Courtesy stems from mindfulness. Only through being mindful can we more readily take advantage of the endless opportunities to engage others courteously. The true test of courtesy is how we connect and engage when we don’t necessarily get the response we are looking for or when things don’t go exactly as planned.

Throughout our lives we will come across different types of people, experiencing different types of hardships and personal struggles. Oftentimes outside circumstances influence a person’s attitude, mood and the way they choose to engage with others. Coming off a rough day can leave people with a less heightened sensitivity for being courteous. While we aren’t excusing the lack of courtesy regardless of the circumstance, our job isn’t to change others, but rather to look inward and analyze our own actions and responses.

We can’t control how others treat us but we can control our reactions and how we respond when others choose to forgo courtesy or are blinded by outside factors. While courtesy stems from mindfulness, it is based, as is all internal work, on empathy. Courtesy can only exist when we remove ourselves from being overly judgemental.

The next time you are confronted with a lack of courtesy, give two doses of courtesy in return; one for yourself and for the person standing opposite you who is likely in need of a double portion. But remember to keep yourself in check, courtesy without humility is like a body without a soul – it’s useless.