At Metanao, we talk about the 'Three Cs' of happy relationships: Commitment, Consideration and Connection. There's another C that forms an important part of Consideration: Courtesy.
We sometimes think of good manners - saying "please" and "thank you", holding doors for people, not talking with a mouthful of food, letting people speak without interruption - as though they are just a set of rules we learn. Or we think of them as related to social class and demonstrating that we were well brought up.
But being courteous to the people we work with, the people we encounter in our everyday lives and - perhaps most importantly - our partners and families, is much more than that.
As a side note, for all the reasons listed below, it is very odd to me - but not unusual - to see a person who treats strangers politely but family members or partners rudely. Surely the people we spend the most time around and value the most are the people it makes most sense to treat well?
First: what goes around comes around: if we are courteous to others, they will tend to be courteous in return, and the world will just become a more harmonious place.
Second, being polite and considering others as worthy of care builds more positive relationships. Even if I'm frustrated by a problem I have with a company, being rude to the person I need to help me solve the problem is just not smart. I'm much more likely to get what I need if I treat people well, and to be welcome next time.
Third, courtesy is simply kindness in action: it's how we show others that we care enough about them to make the effort to treat them well.
Finally, courtesy is also love and affection in action. We can tell someone we love them, and show them with the big gifts and surprises now and then, but the constant daily, moment-by-moment message that we send our loved ones comes in the courtesy and consideration we display in the smallest words and actions.
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