Life's a balance

Life’s a balance

Recently I came across an interesting article by Rebecca Black, a nationally recognized expert on etiquette.  Now I like to think that I’m up on my manners so I was intrigued when I saw that this article, Five Rules for the Newly Retired Couple was all about etiquette. We “seniors” must know all there is about proper social behavior, right? Sure we do, but her question is, do we practice it in our homes?

A few of the rules the author discusses are about the etiquette of communication. She emphasizes that not only do we have to share our thoughts on a topic, but we need to listen to our mates’ thoughts as well. This, she claims, is the etiquette part that is sometimes forgotten in our discussions at home. When something goes wrong, do we have a tendency to blame the other person? Do we ever think, “I could not have messed up like that––he or she must have done it?” This is where the “hmmm”  comes into play.

What if, before blaming the other person, we asked ourselves, hmmm, I wonder what could have happened? Could I have played any part in that happening? Just by delaying our natural inclination to blame someone else, we begin to focus on a calmer way to approach the issue. You’ll probably find that this opens the door for greater listening and discussion of the issue. It makes both parties feel less threatened.

It’s interesting that one of the first rules of manners we teach children is not to interrupt. Nevertheless, in the process of blaming another, adults typically interrupt and don’t listen to what the other person has to say. I guess there’s a great deal of truth to the statement I learned everything I need to know in kindergarten!

“Think what a better world it would be if we all-the whole world-had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are-when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.” 

Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

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