Youth Get a Bad Rep
As I was sitting in a meeting about a new program that was coming to the educational institute I work for, my attention was peaked when I heard the coordinator say that there would be a class to teach “tact and diplomacy” as a part of the course requirements. I suppose I was intrigued because I am in the business of image, etiquette and leadership in my side hustle, VNC Image and Etiquette, and these are exactly the types of things I teach or talk about.
I see the basics of manners, protocol, image and respect (the precursors to tact and diplomacy) are in such a demand in this world we live in. I came to notice it mostly in my days as an employment counsellor. Clients would come in smelling like pot smoke, slouching, wiping their noses on their sleeves and void of any vocabulary that gave any semblance to manners. Of course, I paint a picture of the clients that needed the biggest introduction to tact and diplomacy but there are many that just don’t know what they don’t know about making a good impression with just these small but significant ideals.
The thought that it is going to be included in a college degree program was great as far as I was concerned but it got me to thinking. Why is this an issue today? I came up with a list of what I thought could be causing the shift away from such things as tact and diplomacy. I have no empirical data to back this list up but it might generate a discussion or perhaps a hypothesis. See what you think:
It’s a busy world we live in with many households having 1 or 2 working parents. These parents then have to manage the household, volunteer commitments and the children’s extra-curricular schedule. This is my world. I try my hardest to teach manners, respect, etiquette and protocol and model this the best I can but I know my children are picking up many behaviours outside the home. Some of them are not the most favourable.
Lack of structured religion
Typically, there are good things that come out of regular church attendance despite one’s stance on religion or faith. There is a common practice in most faiths to preach The Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would have done unto you”. It fosters community, provides a spiritual connection, reinforces social and civic duty and allows for the facilitation of gratitude and respect. With the decline in church attendance over the past several decades, this is a resource that isn’t being accessed or introduced to our young to enlighten them on such things.
Decorum or comportment aren’t taught in school today
My parents and grandparents talked about classes in decorum and/or comportment or just regular inspections on one’s wardrobe, posture or etiquette. They further mentioned they hated them but that what they took from them was important for how they carried themselves today. It comes down to respect. Although it is expected in many educational environments, I’m not sure it is defined as a part of curriculum in those same institutions. And if there are no guidelines or structure, respect can be a very subjective topic.
Because news of kidnappings, sexual abuse and other violence in society, parents have had to take a more active role in ensuring the safety of their children. This, in return, has taken away the opportunity for our children to develop physical independence as well as independence in thought. They cannot learn from the experience of having their own feelings or problem-solving tactics on difficult matters and therefore do not learn how to control them or appropriately express them. Many youth today develop a sense of entitlement because of the overprotective nature of parenting today.
As our society embraces new or varied cultures, the lines of understanding of what is respectful or civil may become blurred. What was once considered polite and cordial to some may not be considered the same to others if they have a different understanding or perspective. A new sensitivity and openness to these different perspectives are quickly becoming a necessity as our world becomes more globalized.
The impact of technology on our lives becomes more apparent and comes at us at a much quicker pace than ever before. It changes the way we communicate no doubt. A dichotomy of respect has emerged between those who are having to embrace newer and quicker technologies and those who are born into it and don’t need to embrace for it is their world. Many adults complain that technology creates disrespect when it is used in place of face-to-face communication. Youth today, don’t necessarily regard technology use as rude because this what they know and this is how they communicate. Because technology has moved in (what seems) so quickly, it is changing the rules of etiquette and courtesy when it comes to communication.
Curious to learn more about Tact and Diplomacy? Head over to The Art of Tact and Diplomacy.