Something I am discovering about myself every day -- there is always time to learn how to be more gracious. I feel that I make a conscious effort to “think before I speak,” but like we all are, being human doesn't always have us default to a place of kind consideration, when it would best serve us and the people we interact with. There is a genuine art to the act of being gracious, and it’s a behavior that must be cultivated and expressed often, to see the positive results. Anything worthwhile deserves some mindful practice, and with doing so, graciousness never need to be lost or forgotten in your daily communication.
The dictionary defines gracious as; "being pleasantly kind, benevolent and courteous." So, what does that mean exactly? In our age of immediate gratification, bombarded stimuli and sensory overload, how do we act with “pleasant kindness” or what is “benevolent” any way? The act and art of graciousness is all about how you make the people around you feel. What if you were attending a get together at a new co-worker’s house and you were not introduced to anyone? What if you were left to fend for yourself feeling ignored or left out? This would not be a gracious moment on your friend’s part. Whether intentional or not, when you find yourself in the company of people who are not behaving graciously, it feel funky, out of sorts and leaves you with a sense of being discounted and not valued or appreciated. Find this happening repeatedly with the same individual and you may opt to no longer associate with that person. Graciousness can be very profound on both levels, as the one extending the gracious gesture and as someone receiving it from you. The same is true that should you not choose to extend graciousness to another person, they in turn may find you someone they choose not to continue to engage with - suddenly the calls stop, invitations cease and you wonder what happened - it could be you neglected to be gracious when the opportunity was right there in front of you.
So, what are a few characteristics of graciousness?
1. Being gracious is someone who is humble and desires to praise others.
2. Someone who is gracious would never seek out to embarrass another person deliberately.
3. A gracious individual is quick to say ‘thank you’ for even the smallest gesture.
4. Listening to the other person more than talking about yourself is gracious characteristic.
5. Not “one upping” someone or being spiteful is considered being gracious.
6. A gracious person makes a point of paying attention to others.
7. Consciously being mindful to say what is appropriate is a gracious choice.
8. A gracious person seeks out ways to make others feel comfortable and appreciated.
9. Being gracious means knowing you are not indispensable and respects everyone’s contribution.
10. To be gracious is to recognize the good in everyone and every situation as the first option.
For myself I have found choosing to be more aware of when I have the opportunity to be gracious adds a softness to my personality, a lighter delivery and deeper consideration and connection to the people around me. Often it takes an added dose of patience to be gracious to certain people I know, there are those in our world who demand more attention and come off slightly needy or demanding. It’s in these times that opting for extending graciousness really produces dynamic results; someone who requires a great deal rarely expects to be granted graciousness -- try embracing this character trait with someone who has challenged you in the past, I assure you the communication will be markedly more clean and you’ll discover the neediness decrease -- universally all we want as humans is to be remembered, respected, and appreciated... to be gracious gives you and the other person a delicious gift of uplifting consideration.
The art and act of being gracious is like so many areas in our busy lives; it is about making a conscious choice, and with these choices there are measured consequences. I would like to encourage you to choose to be a gracious person whenever you can; in doing so you will leave everyone you encounter genuinely looking forward to seeing you and hearing whatever it is you have to say and to share. If you feel that there may have been an occasion when you may not have been the most gracious to someone you know recently, this is a perfect opportunity to extend a kind gesture and send a note or card to that individual expressing your sincere gratitude for their input, their help or just to say “glad to know you are my friend.”
It’s never too late to be more gracious, and the feeling you personally get from reaching out and offering your gratitude is so wonderful for the person on the receiving end, and most definitely for you.