Written by Deborah Mecklinger, LL.B, M.S.W, A.T.C
Living in lockdown has shortened everyone’s fuse. Heightened stress, however, does not mean we should expect less of our partners. On the contrary, we should strive to deliver more, reducing our negative output and elevating our behavior.
While there is no substitute for respect, compromise and cooperation, good manners can go a long way towards easing the many stresses of life on lockdown.
We speak of them often, but do we truly understand what manners are and the role they play in our interactions? At their most basic, manners are polite behaviors that reflect an attitude of consideration, kindness and respect for others. A well-mannered person, for example, remembers to say “Please” and “Thank you” and refrains from interrupting others in the middle of a conversation. These small acts express consideration for others and promote a larger spirit of benevolence.
It’s especially important to mind our manners in times such as these, with crowded households living and working in close proximity. The following handful of tips can help us all put our best foot forward in these challenging times:
- Remember your cell phone etiquette. Turn ringers down. Be mindful of the sounds generated from incoming notifications and the click of your keyboard. Put the phone away during time spent with your partner, and refrain from answering calls or returning texts during face-to-face conversations. In our new work-from-home reality, it’s easy for our professional and personal lives to coalesce. Respect your partner by establishing and then maintaining some boundaries.
- Don’t be nose blind! Working from home doesn’t negate the importance of good personal hygiene. While your colleagues may not see your dirty nails and stained clothes, your partner can. Moreover, just because your colleagues can’t smell you on Zoom, your partner certainly can. Clean up your act.
- Don’t pollute the airspace. Remember: you are sharing a communal space 24/7 and that includes all of your personal noises and odours! Be respectful of your partner’s comfort and exercise the same level of self-control as you might on a first date or if presenting to an audience.
- Be on time for any joint activity with your partner, whether that’s sharing a meal or going for a walk. Be courteous and respect your partner’s time.
- Finally, don’t be a space hog! This is especially important if living in close quarters. If you are sharing a workspace, keep your section of the table or room clean and tidy. Maintain any established boundaries and don’t encroach on your partner’s space. This standard also extends to other behaviours in the home. Knock before entering a room or opening a closed door. Make the bed, do the dishes, tidy the living room. These small actions communicate respect for your partner and the home you share together.
Remember the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Now, more than ever, we should elevate our manners and bring grace and polish to life on lockdown.
About the Author Deborah Mecklinger
Deborah Mecklinger is an experienced professional coach well known for her work in the areas of divorce mediation, conflict resolution, and individual, couple and family therapy. She is also the founder of "walkthetalk," a professional coaching program that aims to provide consistency between actions and stated intention. Deborah holds an LL. B degree from Osgoode Hall and an MSW from the University of Toronto and is an Accredited Family Mediator (AccFM) with the OAFM. Deborah has studied at Oxford University, the Adler School of Professional Coaching and The Stepfamily Foundation in New York. She is a certified coach and a master certified step-family coach. Deborah is accredited in organizational dispute resolution, facilitation, interest-based negotiation and child protection meditation.
Deborah began her career as a divorce mediator therapist and coach at the Family Mediation & Conciliation Program in South Florida. She has also worked as a mediator and trainer with CDR Associates in Boulder, Colorado. After her return to Canada, Deborah worked as a lawyer for the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto and as a mediator and facilitator for the Sutton Place Hotel in Toronto before transitioning to private practice.
Deborah’s expertise ranges from divorce to the corporate world as she helps others communicate, resolve conflict and set goals so they can live more intentional and productive lives. Deborah is committed to ongoing learning and mentorship and has taught family mediation and dispute resolution at the University of Toronto and Seneca College. She is a frequent contributor to media articles examining contemporary relationship challenges and has been cited in The Globe and Mail, the Huffington Post, Time Magazine, the Toronto Sun and other publications. Deborah is also a popular guest on radio and television. Her professional background and experience underpins her practice as a professional coach and supports her commitment to help her clients walk the talk. To reach Deborah click here.