Fear around coronavirus can bring out the worst in people, but it also inspires AMAZING random acts of kindness.
Every day we witness innovation in how people thank frontline healthcare workers and help their neighbors in quarantine feel less alone.
Countless organizations and individuals are sewing or donating masks and other supplies. Grocery stores are setting up seniors-only hours. Local restaurants and liquor stores have turned into delivery services, and newspapers are publishing paid content for free.
A group of activists around town are setting alarms on their smart phones to remind them to join a prayer chain from 8:00 to 8:02 p.m. every evening, reminiscent of Winston Churchill’s Silent Minute of Prayer during World War II.
All amazing stuff. People are singing from windows and porches, applauding healthcare workers, creating signs of appreciation and hope, placing teddy bears in yards for children, sending handwritten notes and food deliveries to the elderly and discovering wonderful ways to lift others and themselves up.
But while sitting safely in our own homes with more spare time than we’ve ever experienced, reading endless news stories, scrolling social media posts, do some of us feel an accompanying sense of guilt? We tear up as we watch acts of kindness on television. With our mortality staring us down and an itty bitty virus lying in wait, we yearn to be our best selves.
But some acts of kindness can be dangerous. Here are some examples:
- After college-aged kids arrive home from being exposed to who-knows-what, their mom offers to bring them over to visit.
- A new business owner is frightened about loosing her investment. But when a friend offers to purchase something from her store, she generously offers to give it away instead.
- A hard worker attempts to clean her client’s house. She has a new grandchild, and he’s in the high-risk category. He would have paid her regardless of whether she did the work or not but he doesn’t know how to say that.
- Two young friends offer to purchase groceries for an elderly woman (me,) and they both have underlying health conditions.
- Charities are overrun with people volunteering to come in and help feed, nurse, clean, do SOMETHING. But many of those volunteers are older and at risk themselves.
Good deeds restore our faith in humanity. Good etiquette means using common sense when you do so.
Be kind, but be smart too!
Ms. Corporate Manners
© Penny Aviotti and Ms.Corporate Manners 2003 – 2020.
From holding in that uncomfortable cough to avoiding hugs and handshakes, uncertain times lead to a range of uncertain behaviors. From a generational divide over social distancing to hoarding diapers and toilet paper, the world is upside down, and old rules of etiquette are in question.
It’s important to behave during a pandemic – remaining six feet apart, buying only what we need, thinking of others, calling home, staying put, banning outdoor shoes in the house, washing hands, washing hands, washing hands – and for goodness sake, not touching our faces or picking our noses.
Rules for shopping at the grocery store include buying only what we need without hoarding, refraining from touching products and that we have no intention of purchasing, and socially distancing in the aisles and at checkout lines.
And there’s the question of whether wearing gloves is good for your own protection but possibly bad for everyone else.
Some of us are lucky enough to be working from home. Does job insecurity bring out a competitive streak among coworkers? How do we prove our worth to bosses who can’t see us working? Do Zoom or Office Teams show who works the hardest and who is the smartest, or just showcase who is the most vocal? Can we set boundaries between work and home life while simultaneously home-schooling our children?
While a pandemic renders the handshake obsolete, washing our hands before dinner and not touching our faces during meals were rules that were included in Emily Post’s first book in 1922.
The cornerstone of etiquette also remains the same. It’s integrity. Speaking your truth with kindness and respect will never go out of style.
Stay safe and kind,
Ms. Not-So-Corporate Manners