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The Virtue of Politeness and Kindness

The Cambridge dictionary defines “politeness” as “behaviour that is socially correct and shows understanding of and care for other people's feelings” and kindness as “the quality of being kind.”

We Canadians have a justly deserved reputation as being an exceptionally kind and polite nation. Our kindness and politeness are an endless source of amusement for comedians, and all kidding aside, it is envied worldwide. However, we need to keeping working to keep our noble reputation. Today we are seeing turmoil (such as COVID-19) negatively influencing our behaviour. I have observed that people are not as kind and polite as they used to be, and this has me concerned.

Just think back to how good you felt when your act of kindness put a smile on the face of the recipient, or how you felt when someone was polite or kind to you. It really isn’t that difficult to be polite and kind, once you get into the habit of doing so. Remember that all actions have a reaction and that you have the power to make someone else feel appreciated or valued.

Below are some simple acts of kindness that we can practice in our day-to-day lives, even when socially distancing:

  • Pay a stranger a genuine compliment.

  • Call to check-in on a senior, or a neighbor who lives alone.

  • If engaging in a conversation (on skype, socially distanced, etc.), put away your electronic devices to give them your attention.

  • If you’re doing your weekly grocery shop, respect senior hours. When shopping, let someone with a smaller cart go in front of you.

  • Don’t argue with employees (retail, food service, bank clerks, etc.) when something you need is not available. Always try to call ahead/order online and be patient when picking up!

  • If you are in a position where you have a few dollars to spare, consider donating to a local food bank, homeless shelter, etc. A lot of charities have had to cancel fundraising events and every dollar counts.

  • Send friends/family hand-written letters in the mail. It’s a nice surprise to get something unexpected.

  • Smile – it is the good kind of contagious.

  • Say a simple thank you!

We aware that in these tumultuous times it is easy to become downtrodden, but we need to resist the urge to become cynical. It is easy to fall into this way of behaving especially when those who are in a position of power and influence, are acting in a malicious and unpleasant manner. We come to accept this type of behaviour as is it the new standard for personal inaction and in doing so, it becomes the norm. However, we need to be cognizant of this and resist the urge to let abnormal become normal.

Remember being polite and kind does not cost you a thing and the product on your actions makes both you and the recipient of the act feel valued and respected.


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