The New Year is fast approaching. Instead of the usual resolutions like “lose weight”, “start a business”, or “call mum once a week”, let’s practice the notion of what Ghandi and Leo Tolstoy have said along the lines of “change yourself first if you want to change the world”.
1. Put down the phone. Sure, technology is awesome, so awesome that we are now so easily connected to friends and family near and far that we’ve also become disconnected from the person in front of us. If you have company, stop checking your phone so often or put it on silent. Have an actual conversation and eye contact with people who made time to spend with you. No one wants to talk to your forehead.
2. Be considerate. This covers a lot of areas in our life. It’s a no brainer, really. But for some reason, some people find it a challenge. For example: if you drive, don’t park your car in two spaces. Even if you’re stopping by a place for “just a minute”, please park properly. Put your phone on silent in the cinema. No one is interested in your commentary to the caller when they are watching the movie.
3. Mind your manners. Perhaps technology has made us a little less mindful with our interactions but we need to be reminded about showing common courtesy. Sure, you were in the middle of a personal call when you strode up to someone you initially planned to ask a question. Don’t keep this person – even if it’s customer service – waiting while you chat away. It’s still a person there. Excuse yourself first and come back when you’re done with your call.
4. Etiquette applies to everyone. It doesn’t matter if you work in customer service or not, or if you’re rich or royalty, be polite to everyone. No amount of wealth can buy you class if you act crassly to the waiter who got your coffee wrong.
5. Say thank you. Gratitude is so often taken for granted. If someone holds the door for you – or for someone else but you took the opportunity to slip through – say thank you anyway. Show your appreciation even for the smallest gesture. You may not think it much but it matters to the other person. And you never know, saying those words could have made someone's day.
6. Say sorry. As much as we need to learn gratitude, we also have to know how to apologise, genuinely. It can be for significant issues like mistakes that hurt others, or something simple as saying sorry to the cleaning lady who just seconds ago mopped the floor you are walking on. It makes a difference to someone.
7. Stop posting or sharing photos of violence, cruelty and death on your social media timeline. Though you may mean well to show people all the gory details of what’s happening in the world today, it’s also desensitising people. It’s disrespectful to show bodies of accident victims that way too. Remember, these are someone’s friends or family.
8. Don’t get offended by people who do not share your insert-choice-of-cause post. Just because they don’t share it along on social media, doesn’t mean they do not support it. Not everyone feels the need to declare their support in that sense. They may prefer to show it through more tangible action. Also, stop caring about the number of ‘likes’ on social media. It doesn’t mean much. Most people ‘like’ blindly.
9. Complain less. You certainly deserve the right to complain if things go wrong. However, when complaining has become a habit, it’s a problem. If you hear yourself complaining over the same issue constantly, stop. Do something about it to change the situation. Let it go. Not only will you stop annoying people who have to hear your complaints daily, you will also have peace of mind.
10. Don’t beat yourself up if you mess up on your resolutions. We have our off days too. It’s human. We make mistakes and fail from time to time. That’s how we learn and overcome our shortcomings. The important thing is to be aware, make amends and do better next time.
Andrea Tan is a Kuchingite living in Kuala Lumpur. She is also guilty of some things on the list. She’s human too. Definitely.