Forgotten etiquettes: The lines between genuine concern and intrusive curiosity

Posted on

People are shopping for Eid essentials at Srinagar's Hari Singh High Street Market. [FPK Photo/Zainab]

I spent my formative years in Kashmir, and the latter part of my life has taken me to various corners of the world, exposing me to diverse cultures and languages. Despite my travels, my heart always yearns for the warmth and hospitality of my Kashmir – my home.

The warmth, the love and the unparalleled hospitality of my Kashmir is unmatched. We are a very close knit community. We take care of each other like no other. We ecstatically celebrate each other’s joy and mourn our neighbours’ loss as our own.

However sometimes the lines get blurred and we overstep the fence. We unintentionally cross boundaries, blurring the lines between genuine concern and intrusive curiosity.

To foster a progressive tolerant society, we must unlearn to intrude in someone’s private space in the name of ‘concern’ and learn to contain our inquisitiveness. We have no business to fan the fire in someone else’s heart just to settle the embers of our curiosity.

As a society, it’s crucial for us to embrace certain etiquettes and basic manners to embody the values of our religion and culture effectively. Through acts of kindness and consideration towards others, individuals contribute to the overall well-being and unity within their community.

As any other ordinary individual, I have experienced being on both sides of the coin. I have been guilty of being a participant of such prying discussions and at other times at the receiving end of unbearable queries. None of us is perfect but we all can acknowledge our follies and strive to be the best version of ourselves and spread positivity and kindness.

Mannerisms and etiquette are like muscles that need regular exercise to stay strong. A refresher course, like the following, can help us fine-tune our social skills and ensure that we’re presenting ourselves in the best possible light.


While visiting the sick 

Offer a listening ear, lend a shoulder and comfort them emotionally. Avoid comparisons or anecdotes about others who have experienced similar illnesses or circumstances. Each person’s experience is unique, and focusing on their individual journey rather than drawing parallels can be more supportive.

Respect their privacy and refrain from asking to see wounds, stitches, or scars. Avoid passing negative remarks on changes in their physical appearance or making sad or discouraging gestures.

Instead redirect the conversation to more positive or neutral topics, such as current affairs, and express well wishes for their recovery that can help lift their spirits and provide a sense of normalcy amidst challenging circumstances.


While offering condolences for the loss of life  

Expressing empathy and offering prayers for the deceased and their loved ones is a compassionate way to show support during a difficult time. Share kind words and fond memories of the deceased person to bring comfort to grieving family members and friends.

Avoid causing unnecessary distress for the bereaved by enquiring about the graphic details or the cause of death. Instead, focus on offering support and condolences without delving into sensitive details.

Similarly, refrain from making comments about the challenges the family may face, such as being orphaned or widowed. No matter how well-intentioned, such remarks can inadvertently add to the burden of grief and may not be helpful in the immediate aftermath of loss.

Instead, offering practical support and reassurance of ongoing care and support can be more meaningful gestures during this time of mourning.


While being a guest

Being a considerate guest involves respecting the boundaries and preferences of your hosts. Informing them in advance of your visit allows them to prepare and ensures that your visit is convenient for them. Once you’re at their residence, refraining from making negative comments about aspects of their home, such as its size or decor, is essential to maintain a positive atmosphere.

Respecting their privacy by refraining from peeking into drawers, cabinets, or private areas like the wash-room is crucial. Offering to help with tasks, especially cleaning up any messes caused by your children, demonstrates thoughtfulness and consideration for your hosts’ space.

Overall, being a gracious guest involves being mindful of your hosts’ comfort and respecting their home and privacy. It fosters positive relationships and ensures enjoyable visits for everyone involved.


When seeing someone after a long time

When reconnecting with someone after a long time, it’s important to approach the interaction with warmth and consideration. Starting with a genuine smile and expressing interest in their well-being sets a positive tone for the conversation.

Avoiding negative comments about changes in their physical appearance like weight loss or weight gain, changes in skin texture or colour, hair-loss, etc is respectful and avoids potential discomfort.

Asking personal questions about sensitive topics like marital issues, family planning, finances, or salary is inappropriate and can make the other person feel uncomfortable or intruded upon.

It’s best to steer the conversation towards more neutral topics or areas of mutual interest, allowing both parties to enjoy the interaction without any discomfort or awkwardness.


Speaking to children  

Interacting with children requires sensitivity and respect for their boundaries. Acknowledging a child’s hesitancy or shyness and giving them space to warm up is crucial for building trust and comfort.

Respecting their autonomy by never forcing physical contact, such as hugs, and always asking for consent is essential. Additionally, refraining from prying into a family’s personal matters through their children demonstrates respect for their privacy and dignity.

Treating children with kindness and consideration lays the foundation for positive interactions and healthy relationships.

Lastly, in every relation and human interaction, be conscious of your boundaries and before you label anyone toxic or unfriendly, make sure to be mindful of your own behaviour and introspect that reason for any kind of adverse reaction from the other person is not you.

Often, conflicts or perceived negativity in relationships can stem from misunderstandings, miscommunications, or unmet expectations on both sides.

Recognising the importance of manners and etiquette as a continual journey of self-improvement is a mindset that fosters growth and empathy. It’s through this self-awareness and ongoing effort that we can all contribute to creating a more respectful and compassionate world.


Disclaimer: In no way, does the author of this article consider herself worthy of preaching manners to others. It’s a reminder to her first and then anyone else. 

Click to comment

Most Popular

© 2024 Free Press Kashmir. All rights reserved.

Exit mobile version