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Respect Is the Key Word When Walking Trails

By Thelma Domenici
For the Journal
          Dear Thelma: I have recently joined the ranks of those who use the trails, and I've discovered this to be an important and refreshing quiet time for contemplation and prayer. Occasionally I bring my children with me and instruct them to walk single-file in order to leave plenty of room for those walking the other way and to discourage much conversation out of respect for others who may want their quiet time as well.
        While I applaud young moms for getting out and getting healthy with their friends and babies, I am hoping that those who walk in groups, those who have large jogging strollers, and those who like to visit loudly and walk astride will be gently reminded that they aren't the only ones to whom this walk time is precious.
        Is there etiquette for walking the various trails in our city?
        A: There is no formal etiquette for trail waking, but everything we ascribe to fits the bill with respect and responsibility at the forefront.
        In my experience on the bosque trails, people do take care of their dogs, are aware of the space needed for their strollers and are kind to fellow walkers. Most seem to understand that being outside doesn't equate to being rowdy, loud and irresponsible. It's all part of being respectful to those around us so that we all can enjoy ourselves.
        However, trail time is not a private prayer time for everyone, and the trail is not a private labyrinth. Sometimes it is playtime for parents and kids, or an exercise session for a group of friends. It is important for you to realize and respect that as you set your expectations.
        My worst experience on the trail was a time when we hid Easter eggs for the children in our family along the bosque. A man out walking got in our faces and yelled, "Get these eggs and these kids out of here!" I find that much ruder than the laughter and antics of well-supervised children, especially because he could have walked 20 yards past us and not been disturbed in the least.
        Dear Thelma: I am an administrator for a large department with an office that opens to a main hallway. Several times a day, either students, faculty or staff stop by my office for help. People knock on the door, enter, sit down and start talking to me. Then someone else comes by and stands at the door waiting to see me.
        What is the best way to handle this situation when someone needs to talk with me, but several other people are also waiting outside the door to see me? I would prefer to not close my office door.
        A: It sounds like you are known for your kindness and wise advice to others. It also sounds like you should have an assistant who schedules appointments for you.
        If an assistant is not a possibility, you need to make some changes. Require people to schedule time with you in advance. If that isn't manageable, you might consider having a list outside your door and ask those waiting to sign in to hold their place in line. Then place a call to the next person on the list when you are available.
        All of this comes back to you and your ability to communicate the system you're putting into place and stick to it. What those around you view as the norm can change, but it will take effort on your part.
        Efficient procedures and good manners never go out of style.
        Have a question about etiquette? You can ask it at www.askthelma.com. Thelma Domenici is CEO of Thelma Domenici & Associates, offering corporate coaching and contemporary social skills development programs to all ages.

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