National Courtesy Month: 15 Ways to Celebrate


September is National Courtesy Month and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Part of the reason I began My Cup of Cocoa was in reaction to the negativity, hostility, and meanness I was seeing in our world. This blog is my attempt to counterbalance all of the negative things with positive, happy, and uplifting ones. We don’t have to look very far these days to find someone behaving discourteously. It’s on the news, the internet, on the roads we drive, in the businesses we frequent. One of the best ways to respond to discourtesy is with kindness and courtesy.

I love the adage: You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Apparently, someone has tested this scientifically using honey and vinegar. It appears that, taken literally, the adage is not correct. Flies like vinegar just as much as honey. Then again, adages aren’t meant to be taken literally. When you’re talking about people, the adage still rings true.  Speaking from experience, I can tell you people respond better to being treated with respect, kindness and care than to being mistreated with anger, disrespect, and rudeness. With this in mind, let’s consider at how celebrating National Courtesy Month might just bring more happiness and contentment to our lives and the lives of those around us.

More Than Manners

Courtesy is more than having good manners. Saying “please” and “thank you” is important, but the reason behind using  those good manners is even more important. Giving courtesy to those around you is shows care and respect. When you answer that email, voice mail, or text in a prompt manner, you show respect. When you send a thank you note, it’s not just about etiquette. It’s about letting the recipient know you care and are grateful. When you hold the door for the next person, you are letting them know you see them and value them. The opposite is also true. When you show up late to meet a friend or colleague with no real explanation, you are telling them you’re schedule is more important than theirs.


astaire quote


Lack of Courtesy and What Can We Do About it

There’s not any single reason for the lack of courtesy we often experience these days. Our society seems to move faster and faster. We often set aside things that seem old-fashioned for the latest, fastest, coolest, and priciest things. People forget the value of their fellow human beings in their rush for the best. People sometimes act out of fear, anger, or indifference instead of love, understanding, and caring.

Working in the public school system, I often deal with children who have not been taught basic manners. Or worse, they have been taught to be selfish, rude, and even cruel. I have seen children whose parents teach them that winning is more important than anything else.  I have also seen children who have been taught that they are of little value to their own parents, Is it any wonder they lack common courtesy if they don’t learn it or get it at home? If we want to be cared for in our old age, we need to teach the younger generation to be caring and kind. If we want the world to be a more caring place, we need to be more caring and teach our children the importance of kindness and courtesy.

To be totally honest, my own children can be less than courteous too. They can be less than thoughtful and even downright selfish. Clearly, I need to up my game in teaching them courtesy. In fact, as I sit here writing, my son is groaning and grumbling over his homework and using a tone with me that would’ve resulted in punishment when I was his age. And I’m getting grumpier and grumpier and feeling less like helping him with his homework than ever. See how that works?  He’s not getting very far with his vinegar.

Some studies have looked at the internet’s influence on courtesy. If you’ve spent any amount of time reading comments on the internet, you’ll know what a downer it can be. Unfortunately, there are people who use the anonymity of the internet to say terrible things to and about people. They make comments that they would probably never say to someone’s face. If you haven’t seen these kinds of comments, do yourself a favor and don’t look. Just don’t do it. It’ll bring you down.

I love this advice from Thomas S. Monson: “As we arise each morning, let us determine to respond with more love and kindness to whatever might come our way.” This includes using common courtesy, even when others don’t respond in kind. I truly believe the answer to the problem of discourtesy is to answer with kindness and generosity. When I bark at my son for his bad attitude, it doesn’t get better. When I respond with love and kindness, it usually does.




21 Ways to Celebrate National Courtesy Month

  1. Remember to say please, thank you, excuse me, and you’re welcome. These are still “magic” words.

  2. Greet people with a smile.

  3. Be a good listener. Don’t interrupt.

  4. Wait your turn, even if the line is really long.

  5. Show gratitude.

  6. Excuse yourself when you leave the table or a gathering.

  7. Practice your manners everywhere, including online.

  8. Hold the door open for the person behind you.

  9. Pay sincere compliments.

  10. Send a handwritten note.

  11. Be supportive of family, friends and colleagues who are having hard times.

  12. Give the benefit of the doubt.

  13. Share.

  14. Offer your seat on public transit.

  15. Don’t go to work sick. We don’t need that kind of sharing.

  16. Clean up after your pet. There is no dog poo fairy!

  17. Leave a generous tip.

  18. Thank a member of the armed forces.

  19.  Be charitable. You can even do that while shopping online. Check out the Amazon Smile program.

  20. Learn to let go of things that hold you back, bring you down, and keep you from being kind and courteous.

  21. Teach the children in your circle of influence the importance of kindness and courtesy.



Sometimes practicing courtesy is tough. People often test our limits. It is natural to respond negatively to rudeness. But have you ever tried responding to someone who was being rude with kindness?  It throws them off. It may even turn their mood around and make them smile. And if it doesn’t, you’ve still taken the high road and refused to let them drag you down.  Remember, how people treat you says more about their character than yours. But the opposite is also true. If you treat rude people rudely, you’re no better than they are.


The Golden Rule in Many Forms

When some one treats you courteously, how does it make you feel? Appreciated? Cared for? Respected? Most days, it doesn’t take much effort to be courteous. Remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Matthew 7:12).  Basically, we need to treat people how we like to be treated.

Faiths other than Christianity have similar teachings. A teaching of Hinduism states: That which is unfavorable to us, do not do unto others. Buddhism teaches: Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. Janism teaches: A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated.  Islam teaches: That which you want for yourself, seek for all mankind. Judaism teaches: What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. It isn’t a coincidence that most major world religions teach the importance of respect and courtesy. A society without respect and courtesy for and between it’s citizens won’t be successful very long.

courtesy is contagious


Courtesy is Contagious

Our world can use a little more kindness, a little more respect for others, and a little more common courtesy. So why not celebrate National Courtesy Month and see what you catch using sweetness and honey.  I’d love to hear about your experiences with kindness, respect, and, of course, courtesy. Please tell me about them in the comment section below.

Thanks for reading and please share!


love Leah