Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Simple Manners

“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others.  If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter which fork you use.” ― Emily Post

Your MatchGirl, gentle readers, spends a lot of time thinking about manners. On my commute to work. Walking down the street. In the aisles of the grocery store. Reading comments on blogs. People are taking any chance they have to be incredibly rude. Perhaps part of that is the anonymity of the big city (or the feeling of anonymity that an anonymous blog comment lends). Perhaps part of it is just that people are not that nice.

I've written a bit about manners here before, in a post about employers following up with job seekers and (briefly) in a post about about elevator pitches/3-minute interviews, but I think it's a topic that rarely goes out of style.

In the job hunt, the job seeker is often overly, and overtly, polite. Making sure to do every single thing by the book. The employer, looking for a candidate, on the other hand, is rarely as polite (though, when I recently had to go through a stack of resumes at work, and interview a slew of people, your MatchGirl made sure she let every person she spoke with or corresponded with, whether we wanted them to come back or not). Some places send automated replies - often as much as a month after an application has been received. Sure, a person has not actually looked at these resumes, just a bot searching for matching keywords, but still - if you reply to that email (which often looks like it is coming from an actual person) you will never, ever, ever get a response!

In everyday life people are just plain rude. Maybe it's the heat. Maybe it's the city. Maybe it's the L train. I'm not sure. But people's manners of late are noticeably lacking. Every day on my way to work I get shoved, stepped on, sat on or jostled and no one says a word. Yesterday on the 6th Avenue L platform, I saw a girl step on the back of another girl's shoe, so the shoe went flying a few feet away. The second girl obviously didn't want to walk barefoot on the gross platform to get it back and the girl whose fault it was not only didn't offer any assistance, she looked pissed that the other girl had been walking slow enough that she had gotten stepped on. She most certainly didn't say "I'm sorry" or even "Excuse me." Luckily, in a rare moment of NYC politeness, a fellow commuter snagged the shoe out of the crowd and handed it back to the barefoot gal. If your MatchGirl had not been noticing the prevailing rudeness in the city of late, it's possible she wouldn't have even noticed this little exchange - but it seems so very, unfortunately, common these days.

If there is a mantra to this blog, it is, please treat others how you want to be treated. Be good to each other.

Life is so much easier if we simply try to help each other along and up, instead of constantly tearing each other down.


  1. The other day I saw a very young boy sitting on his mom's lap reach out and grab the magazine of man sitting next to them. The mother immediately apologized to the man, but he just gave her a glare, as if the child just ripped his mint copy of Life #1 to shreds. Add race to the scene, and, well...

    Yeah, sometimes people sadden me.

  2. Great observation. Which part struck the louder chord for you, the stepping onto the shoe or the opportunity taken of the man who retrieved it?

    I often find what I'm noticing says more to me about "me" than the players involved in the scene.


  3. SlowX - I agree. I hate it when people try and do the right thing (apologize, say excuse me, etc...) and the "wronged" party is rude about it. graciousness is part of good manners.

    Rich- that is a great question. I think it will need a separate blog post to fully answer it! But, I find myself noticing the small niceties and I think that it because they are so rare here. A person holding a door for another person, or picking up something that was dropped, giving up a seat to an elderly person or helping a struggling parent up the subway steps with a stroller - these things happen, but they are so very rare. When you catch a glimpse, you can't help but stop and notice.