Notes: Opening Doors for Others

doorThe custom of a door being held open for a lady by a gentleman can seem dated and sexist in our time. With the evolution of culture, comes the evolution of customs. So can be the case for the kindness of opening doors for others.

It is interesting to explore where this custom started. There are references to Vikings letting the lady go ahead as ambush decoys. Then there are the multiple time periods where women’s skirts reached enormous size, making it physically impossible to get next to a door to open it. Architecture may also have contributed. Doors in some time periods were very large, heavy and may have had studs for protection. It is possible that a woman and even a man, did not have the body mass to get a door moved by him/herself.1

Regardless of its history, how do we keep the curtesy of this practice without it being patronizing?

These two concepts are relatively cut and dry:

First, no matter who you are or who is behind you, it is always correct and courteous to hold a door open long enough so that the person behind you can catch it as they go through.

Second, it is always kind to open and hold a door for anyone whose arms are full with packages, are pushing a stroller or cart of some kind, are elderly or are using a wheelchair or other mobility aid.

Now for the trickier situations:

The basic concept here is that you open and hold a door for your superior. If you and your boss are approaching a doorway, you open and hold and they go first. If you are with your parent or grandparent, you open and hold (if you are the granddaughter, take a moment and make sure your grandfather does not want to take the lead). If you are with an equals, the person on the hinge side should open the door.

Whatever your gender, if someone chooses to open the door for you assume the best, which is he/she is being courteous not disparaging. Being offended by a kindness is not kind.

When you open a door for someone else, position yourself on the hinge side of the door, step ahead, reach across with the hinge-side arm and step back to open the door and allow the person to pass. If you need to switch places, fall behind to do so. It is important that all parties involve take their time, rushing may cause accidents.

At the end of the day, opening and holding a door for another is thoughtful and should have little to do with gender.

1Gentlemen Open Doors. (n.d.). Retrieved July 30, 2016, from http://www.forgetfulgentleman.com/blogs/forgetfulgentleman/6013466-gentlemen-open-doors

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Notes: Would You Call a Stranger That?

FriendsIf a label would offend a stranger, don’t use it for a friend.

Language is a powerful tool. Words impart information to others, set the mood and even makes us laugh.

There are also lots of words that are used to make people feel set apart and less than.

Interestingly, many of us that would be angered and offended by a stranger using one of these words, use the very same words for ourselves and friends.

Here is an example that occurs with young women. Most women would not stand for a stranger calling them “whore”, “slut” or “bitch.” Yet will refer to themselves and friends by these labels in texts and group chats, even in person. Some people may respond with, “don’t be so uptight,” “that doesn’t mean anything, it is just a joke!”

Well, maybe, but it normalizes the language bit by bit. Just like that poor frog in the pot of boiling water. The water temperature gradually changes and therefore feels normal to the frog. So, it just gets cooked. Similarly, if you repeatedly hear and use derogatory terms with your friends, how long does it take you to use them for or accept them from those that are not? All the while, there is a trail of the word’s original insulting aim.

Other terms fall into this same pattern include; “fag,” “nigger,” “rag head.” Can they really ever lose all of their mal intention even when they are commandeered by the group that that was first meant to be demeaned?

While it is true that the use of these words can change as time and culture evolve, we can and should choose not to use them for either stranger or friend.

Quote: For a Stranger

Another time, I opened a door for a stranger.

– Ethan Collins, SAA Student

DoorKnobIn order to ensure that we are making a difference to the families that we serve, we ask for feedback on how students are using the skills that we teach. When asked how he used what he learned in Social Arts 101, Mr. Collins said that he helped a lady with her chair and opened a door for a stranger. These are two pretty simple acts, nice things, things that required attention to the needs of others.

Kudo’s to Mr. Collins for not perpetuating the self-centered stereotype of adolescents! We are happy to be a part of developing your awareness of  others.

Quote: Handshaking Skills

I started using my social skills the first few days of 7th grade. Lots of new friends to make! I got a lot of new teachers. I was very polite, and use my hand shaking skills.

-Sam Castellano, SAA Student

schoolThe first days of school can make a student nervous. From this quote, it is evident that Sam was able to use the skills he learned in Social Arts 101 to make that time easier.

One of the first ideas that we look at in Social Arts 101 is why manners are important and how etiquette helps us in life. All Social Arts Atlanta students learn that manners are not a scary, over-the-top set of rules meant to trip you up but are a simple way to treat people with honesty, courtesy and respect which make life a whole lot easier and more enjoyable.

Quote: Better Conversations

I remember noticing a difference in my conversations after the class…my general conversation has improved.

-Kiera McManus, SAA Student

conversationThis quote is from a student who attended Social Arts 101. She gave us great feedback about attending the class and is now part of our Social Arts 102 group. During the first session of 102, we asked that the students write responses to the following.

Tell us a story of how you used your 101 skills.

What was the best thing about 101 and what was missing?

What social skill would you like to improve during 102?

She let us know that she liked learning about making introductions and asked that we do more practice of dining skills. She requested that we make sure to work on conversation skills during 102. What is good about Ms. McManus’ responses is that she is looking forward to practicing more during 102 and improving on what she has already learned.

Quote: Two Languages

It take two…Languages that is: body and spoken.

-Cindy Post Senning & Peggy Post

SmileTrue, true, the Posts are, as always, right on the money. A “hello” without a smile could be worse than saying nothing at all. The language and the face do not match and so the receiver will be confused.

Senning, Cindy Post., and Peggy Post. Teen Manners: From Malls to Meals to Messaging and Beyond. New York: Collins, 2007. Print.

Quote: Don’t Make is Worse

If you do something you know is wrong, such as going where you don’t belong. Don’t make it worse by telling lies; Say you’re sorry and apologize.

-Madeline
Truth
Our French friend is correct. As with all mistakes and accidents, the quicker it is acknowledged, owned and apologized for the better. Eventually the truth comes out and a lie is almost always more regrettable than the original mistake or accident.

Marciano, John Bemelmans. Madeline Says Merci: The-Always-Be-Polite Book. New York: Penguin Putnam for Young Reagers, 2001. Print.