In that conversation, we discussed people in our lives who seem to have the gift of grace, and how that is always evident in how they react to virtually any given situation. I confessed that, as much as I envy the virtue in that initial response to any given situation, it is rarely my first posture. I’m a reactionary person (Thanks, Irish heritage!), and I tend to consider things less than I should before responding.
With age is coming wisdom, and I am learning new ways of reacting to situations and new ways of processing information before rendering judgment. All that said, I thought I would share with you some of the mechanisms I have adopted to at least *try* to put my best foot forward at every turn:
- No matter how quick your wit, SLOW DOWN. Firing off that quick email response or even a live verbal response is not always the most prudent action. Keep yourself in check. When you feel that fire brewing (or even that righteous indignation of justice), slow everything down. Take deep breaths and count yourself down off that ledge. There is nothing so critical that it can’t wait a few extra moments (or even minutes, hours, or days) for you to best consider the most appropriate response. In other words, the lesson that I have learned over many years is to shut my mouth until the right words emerge. It comes from scores and scores of apologies for issuance of wrong ones.
- CONSIDER THE FEELINGS OF OTHERS before responding or criticizing. Along the lines of “What would you say if they were in the room,” it’s wise to consider how your words are most likely to be received before firing off. How is what I’m about to say going to affect the person on the receiving end of them? A good friend of mine told me “I was raised not to hurt peoples’ feelings.” What a great thing to take away from your childhood, and what a great thing to remember as we go through our lives. We don’t have to hurt each others’ feelings in order to convey our thoughts and beliefs.
- EMPLOY EMPATHY before destroying someone else’s idea. “Walk a mile in their shoes,” is how I believe the saying goes. If I come to you with an idea or belief, and I am excited to share that with you, your quick dismissal of my enthusiasm is going to do wonders toward building up our relationship and potential collaborative benefits…. NOT! Let’s hear each other out and consider all potential outcomes before deciding.
- CONSIDER HOW YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED. Ultimately, we paint a picture of ourselves for others with whatever choices we make. The question then becomes, “How do I want people to remember me?” Do you want people to see you as a “Ready, Shoot, Aim!” kind of person, or would you rather that people saw you as an empath who considered their input and their worth? Only you can answer that one.
All said, I’m a huge advocate for honest feedback, and I don’t believe you should lie. I do, however, believe that with practice we can all better consider how we react to others and find that grace that lives in each of us. That grace is what builds relationships and allows us to see things more clearly from our own perspective and the perspectives of others.
Let’s find that grace together. Tomorrow Begins Today.