Have you ever heard the phrase: mind your p’s and q’s? It is one I heard growing up and it was a reminder to me that my manners were slipping or my behavior wasn’t the best or I was getting ready to go somewhere and my parents wanted me to remember to be mindful of my manners when I got to my destination. Whew! The phrase always came packed with a lot of meaning! Interestingly enough, the phrase itself has a murky origin, which basically means those who love words and phrases and where they came from can’t conclusively pinpoint the exact origin of this particular phrase. What is known is it does indeed mean to mind your manners. It is a phrase that could use a comeback.
We live in a society that, due to the influence of online social media sites and the anonymity they afford, has become quite rude. In fact, it has become filled with a level of crassness that is overwhelming and has given birth to a new high of bullying behaviors that seems to know no boundaries. It truly has become an equal opportunity activity. This is not a compliment and it is interesting that we are all susceptible since we are all bombarded daily with how we are becoming more and more uncivil toward one another. It is easy to just follow the crowd. It is a lot harder to be a change agent. Change agents learn to take a lot more complaining, grumbling, and all around bad behavior. A lot more. Why: Because people generally don’t like to change even if it is for the best.
I think it is fascinating (not in a good way) that we as a society eschew civility in favor of being crude. It doesn’t say a lot about us as human beings. Not that there aren’t a lot of people who do good in our world and who treat others the same way they want to be treated. it just feels like there are more who don’t. Or at least if you spend your time watching the proliferation of news sources, you will come away feeling as if our society is going to….well you might want to get out your proverbial hand-baskets.
Maybe if we stopped looking at how others are treating us, if we stopped thinking we needed to get even, if we stopped (or used duct tape) trying to cut others down with our words…we might realize they are having a bad day. Maybe they feel safe with you and feel it is ok to vent because they believe you will understand. Maybe they just got some bad news. Maybe they were never taught to mind their p’s and q’s. Maybe they are just being a bully. When you choose to turn the other cheek and not respond…they will stop. Bullies exist because they can get a rise out of you. When we mind our p’s and q’s we remember that treating others with respect even when they don’t reciprocate, can keep the tension down, the anger abated, and the police from being called to the scene.
When we choose civility, we choose to see the human being in all their wonder and flaws. Minding our p’s and q’s is not hard. It is actually harder to be mean and nasty. It is not weak. It is hard to listen to someone yell at you and stay calm and return their tirade with gentleness.
So for today, as you go out and interact with others, remember to mind your p’s and q’s. It is well worth the effort!