Ways to Be Kind
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We have talked a lot about being kind to one another. In many respects, that statement referred more to respecting where people were on the spectrum of COVID protocols and not shaming them. But what does it take to truly be kind? I just attended a conference where the atmosphere was different because people expected everything to be just like it was pre-COVID, but it wasn’t. So how do we practice being kinder?
One of the first bumps this past week was greeting people. Some folks wanted to shake hands or hug like they always had. Halfway through the action of whipping their hand out or bringing up arms to give a hug, they would stop, their eyes would get really big, and they would say, “Oops! I’m supposed to ask first.” Some people will just take a step back if you try to shake hands or hug to let you know they aren’t ok with it; however, that action leaves you feeling a little foolish. So how do we handle this? I think if you are someone who wants to engage in a physical greeting, getting in the habit of asking how the other person feels about shaking hands or hugging is exceedingly respectful and acceptable. Whether they say it is ok or they would prefer not to, you haven’t put them or yourself in an awkward position. If a physical greeting is not your style, leading off with a brief wave or head nod can go a long way, making everyone feel comfortable.
How else can we convey simple kindnesses? Verbal cues are a great place to start. If you notice something about a person that is positive, take the time to tell them. You have no idea what a brief comment like “I love your shoes” will do for someone’s demeanor. At this conference, I saw a VFW member go up to a soldier in uniform and thank him for his service to his country. The young man had been sitting alone on his phone when the older gentlemen approached. The solider jumped to his feet and engaged in conversation, standing taller the longer the conversation continued and leaving with a smile on his face. Just witnessing that exchange from across the room made my day, and I shared that with the VFW member (which, I think, may have made his day).
If all else fails, fall back on the simple rules of etiquette. Remember, when you’re with people, there are rules of politeness to follow. I can’t tell you how many air-escaping-body sounds, talking with food in the mouth, and demands made on waitstaff (without a please or thank you) I witnessed. Truth be told, all the time we were at home allowed us to be comfortable and not practice some of our basic etiquette skills. Now that it is time to be amongst each other, we have forgotten being that comfortable really isn’t always appropriate.
With all of that being said, Robeson County 4-H is planning a basic etiquette class working with elementary school teachers in the fall; the thought being, if we can start our youth out on the right foot and they practice in the classroom, they are likely to teach their other family members simple etiquette, thereby practicing it in the home. If it is being practiced in the home, perhaps it will be practiced outside the home. If it is practiced outside the home, it will become more commonplace to be polite, and in that essence, being kinder to each other.
For more information, please contact Shea Ann DeJarnette, 4-H Youth Development agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, at 671-3276, by email at Shea_Ann_DeJarnette@ncsu.edu, or visit our website at https://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu/.