Monday, September 17, 2007

I See Rude People - Do You Really, Now?

Are people ruder today than they were twenty years ago? Are parents teaching their children manners? Are we too absorbed in ourselves to care about opening doors for others, saying thank you, or helping a poor soul who is chasing important papers as they scatter in the wind?

You’ll have to draw that conclusion for yourself because much of the answer is dependant on the way you behave in the world. Rude people tend to think everyone else is the same way and courteous people, on the whole, believe if the need arises someone will step up to help.

In a not-so-scientific-but-fun study conducted by Reader’s Digest last year, New York City was found to be the most courteous city in the world. A group of Reader’s Digest employees scattered around the globe to perform manners tests. They used a simple formula – one female and one male tester per city, the experiment was performed sixty times, and unwitting participants were interviewed as to why they did or did not respond to the person who needed a hand.

They conducted three types of experiments – the will someone open or hold the door for me test, the I’ve dropped my papers will anyone help me pick them up test, and the will the service staff in a coffee shop be courteous test.

And believe it or not, New York City came out on top, leaving Paris, France and Seoul, Korea in the dust. But is it fair to go to a foreign country and judge them on American standards of manners? Probably not.

What I found interesting about the article is the main reason sighted for offering a helping hand was parental example. “My mother expected it of me.” “It’s what I was taught to do.” Or the other reason for helping out, “It’s what I would want someone to do for me.”

In my home, my husband and I are the manners police. We expect our children to say please and thank you. The first person through a door holds it for the rest of the group. The children help bring in the grocery bags and are told, in no uncertain terms, to ask before taking the last piece of pie. We live in such a rushed and casual society that I think we forget to teach the basic manners our parents taught us around the dinner table.

These little pleasantries help make everyone’s day brighter. When noise and stress levels in our house are high, common courtesy among our mob of seven makes us feel more like a family and less like a rock concert.

Being kind won’t stop the jerk on the freeway from flipping you off from as he shoots by in his yellow corvette, but that’s okay. Don’t sweat it. He probably thinks we all go through life at breakneck speed, never seeing and never doing, except to show our annoyance with all the little guys in our way. For every mid-life-crisis-guy there will be ten more kind souls, like you, willing to hold the door when your arms are full and happy to allow you to merge smoothly into traffic.

It’s perception. Courteous or rude - we get to choose what to be, to see, and to teach.


Anonymous said...

Good morning, Rude people probably are just having a bad day. At the craft fair I was at last weekend, I found myself confronted by a very rude man who demanded to know when I would have my booth packed up and moved so he could get his equipment out. I told him nicely that I was going as fast as I could and he was welcome to help me if he wished. He just became more angry, cursed at me and stormed off. I called after him, asking "What church do you attend? --because I don't want to go there if that's how they teach you to act!" Hope it made him think. The other crafters nearby stepped in and helped me pack up faster. Now they had manners and good hearts! Mom Mc

Lisa McGlaun said...

Mom Mc,
You are an inspiration for me. When I think about a situation, I ask myself what would you do in the same spot.

You are right. Some people are just having a bad day and that's what I like to think when I meet up with someone like you did at the craft fair. Bad days = rude behavior for lots of us because we are so consumed by the thing that put us in a bad mood we can't see how we are effectin others.

Thanks for pointing that out.

Love you,

thewishfulwriter said...

hmmm....this post has got me thinking...because I tend to think LOTS of people are rude nowadays :)

in other news, my best friend Laura just sent me my birthday gift.

guess what it was?!

the Save 2nd Base shirt!

I can't wait to wear it :)

NeoAuteur said...

New York City is the most courteous city in the world??!

Clubbs said...

I am all about passing on kindness. I believe in the "ripple effect" and hope that any small kindness I can do will be passed on to others.

Your article was a great reminder and a challenge to us all. Thanks!

Every, Every Minute

Lisa McGlaun said...


You got a Save Second Base teeshirt! How incredibly cool! Take a picture of yourself in it and post I'd love to see it...Or better yet send it to me and I'll post an update.


Lisa McGlaun said...

I know, I was shocked, too, but that is what the article claimed was the results of their test. NYC came out on top. Maybe they are working hard to shake their reputation, who knows?


Lisa McGlaun said...


I do my best to practice the ripple effect. I truly believe that it works. You get back what you put out.

Recently, my son came home and said that he and his friends went through a drive thru. When they got to the window the clerk told them the driver ahead of them paid for their meal. He was so impressed by that and says first chance he gets he's going to do that for someone else.

Thanks for your comment..come back again!


DariDonovan said...

