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Self-Awareness and Manners in Today's Environment

In today’s mood and environment, we as a society often struggle with finding common ground. The lack of self-awareness, common courtesy, and respect for the feelings and needs of others is contributing to, or maybe the reason for, such discourse and inability to even consider, let alone listen to, differing viewpoints.

This has caused a disruption in basic manners, in how we treat and interact with each other. But I believe the root cause is not simply that we disagree on how things should be done, I believe we, meaning humans, are at risk of losing sight of who we are as individuals, and for how much we are ultimately responsible for the outcomes of interactions with others.

I must also clearly state that you, and you alone, are responsible for your behaviors and reactions to others. And although you are not responsible for the behavior of others, you have complete control over how you choose and intend to interact with others in the first place.

This commentary is not based on politics or generational discrimination, nor am I placing heavier blame on any particular group of people, as what I have observed is found everywhere. These behaviors are not new nor are they unique to any particular generation. Yep, that’s right, all groups are guilty of what I am about to discuss, across the board, without barriers or prejudices, so I have not been able to pinpoint or even dared to develop a hypothesis on the root cause of this lack of emotional intelligence, self-awareness and consideration.

But I will try to break it down for everyone.

Let’s start with the groundwork.

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, can be defined as the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.

According to the British School of Etiquette(1), if you’re high in emotional intelligence, you are more skilled at judging and adjusting to situations accordingly. You are aware of your surroundings and react with empathy, respect and kindness.

These behaviors with which I frequently witness are prime examples and proof that society at large struggles greatly with emotional intelligence and as a result, self-awareness. To support my observations, there are numerous studies, reports, and statistics that show that while up to 95% of people think they are self-aware, the number is truly closer to 10-15%. According to subject matter expert Tasha Eurich(2), there are two broad categories of self-awareness: internal (how we see ourselves) and external (understanding how the world sees us). It turns out they are not dependent upon each other, and we all need to work on the development of both types.

So, what is self-awareness? It’s the capacity for introspection and the ability to recognize oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals.

But Dr. Eurich and her team also found that introspection, the self-reflection that many of us do to figure out why we do what we do, is sometimes misleading and done incorrectly - which, again, does not lead to a greater self-awareness. When working on growth and self-improvement, results point to learning how to ask ourselves what we can do differently, rather than why is this happening to us. What I have found is that behaviors throughout the general public seem to support these findings.

My observation is that many people are far more concerned with their own world, and much less about how their actions impact the world around them.

And let me clarify - I am not asking you to care about what others think about you - that’s still not of your business. What I am asking is that you think about how your actions are affecting your environment and those around you, and what you can do to change and improve your manners.

Rather than just list some general practices that can help heighten your self-awareness, I chose few areas in particular that I would like to address where people can make immediate improvements. If you believe these don’t apply to you, before you make your final decision, take a few minutes and truly think about it. When these behaviors are called out to people, they act surprised that their behaviors are negatively impacting anyone else - again, displaying a lack of self-awareness. And what’s worse, rather than being apologetic and making an immediate correction, they become defensive, some indignant, and usually argumentative.

First - movie theaters.

Oooo…I just your groan from here. Yep, through the computer, loud and clear.

Going to see a movie should be an enjoyable experience. From the monstrous IMAX screens to the impressive 3-D and digital projection and sound technologies, to the reclining seats and in-seat service provided by some VIP theaters found in megaplexes, you have the opportunity to be immersed into another world to distract you from your troubles or travel to other dimensions.