations will be innocent, but we can’t get so paranoid that we see people every day and walk by without acknowledging them.

Give people the benefit of the doubt — Quite a few people tend to ignore your salutations for reasons unknown. Consider the possibility that they might not have heard you. Implement a two-strike process and try extending the greeting again.
Anytime you see someone struggling, extend a helping hand. For instance, if you notice a parent carrying groceries while tending to a toddler, it does not hurt to offer to open the door or even give them some assistance. Even if the person doesn’t accept your offer, most likely they will appreciate your generosity.

We all have days where we don’t want to be bothered, but we should avoid reflecting our attitude on others. We are each other’s wingman, but what good is a wingman if we can’t trust them? Establishing relationships are not always easy; however, by showing concern for and acknowledging others, we can jumpstart the process. People often trust you because they think you care. This sets the platform where people feel comfortable confiding in you. When you visit a small community, town, village or city and it seems like everyone knows each other, you can attribute this atmosphere to close relationships built over years. With time we can achieve that harmony. It all starts with something as simple as, “Hello.”