Are You Considerate of Others?
CONSIDERATION is thoughtful or sympathetic regard for the opinions and actions of others. This is what we are expressing when we speak softly in hallways or when we turn our radios low at night or when we write a thank you note or a letter of condolence. In fact, we are being considerate every time we say “May I?” or “Thank you” or “Please” or “I’m sorry.” The truth is that it is so simple to be considerate that many of us express consideration hundreds of times daily without even being aware that we are doing it. Yet so essential and basic is consideration that without it life would be miserable. Each day’s contacts would rub us raw were it not that others show us some consideration.
Perhaps the best way to test yourself to see whether you are considerate of others or not is to check your attitude toward other people and your treatment of them, especially the people who serve or work for you. Author Frances Benton in his article “Modern Book of Good Manners” makes an interesting observation. He says: “An old axiom states that in all of our relationships with those who are employed to give us service we must be more polite, more considerate, more careful than in our relationships with anyone else. This applies of course to how you treat your cleaning woman, the saleswoman who is waiting on you, the waitress at the lunch counter, your hairdresser, the office boy. It applies also to how each of these people treats the people who serve him. Any rudeness to such an employee is inexcusable because the employee might endanger his livelihood if he answered you in the same way. It is impossible to watch a man argue testily with a waiter or a woman tongue-lash a salesperson without questioning the person’s whole code of behavior and decency.”
Others who serve us and who deserve more than our usual consideration are teachers, lecturers and ministers of God. Habitual latecomers to classes or meetings, doodlers or people who indifferently allow themselves to fall fast asleep or to drowse during lecture periods or religious services are usually lacking in consideration. Also, those who mill around in the corridors during assembly sessions, when they should be seated listening, display this same disregard for the speaker as well as for what is said.
Another expression of our basic consideration for others is how we act at home. There are persons who put on their best manners for outsiders, but disregard those nearest and dearest to them in the family circle. Many of these people will wipe their shoes clean before entering the neighbor’s house, but never do the same when entering their own house. They will have the best of table manners when away from home, but discard them when at home. They would not think of leaving a messy bathroom at a friend’s house, but at home they are untidy. They force others to clean up after them. Think of the change it would make at home if they were constant and impartial in their consideration. The house would be neater and relations would be by far friendlier. Each would be looking out for the other person’s interests. That is the way it should be, according to the Bible. Paul, the apostle, writes: “Let each one keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person.” Again he counsels: Keep “an eye, not in personal interest upon just your own matters, but also in personal interest upon those of the others,” because love “does not look for its own interests.” If such interest is shown at home, then at the dinner table one would not wait for the other to ask for the food to be passed, but would be observant of the others’ needs. The hostess would inquire before serving, appreciating that not all have the same eating habits. Thus consideration makes for a happier, fuller life.—1 Cor. 10:24; Phil. 2:4; 1 Cor. 13:5.
Still other expressions of our basic consideration for others can be seen in the way we conduct ourselves in public. Making a show of oneself is not being considerate of others. Speaking loudly in a crowded elevator or monopolizing a conversation is not only inconsiderate but rude. Smoking in public conveyances or where others cannot get away from you is also very impolite and inconsiderate. Coughing your cold into other people’s faces does not speak very highly of you and your respect for other people. There are other things one might unconsciously do out of force of habit, such as combing one’s hair or cleaning one’s fingernails at the dinner table or removing one’s false teeth in public. But, remember, as to personal habits, it is not considerate to do anything in public that might annoy, embarrass, disgust or inconvenience others.
Considerate people do not crowd the sidewalk by walking three or four abreast so others cannot pass easily or by holding a conversation right in the middle of the sidewalk. They move off to one side if they meet a friend to whom they want to talk. Consideration for others suggests that one not stand or sit in front of a doorway and thus force others to step over him or push past him to enter.
Good advice for all is to be considerate of the other person’s desire for privacy. The Scriptures state: “Make your foot rare at the house of your fellow man, that he may not have his sufficiency of you and certainly hate you.” Do not wear out your welcome by making too frequent visits to the house of your fellow man is the counsel of the proverb.—Prov. 25:17.
Bear in mind that consideration for others is in reality love in action, our showing neighbor love. This being the case, we should be on the lookout for ways to express this quality. We can be considerate of all men by being tactful in our speech and considerate in our actions, thus making life happier for all concerned.