Ten Steps to Graciousness

Modern man looks for a gracious neighbor.


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In days of yore man thought of and looked for a gracious God. Modern man looks for a gracious neighbor.

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Being gracious is an art that must be practiced and worked at constantly. Here are some guidelines:

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1. Do unto others as you would be done by:

Be ready to help others, to accept and appreciate them, and you will receive acceptance and appreciation. Don’t wait for the other person to make the first move. The first giver is the first receiver.

2. Don’t try to change others:

It is useless to try to fit  another person into a mould of your own. Cicero, a Roman philosopher and statesman, said two thousand years ago: “One of the greatest mistakes of man is trying to make others believe and do as he does”.

3. Stop being a split – milk worrier:

Do not let yours as well as others’ mistakes keep spinning around in your head. Mistakes happen everywhere and to everybody. Learn by them and move on. You will be loved and appreciated for this.

Bobbie was inconsolable for accidentally breaking a glass vase. “Never mind, Bobbie”, mother said, “It was an accident”. She picked up the pieces, kissed Bobbie and went back to work.

A few minutes later, Bobbie spoke: “You know what, Daddy”? He was watching his mother with a look of worship in his eyes. “We’re in love with the same woman”.

“Repeatedly harping on small things can truly make them tremendous trifles,  it takes only one small spark to set off a terrible explosion. Little things you do and say can cause a chain reaction that becomes atomic”.

4. Stop nagging:

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It is a delusion to imagine that you can achieve anything by destroying another. Les Giblin in his book The Key to Human Relations writes: “Repeatedly harping on small things can truly make them tremendous trifles,  it takes only one small spark to set off a terrible explosion.

Little things you do and say can cause a chain reaction that becomes atomic”.

5. Discover common interest:

It is a basic rule to get off on the right foot with an associate or boss. Hobbies, books, family or home – town can be topics of pleasant conversation. Keep the lines of communication always open.

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6. Develop a saving sense of humor:

Take time off from yourself.

Staring sternly at the defendant, the judge said: “After breaking all the furniture in the hotel you knocked down the owner and two waiters and broke the arm of two customers. What do you have to say for yourself?”

The accused was sorry indeed. Said he: “Your honour, I acted in a moment of weakness!.

7. Be a listener:

Look directly at the person with whom you are speaking and establish eye – contact (but don’t stare); it is one of the golden rules of good manners. Always show interest in the other person.

Conversation, like many another things, can be a  source of mutual pleasure if seasoned with unselfishness.

“We cannot always oblige, but we can always speak obligingly.”

by Voltaire

8. Watch your tone of voice:

It plays an important part in keeping and winning love. It reveals your attitude, your respect for the rights of others and to their opinion.

Use a tone that is both courteous and respectful, simple and quiet. Polite conversation and discussion are not only stimulating but broadening.

“We cannot always oblige”, said Voltaire, “but we can always speak obligingly”.

9. Encourage, don’t discourage:

A wet blanket is defined as a person or thing that question or dampens enthusiasm, pleasure or the like.

10.Avoid  legalism:

“Legalism is a weak form of love”, wrote Thomas Merton. “It produces dissension, destroys communion and tends by its narrowness and rigidity to create division among men. For legalism refuses to see truth in anyone else’s viewpoint, and, rejecting human values a favour of the abstract letter of a law, it utterly incapable of rising above its own limitation and meeting another on a superior level!”

It is far easier to be a snob, to satisfy oneself with external conformity to manners, rules and customs, instead of living the full life of communication which love intends to promote.

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