Most etiquette articles focus on the things you should be doing for others but this one is about the flip side – what you should be receiving from others. Somehow throughout the last century it has become a prevailing idea that a person displays weakness when they accept kind gestures from someone else. This “I can do it myself” and “I don’t need help from anyone” mentality has weakened society rather than strengthened its members. It causes us to care more about ourselves and about how other people are treating us, rather than thinking about how we are treating other people. But when we allow someone to give of themselves, not only do we gain from it but they do as well.
The power a person gets from allowing civil acts is tremendous. Here’s a top five list of “superhero powers” gained from accepting and encouraging common (and uncommon) courtesies:
- Heart warmer
Accepting kind gestures brings pleasure to the giver. After helping you with that heavy box, they walk away feeling better about themselves and will likely repeat the gesture with someone else, perpetuating a happy positive cycle. If instead you pulled away with a cold “I can handle it myself” they could walk away feeling awkward and rejected and unlikely to want to do it again.
- Confidence builder
It may have taking a lot for someone to verbalize that compliment to you and to accept it graciously only pours sunshine to bloom the person’s confidence. This confidence will give them courage to do other things that they may not have done otherwise – like try out for the swim team or go for dream job.
- Friend magnet
People like being around nice people. Simple as that. Increase your appreciation for kind gestures and people will increase in their estimation of you. ‘Nuf said.
- Niceness Mirror
When you are nice to someone else, they are nice back to you. People generally reflect the behaviour given to them. So when the customer service agent is asking you kindly to repeat your complaint (even if it is the fifth time you’ve related it), do so politely and accept their help. The experience will be more pleasant for the both of you and will likely mean the agent is nicer to the next person. Who wouldn’t want the power to make other people kinder?
- Chaos calmer
In a chaotic world often on the verge of civil unrest, manners can put disorder into order and calm a volatile situation. By showing respect to another by politely accepting their apology (even if given half-hearted) you’re snubbing an ember that may have been ready to reignite. By recognizing the courtesies of others, even when only negative behaviours are being highlighted, you can encourage others to see it too, and even reciprocate. Good manners today contribute more to the energy in air then we realise.
So go forth and conquer, dear friends, with the power of manners. Accept those kind gestures and watch how your actions influence others for good and spreads positivity. But remember, if you receive you too must give. Continue the cycle of courtesy, kindness, love and respect.
Laura Cotton is a wife, mother of two, stepmother of three, and a licensed etiquette trainer with Emily Post Institute. With more than 15 years of experience, her passion is to help people gain confidence with her Pearl Strategies image development workshops. She may be contacted at 757-1017 or firstname.lastname@example.org.