Common Courtesy

1. Thank people who help you even though they are just doing their job, e.g. waiters, cashiers, receptionists, cleaning lady, deliverymen.

2. Use the word “please”, “thank you” and “sorry” a lot. You cannot function effectively with people if these three words don’t roll off your tongue easily.

3. Leave the toilet seat down (for men who pee standing). I am divided on the question of toilet lid: On one hand, I usually leave them down because it seems like a proper thing to do, but on the other hand it is not pleasant to open a toilet lid and see other people’s treasures inside.

4. Flush everything — tissue paper, urine, cigarette butt, candy wrapper. And if you leave skidmarks in the bowl, please scrub it clean.

I know people who don’t flush their pee. Why?

5. Don’t leave the toilet seat wet, and Please, For The Love of God, please don’t wet the floor. Use water carefully, don’t let it splash all over the place.

I once remarked this to a friend, and he responded, in a holier-than-thou tone, that dry toilet floors are “not Islamic”. I was, like, what the duck? Do we need fatwa on basic hygiene?

Enough on toilets…

6. Please introduce yourself properly when talking on the phone. This is very important. I repeat, tell me WHO YOU ARE on the phone before we have any conversation. Every other day, I get into this kind of conversation:

A: Hello bal. Assalamualaikum

B: Waalaikumussalam. Siapa tu

A: Ala bal, takkan tak kenal

B: Errr…siapa ek? sorry tak cam suara

A: Ala…tak kenal ke? cuba teka siapa

B: Aiseh malas aku nak main teka2. siapa ni.

A: ni Hafiz la.

B: Hafiz mana ni? (aku kenal ade la dalam 80 orang Hafiz)

A: Ala…aku Hafiz, kawan ko masa kat sekolah dulu. Ingat tak ko duduk asrama sebelah dorm aku.

WTFFF???? Dah la aku keluar sekolah berpuluh tahun dulu, lepas tu kat sekolah tu ada 800 orang, nama Hafiz je ada lah dekat 15 orang, pastu ko budget aku boleh cam suara ko? Muka ko macam mana pun aku dah lupa.

Walaupun ko famous sekali pun, dan ko rasa macam semua orang kenal sekali pun, tolonglah kenalkan diri anda dengan proper. Jangan perasan semua orang pikir pasal ko je sepanjang masa sampai hafal ko punya bunyi suara.

Salah satu contoh yang baik ialah seorang rakan saya di dalam Aidan. Walaupun kami bekerja di syarikat yang sama, jumpa setiap hari, cakap phone hampir setiap hari, dan no. tel dia ada dalam handphone saya, tetapi bila dia call saya, dia akan perkenalkan diri dahulu. This is courtesy.

(back to english.)

7. Please knock on the door and give salam whenever entering a room with a closed door.

Last week, I was in office with some students, and then I knock on the door of the meeting room to check if anyone’s inside. One of my students asked, “sir, kenapa sir ketuk pintu, bukan ofis ni sir punya ke?”. I replied, “yes right, but there might be people in there who are doing private matters, and I don’t want their privacy being encroached upon.”

I am an extremely private person and I have utmost respect for people’s privacy.

8. If people email you for a specific request (other than spam or mass email), reply the email. If you don’t want to continue the correspondence, be brief and clear. Don’t leave people hanging.

It is a courtesy to tell people who asked for your help, whether you are going to help them or not. Keeping people waiting and guessing for an answer is rude, even though you don’t know the person.

9. When dealing with money, be as straightforward as possible. Don’t shame or pressure the other party to enter a transaction they are unhappy with. Don’t make people feel “serba salah” when they are dealing with you.

Also, don’t force people to name a price on the spot. The proper way to do business is to request (in writing or verbally) a quotation for products to be purchased or services to be rendered, and let the provider give his quotation in his own sweet time, without any pressure.

10. Address other people with respect. I have a friend I attended primary school with who just got a doctorate. I call him “Dr. XXXX” even though we’ve known each other as kids. The reason is because one time I called him without the title Dr., and his face soured a bit. I think he is an asshole, but even assholes deserve respect (especially assholes with Ph.D.).

Unless a person explicitly requests you not to call him with titles, then err on the side of over-titling. For example, I don’t care to be called with any title, so some of my students call me Suhaimi (although most of them called me Sir or Mr Suhaimi or Cikgu). some of my young friends who became YB, usually don’t like to be called YB, so I just call them using their names. Kalau YB tua, maybe kisah kut pasal title2 ni. orang tua kan suka protokol

People who had been to Hajj, I call them Haji or Hajjah for courtesy — although I never agree on the use of Haji or Hajjah, because there is no religious basis in Islam.

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