What do shoeless driving and etiquette have in common?

The other day, as I drove to give a client training, I took my right pump off so I wouldn’t scuff it on the car mat. I don’t usually do that. As I felt my stockinged foot pressing on the gas pedal the very different sensation made me question if I was shifting properly. I had to actually think through how to shift – something that is normally so natural and intuitive that I don’t have to focus on it. But I did with my shoe off.

It made me realize that in a lot of ways etiquette is the same way. So often what I teach are things we know, and may even know so well that we forget we know them. But, over time perhaps we take our knowledge for granted and get cocky. Or maybe you notice that others around you aren’t being mannerly, so you figure it’s OK to follow suit.

For example: Perhaps you learned it’s not OK to listen to your voicemail messages on speaker phone in a cubicle, but since no one has complained you figure it’s alright. Or maybe you know you should respond to an invitation, but rarely seeing others do it you decide you don’t really need to. Perhaps you know it’s important to make introductions, but since you don’t know one of the parties’ name you forgo the introduction – “What was it that etiquette trainer said about making an introduction when you’ve forgotten someone’s name?”

Driving with my shoe off made me more mindful of driving. It made me focus on the feeling of the pedals under my feet and the timing of shifting. I encourage you to “take your shoe off” when interacting with others. Think about how you are making others feel and how you feel about yourself in your interactions. If you’ve gotten into some bad habits see if you can be more mindful, more courteous and gracious. You’ll be happier and so will those around you.

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