Monthly Archives: July 2017

Common Courtesy Not So Common

By Andrea Freedman


There was a time when the phrase “common courtesy” actually meant something. These days, as it seems that this term has either been forgotten or abolished, I decided to compile a list of what I think should be regular, ordinary courtesies, in no particular order:

Hold the door so that it doesn’t possibly hit the person behind you in the face (and say thank you when someone holds the door for you).

If you live in an apartment building with a shared laundry room, have the courtesy to clean out the filter after you use the dryer. On a similar note, do not leave your clothes in the dryer long after they are ready and prevent someone else from using it.

When you are on a beach, don’t automatically plunk yourself down in front of someone else who is already enjoying a particular spot. This summer, if you are at a public swimming pool, try not stepping all over people’s towels if you can avoid it.

Not using mouthwash or deodorant before going to the gym, into an elevator or another small space is inconsiderate and quite frankly, pretty darn disgusting! Speaking of elevators, it is also discourteous (not to mention potentially dangerous) when people jam themselves into an already overcrowded elevator.

Keep your voice down to a reasonable volume when other people around you are trying to relax and don’t assume everyone else has the same taste in music as you do or that your neighbors want to listen to it blaring in their ears while they are trying to have a peaceful day in their own backyard.

If you are invited to a function and there is a speech going on, don’t sit back and relax while your kids run around screaming so no one can hear the person speaking.

Business relationships can end because someone can’t be bothered to return clients’ phone calls within a reasonable time period so be sure to return calls, even if you don’t have anything new to report.

If someone tells you someone close to them has passed away, even if you have never met that person, express your condolences. If you choose to go the cemetery after a funeral service, stay with the procession rather than racing ahead in your car so you can get there before anyone else and cause others in attendance unnecessary stress.

When you see someone with only one item in line at the grocery store let the person go ahead of you; offer your seat on the subway to an elderly passenger.

Of course there are going to be times when plans have to be cancelled for one reason or another, but keep in mind that you could ruin someone else’s day by doing so. Speaking of caring about other people’s time, when co-workers or employees have the day off don’t bother them at home; save your questions and let them enjoy a proper day off.

People are busy and quite often only have a chance to do their errands during their break from work. Don’t blab a bank teller’s ear off when you know there is a line-up of people waiting, especially during the lunch hour.

If you ask someone how they are, stop, look them in the eye and wait for their answer; and instead of only talking about yourself, try asking the other person about himself or herself as well.

Send in your RSVP by the time requested if you are invited to a wedding, even if the host is a close family member so that he or she doesn’t have to wait on you before finalizing their seating plan.

Pay people to whom you owe money on a timely basis, especially if they have done work for you. Remember – their bills need to be paid just as much as yours do.

I could go on and on but I think you get the picture. Showing common courtesy really isn’t all that difficult. It doesn’t require bending over backwards or going over the top. But if we all think of how our actions affect others and show them even a little bit of respect, someday the word “courtesy” might once again become more common.♠


I’m sure there are many other discourtesies I have missed and even that I may be unconsciously guilty of myself. What do you think? What courtesies do you think should be common?


Copyright © by Andrea Freedman 2017