Chivalry alive whilst common courtesy is dying?


Chivalry, is it still alive in modern today whilst common courtesy is slowing but surely diminishing?

First, let’s define chivalry using the very succinct definition from the Collins English Dictionary;

Chivalry: is polite, kind and unselfish behaviour, especially by men towards women.

Of course there are variations and extensions of this definition however this one is apt for today’s topic.

A few weeks ago grandson Master 10 was spending some time with me at my home. He stood up from his seat at the dining table as I took mine. It was obvious that he immediately noticed the perplexed expression on my face when he offered up an explanation without me uttering a word. He told me that it is manners to stand when a lady sits down. I wondered from where or whom he had learned this. I was quite taken given the fact that it is not common practice in these modern times.

Not too many days later I noticed another act of chivalry from another grandson whom was spending time with me; Master 2 & ½. I went to exit through a door. He immediately pushed the door and held it open so I could walk through carrying the laundry basket. Then he insisted on pushing my laundry trolley for me to the clothesline. This was not as surprising to me as his father, my eldest son, was the same in his youth. He displays these traits still to this day.

The respect and kindness shown by these young people is most appealing. As the recipient, those small acts make their mark in my life. I am proud of them for showing such polite and kind behaviour towards myself and everyone they encounter. My hope is that they not only carry this throughout their lifetime but it encourages their peers to do the same.

When my eldest son was around 10 or 11 years of age, he was with me at a shopping centre. On our walk back to our car, all of a sudden he shot off like a rocket, running away from me. To any parent that is very concerning when a child leaves your side, especially in a car-park. An overwhelming sense of pride for what I witnessed rushed through me. He had seen an older lady struggling with her trolley, so he went to assist her. He offered his help, pushed her trolley to her vehicle and loaded its contents into her car for her then took the trolley to a collection bay. She was most appreciative and I was most proud.

I can see that Master 2 & ½ will be much the same as he grows in years. He has impeccable manners and awareness of the goings on in his environment; much more than some adults I know. On another occasion I mumbled quietly, so I had thought. It was out of frustration. Something that I soon found was audible for his keen little ears. Immediately he voiced ‘Sorry Nanny’. I melted as it was not his doing that was the source of my frustration. Despite this, he offered what he had in order to make me feel better.

Common courtesy

The characteristics of chivalry also form common courtesy; kind and polite behaviour towards others. From my observations, this appears to be on the decline. I do wonder why this is the case as it takes very little to offer a few words to someone, to let someone ahead of you in a line in the supermarket or in traffic or return a phone call.  I have also considered the impact a lack of courtesy from businesses towards their customers might have on them. It seems though that these businesses continue to operate.  So does that mean there are many people who disregard the lack of very decent common courtesy and do not take their custom elsewhere? Have people become tolerant of this behaviour and just ignore or accept it?

How difficult is it for folks in general to be polite and courteous in all their dealings in their daily lives? Those who are polite and courteous, I show my appreciation. I have provided feedback on service to managers and supervisors.

One such occasion I provided feedback on a specific staff member for her impressive customer service. The next time I was at that business, she provided the same exceptional service. I thanked her once again and asked had her manager spoken to her about doing a great job. She asked if I was the lady that had taken the time to let her boss know how well she was doing. Her smile was as broad as the day is long. She thanked me with elation and advised that she had received recognition from both her local and regional manager.

I encouraged her to continue providing the same service to everyone, every time. She excitedly pointed me out to the second in charge as I exited the store. Her politeness and courtesy had stood out for me on that particular day. So it was not difficult for me to take two minutes of my time to phone her manager to compliment a job well done.

Then there are occasions when the opposite happens. I often say something directly to the person that has not shown any courtesy at the time. Other instances I will also contact their employer and provide my comments. I wrote about such an occasion previously. You can read more at the link below entitled “Speak Please”.

We live in a very busy society these days; people are short on time. This is no excuse for not showing common courtesy, kindness and politeness to those we meet throughout our days. A simple minute of time where you are generous in words and actions has the opportunity of making someone’s day that much better. Wouldn’t we enjoy and appreciate that for ourselves?

I will continue to encourage the chivalry and courtesy in my grandchildren and live with hope their behaviour will have a positive flow-on effect on their peers. The next generation may be able to turn this around and see the return of courtesy, more kindness and manners and common-sense as commonplace behaviour.

Further reading:

Speak Please –

Chivalry –




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.