What a marvelous post. People are no ruder than they ever were. I think the internet gives people the "balls" to do and say things they would NEVER do in their real life. (excuse the expressive word).

I love your blog, this is just my kind of reading. Your post caused me to do a lot of thinking. My hubby and I were discussing crime the other night and we decided there is no more crime than there ever was, people are just more forthright with it and we have the media of course to advertise it.

I'll definitely be back to read more of your posts!

DariDonovan said...

P.S. I adore your blog description as shown in your header. It ROCKS!

Lisa McGlaun said...


So glad you found my blog. Come back often..:) I think you are right, global media makes us feel that things are worse and definately makes crime more initmate and immediate.

And the anonymity of the Internet makes us believe that we are bulletproof and can say and behave anyway we wish without consequences. Not everyone behaves that way but many do use it as a license to let loose on others they don't even know.

Thanks for the comment,

thewishfulwriter said...

I will! I will!

It's my new favorite shirt. I'm gonna wear it this weekend at will send you a pic :)

Lisa McGlaun said...


I'll be looking for the


Patricia A. said...

Good Morning,
This is my first time at you blog. Love your post about manners. I also believe manners have been left behind sometimes. People always seem to be in a rush, or too involved in themselves to notice what's going on around them. Everyone has a bad day here and there, but I believe that you have to recognize when your in a bad mood,step back, and tell yourself that you "WILL NOT" take it out on anyone else. It can be done. It is part of good manners, I believe.

Thanks for the post. Enlightening. NY City? why not...

Patricia A. said...

Just remembered,
Like your son,I had a similar experience happen to me a couple of times.I was crossing the Golden Gate bridge one day on the way to work and when I went to pay the toll, the toll taker told me that the person in front of me had already paid for me. It just filled my heart, and the good feeling lasted all day long. But I was so taken by surprised that I just kept on going. Later on I regretted not paying for the person behind me. Unbelievably, it happened to me again, this time I remembered to pay for the car behind me and "that " made me feel good all day too. From then on here and there I would make it point to pay for someone else.

Kali said...

NYC, the most courteous city. I will attest to that!! I wonder where L.A. ranks :( Lisa, thank you for your comment on my 9/11 post. I hope you get time to explore the city when you are here in November.

Lisa McGlaun said...


Welcome, so glad you found LifePrints and me. Please visit again. Your story about the toll booth is a good example of what this post was about. We just have to behave in the way we want others to treat us and usually it works. Not always but enough to make me a believer in the concept.


Lisa McGlaun said...


I want to do some exploring too. Sounds like your life is so full right now but if you want to show me around a little, I'm willing to go where ever you take me..:)

I do hope we get to meet.


Hope said...

Hello. I have been working at Sonic Drive-In (a modern fast food drive-in restaurant in Louisiana) for nearly four years now and I have definitely noticed a difference in peoples attitudes towards each other, my co-workers, and myself. The Sonic that I work at is very up beat and fun. It is a service requirement to deliver food and drinks on skates. Even if it wasn't a requirement I would encourage anyone who works at Sonic to wear skates because the service is faster and it resembles the WOW factor that we try to represent at Sonic. Dealing with customers is part of our job, and we often get our fair share of rude customers. But in the past two years people have willingly tried to upset me. As long as I have been working at Sonic it was not until recently has someone deliberately tried to trip me because they wanted see me fall on skates. I even had someone convict me of stealing thier credit card, which is a VERY serious offense. Later she realized that it was in her side door panel where she put it. I have not only noticed a difference in adults but kids as well. Some of the things these kids say you swear that they were just repeating what their mom or dad would say, like "That is false advertisement!" When does a child fully understand what false advertisement is, as well as an adult. I understand that everyone has bad days and I have successfully learned how to deal with rude people but these acts are unquestionably unacceptable and hard to deal with.

Thanks for the post,
Relieving work stress

Tabatha K. said...

I find it interesting what you said about most people attributing their good manners to parental teachings. One Associated Press-Ipsos poll said that 70 percent of Americans think people are more rude than they were 20 years ago, and of that 93 percent blamed parents. I agree that parents, among other things, are to blame because, like you and your husband, children need their parents to be the "manners police". Where else are we supposed to pick up the importance of civility if not at home? It's possible that parents are more focused on teaching their children how better to make money and be successful rather than polite, which goes along with along with televison and the media. In the past, shows encouraged respect, however the same cannot be saide of today's programs. Perhaps parents, are to blame for allowing exposure to these type of shows. Though, like you said, it's up to each individual how to behave and never doubt that there are kind souls among all the rude ones.

Tabatha K. said...

Oh and I'm having a few computer troubles so I apologize if the post is repeated a couple of times.