Is it Covidiquette or Pandemiquette? Whatever we call it, we are struggling to figure out the new rules of etiquette and manners so that we remain courteous and polite during these trying times. In a recent article, I wrote about “Covid Cranky,” a condition that, like it or not, has infected every one of us.
I stepped up and confessed that I have suffered from “Covid Cranky”. In the last two years, I have said and done things that seem completely out of character and certainly not worthy of someone who professes to be an “expert” on manners and etiquette.
When I have noticed this behavior in others, I have assumed these people were cranky and rude by nature and acted that way pre-Covid. However, through my own informal research into this phenomenon, I have discovered that this is not limited to those born cranky. Friends and colleagues, who are generally kind and courteous, have confessed to these uncharacteristic behaviors as well. They have found themselves being rude to people online and using the anonymity of the Internet to say things they would previously have kept to themselves. They have lashed out at people over the phone and even abruptly hung up on a few.
What is it about the pandemic that has made us act in such uncivilized ways?
- Have we been cooped up so long that we have forgotten how to act in the real world?
- Do our masks give us license to act anonymously?
- Are we tired of being told what we can and cannot do?
- Is rarely being able to talk to a live person causing frustration?
- Do we long to see smiling faces?
- Is our patience wearing thin trying to keep up with the ever-changing rules?
It may be some or all the above plus more. You could add to this list, I am sure.
So, what can we do? As always, we cannot control the behavior of others. When we encounter rude or difficult people, we can:
- Try not to mimic their conduct.
- Honor the preferences of others and not be judgmental about their choices.
- Step back and consider what might be going on in their lives to spark this behavior.
- Protect ourselves when we feel threatened but do so graciously.
- Consider the effect of our actions or words on others.
- Ask ourselves if we are treating others as we would like to be treated.
It is not hard to be nice. It takes less energy than being combative. So, before you turn on your computer, pick up the phone or go out into the world, put down your sword and shield. Instead, put a smile on your masked face and generosity in your spirit. I promise to do the same.