Too often the word ‘etiquette’ is associated with antiquated ideals or customs. In fact, ‘etiquette’ has far less to do with convention and much more to do with common courtesy.
An effective etiquette instructor focuses not on what fork to use, but on how decent human beings relate to each other with kindness and respect. The urgent need for such instruction in our society becomes more evident by the hour.
Certain components of our modern existence threaten the development of effective social skills. Without focused cultivation of these skills within our schools, our homes, and our communities, the civility born of etiquette could indeed become a thing of the past.
By virtue of lurking behind a monitor, certain people can justify unleashing vile remarks at will. Argumentative, belligerent or flat out reprehensible exchanges are the norm. People are capable of ‘saying’ things online that they would never dream of uttering out loud. A sense of isolation, anonymity and irresponsibility often festers behind the screen. Thus the dawn of the internet troll.
According to Pew Research Center, both Mom and Dad work full-time in 46% of two-parent households. The National Center for Health Statistics puts the divorce rate at just under 50%. Punishing schedules, conflicting obligations and decreased togetherness make it difficult for parents to focus on development of their children’s social skills. Other factors such as increased time in organized activities and solitary time on devices limit kids’ opportunity for face-to-face interactions.
Most American families are over-scheduled and rushed, too busy to sit down and eat together. The Harris Poll states that 59% of people claim their family has fewer dinners together than they did growing up. This is cause for concern since the family dinner is the cornerstone of conversation skills and consideration for others.
The landscape of human interaction has changed and moves at warp speed. Not only do we communicate more and with larger audiences, we do so lightning fast, using emojis, status updates and 140 character declarations. Communication-on-the-run all too often fosters misunderstanding and miscommunication.
Etiquette education and life skills training fight these and other enemies by instilling confidence and poise, and by developing character and courtesy. Such traits are the glue that hold families and communities together.
They are as important now as they were in generations past, ensuring that kindness – and therefore, etiquette – will never go out of style.
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