The Relevance of Euthenics or What the Heck is Euthenics?

 The textbook for the Euthenics class.
The textbook for the Euthenics class.

A few short decades ago when I was in college, I took a course called Euthenics II.  It was a manners, etiquette, whatever you want to call it course. I LOVED the class!

Euthenics is defined by Dictionary.com as:

noun, (used as a singular verb)
A science concerned with bettering the condition of human beings through the improvement of their environment.

The course I took honed in on the aspect of gracious and appropriate behavior as a means of improving our environment. Without refinement and polishing, would we ever get a good job, spouse or friends? Although animal instincts would keep us alive, good behavior helps us to live a happy existence.

I love the definition of Euthenics, because that is what I feel our life on earth should be about, whether it is through work, volunteer activities or how we spend our free time.

Euthenics II was a summer course I took in probably 1987 that used the book, Social Usage, Second Edition, dated 1969, as the text. It was a really great class that should be mandatory in any college degree program. We learned social and business etiquette, including stationery, invitations, dress, table settings, table manners, parties, etc.

That was a great summer semester...euthenics and aerobics!
That was a great summer semester…euthenics and aerobics!

The funny thing about using a twenty year old text book is that etiquette never goes out of style; it is not a fad or passing fancy. The brilliant thing about using it to teach an etiquette class to a bunch of college students is that when we graduated, our potential employers were of the generation when the book was written. We were going to be held to that standard when we went on interviews, so we might as well be familiar and comfortable with the rules.

So what is the relevance of euthenics?

Ultimately, if we (mankind) aren’t on this earth to better the human condition and improve our environment, why are we here?  I want the next generation to have a beautiful, powerful experience of life, not a Mad Max movie full of ugly, utilitarian sparseness.

Isn’t etiquette really just graciousness? Isn’t that what good customer service really is? So when we lament the lack of good customer service then say that etiquette is out of vogue, we have just explained why the latter is true because of the former!

If we want great customer service, we need to teach folks good manners.

For example, I recently had a call from a vendor. The lady left a message on my cell phone. At the end of her (uninformative) message, she yawned. Was leaving me a message boring her? Probably, because it bored me to listen to it, but if she knew that it is very bad behavior to yawn in someone’s ear, maybe she could have provided better customer service by telling me what I needed to know.

Or how about the customer that called me quite heated that my company had not done what I was suppose to do. In her lack of listening, she could not hear my answer. After two hours and four employees trying to assist her, she finally found out she was wrong. Someone had lied to her. She did not apologize nor thank us for our time.  Thank goodness my staff was gracious during the entire interaction.

Just like common sense is no longer common, common courtesy seems to have followed suit.

Folks, if we can’t live on this earth, in our towns, and do business with each other in a kind and gentle manner, then why are we here? Do we really have to teach people how to be nice? Shouldn’t the Golden Rule (either translation: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, AND those with the gold make the rules) be enough of an incentive for people to be nice, friendly and helpful?

Bonus Information:  As of late, I keep reading and hearing people refer to good/great/outstanding customer service as just customer service.  I saw a resume that the job seeker had listed as a skill “customer service.”  Have we gotten so off-track that just serving the customer should praised, no matter the manner in which we served them?

Leave a Reply

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