Goodness Gracious You!

We all know kindness isn’t exactly one of Singapore’s key strengths. Here’s the report from the  ‘State of Graciousness Survey‘ by the Singapore Kindness Movement.

In the third “The State of Graciousness in Singapore” survey, the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM) found a significant gap between Singaporeans’ self-perception on how they performed when it comes to graciousness versus their perception on how fellow citizens fared.  43% (435) rated themselves high on graciousness while only 15% (155) rated others likewise.

In addition, 88% (876) felt they had done a kind act in the last six months, yet only 55% (553) felt they had received one during the same period.  There was a significant proportion of respondents who had not experienced kindness but who claimed to have done kindness (35%; 347); and a worrying group who had not experienced kindness and were not bothered with doing kindness (10%; 101).

Dr William Wan, General Manager of SKM, said: “Singaporeans consistently give harsher assessments of fellow Singaporeans and are more forgiving towards themselves.  The findings showed an unhealthy level of self-centeredness and self-absorption, and not being aware of and not appreciating the efforts of others.  This is the attitude that we want to change.  If we are successful, we can look forward to graciousness on all fronts and not specific to any particular action or behaviour.”

The challenge ahead will not be an easy one for SKM as Singaporeans are indifferent to improving their graciousness.  62% (621) agreed to the statement “It is not possible for Singapore to become a more gracious place due to the hectic and stressed lifestyle in Singapore” and only 38% (380) disagreed.

In the same vein, only 5% (52) highlighted better upbringing at home as a factor to improving graciousness.  Though respondents largely agreed that educationplays a key role: 31% (313) highlighted more public education and 22% (224) mentioned educating the young at school.

Dr Wan commented: “Educating and inculcating graciousness as a value should be on all fronts, and the responsibility of all guardians, in particular the parents.  The absence of their contribution will undermine all efforts.  Graciousness needs to start at home.”

The Graciousness Index

This year, Singaporeans scored 60 on the graciousness index (61 in 2010 and 58 in 2009).  Overall, 48% (485) felt the level of graciousness has not changed, 25% (250) felt it has improved, 8% (81) felt it has declined and 18% (185) were unsure.  66% (665) agreed that Singapore is already a gracious place to live in and 34% (336) disagreed.

Singaporeans also pointed to public transport, public spaces and public eating places as the top three areas that needed the most improvement in the survey. 

Dr Wan added:  “We have been addressing these areas over the last few years.  Clearly more needs to be done and we will endeavour, in particular with regards to graciousness on public transport.  In addition to addressing some teething unfavourable behaviours, we will be encouraging a broader attitude and value change.”

With the support from the public transport operators (SMRT and SBS Transit), SKM is currently running a public education campaign to spread the message of graciousness on buses and trains.  Large posters and stickers have been put up at four bus interchanges, six train stations, and 200 bus stop shelters, as well as in 72 trains and 204 buses.  These act as timely reminders for all to practice graciousness on public transport at all times.  These messages will be up from April to September 2011.

Dr Wan furthered: “We can only hope to be a gracious society when we all take ownership of kindness – be a little more self-aware each day, recognise and appreciate the kindness and graciousness around us, and play a part in modelling, inspiring, transmitting and empoweringthe spirit of kindness and graciousness.  Collectively we will be able to take a big step forward in achieving graciousness.”

While more can be accomplished, Singapore has done fairly well in the way others perceive us.  Tourists and foreigners working here viewed Singapore as a gracious society.  While Singaporeans ranked Japan and Thailand ahead of herself as gracious societies, tourists ranked Singapore, Japan and Thailand as the top three (in order of ranking), and foreigners working here ranked Japan, Singapore and Thailand as the top three (in order of ranking).

Held in the first quarter of 2011 to track how Singaporeans fared on the social graciousness front, the survey saw 1,404 participants (1,001 citizens and permanent residents; 202 work permit and employment pass holders; and 201 tourists).

Do you think the findings are reflective of Singaporean behavior as you know it?

How do you this attitude can be improved (if there needs to be one)? Is there some root issue? 

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2 thoughts on “Goodness Gracious You!

  1. I think that the findings are reflective of Singaporean. I agree that public transports and spaces are the areas that need the most improvement. I have witnessed several inconsiderate acts when I am at public spaces. One of the reason for our poor behaviour could be due to our fast pace of life. We are less aware of our surrounding. We are also less aware on how our small acts can affect how the public judges our behaviour and attitude. I agree with what Dr Wan saying about how we should more self-aware and appreciative so that Singapore can be a more gracious society.

  2. Yes, I agree to a large extent that the findings are reflective of Singaporeans. I feel that one of the reasons is because we are in a very modernized society where everything has already been made significantly less troublesome a task, as a result people tend to take for granted little gracious acts and also be unaware of our surroundings due to the number of distractions we have else where like looking at our handphones or listening to our mp3. However I also do agree that as the years go by, Singaporeans are now more gracious in helping foreigners or even moving into the bus to prevent blocking the way. Hence I feel that any random acts from strangers that benefits and helps us in anyway should not be taken for granted and it is up to the responsibility of the people to realize when people are actually going the extra mile to help us and be appreciative of the fact.

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