Last week I wrote about practicing the art of graciously receiving compliments. And again yesterday I brought up the subject of manners (or, rather, another blogger brought it up). And so today I thought I would continue the theme by mentioning a pearl of wisdom that I was recently taught.
The wisdom is this: “place yourself in a position to receive niceties, and you will find them.” What niceties am I referring to, you ask? Well, let me tell you. They’re the little things, like when a stranger picks up something you’ve dropped, or if someone offers to hold the door open for you when you have your arms full. You know--the little polite gestures that help make the day go smoother and restores our confidence in humanity. Now, what do I mean by “placing yourself in a position to receive them”? To be truthful, it is a tad difficult to explain, but let me try by illustrating my point with a story:
When I was younger I had the privilege of being accepted into an academic fellowship in Washington D.C. Now there was this young man who was also in the fellowship, and he had this habit that I thought was sooo annoying. His habit was this: when we would walk together in a group, he would intentionally walk between us ladies and the street. It used to drive me crazy. His reasons were obvious--he was trying to be a gentleman. If a car were to slosh mud up onto the sidewalk, he was willing to be the one who bore the brunt of the sludge. Or if a car door swung open unexpectedly, he wanted to be hit rather than us. It was a kind gesture. It also got under my feminist nerves. I’d walked down tougher streets than downtown DC, I figured, and had handled myself just fine. Why did I need him to protect me from the possibility of unexpected threats? Now, granted, he was a bit over-the-top in his chivalry. Perhaps I would not have even noticed his gestures had he performed them with a little more subtlety. But he was young and I was young and...well...young people make mistakes. My point is that in spite of his overzealous efforts, I could have a) recognized that perhaps it really would benefit me to be shielded from sludge and injury, and b) moved to the inside of the sidewalk to help him out. In other words, I could have put myself in a position that made it easier for him to be polite. And maybe if I started looking for more politeness, practicing it myself and expecting it from others, I might start seeing more of it blossom in my town and in stores and among family.
To close, I'd like to thank my friend, Ramona, for pointing out this little pearl of wisdom. She certainly knows her manners.
What is your favorite act of chivalry? Share by posting your comment here!
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