Tom Chiarella recently wrote an ode to graciousness for Esquire. Any aspiring lady or gentleman would do well to take it to heart:
Do not mistake mere manners for graciousness. Manners are rules. Helpful, yes. But graciousness reflects a state of being; it emanates from your inventory of self. Start with what you already possess. You, for instance, have a job. Live up to that.
And then what? Chiarella holds court on gracious conduct—let's go over a few of his main points.
You can forget the business cards. Don't spend your time hunting out contacts—humans can sense a predator. Instead, Chiarella says be interested in the world around you and the people there. His advice is gorgeous in its simplicity: "Look around. Remember names. Remember where people were born."
When you meet someone, meet them: Give a proper handshakes with these five qualities. Square your shoulders, make eye contact, use a proper grip, leave your elbow at a right angle, and smile.
Present yourself with more than your clothes. Remember to stand when someone enters or leaves the room; when they do, you look them in the eye. You're mindful of any introductions that need to be made. If there are any, you make them warmly.
And truly hold a conversation. The German word for conversation is Unterhaltung, which directly translates as holding-under: a fine image for thoughtful exchange. A conversationalist shows appreciative, career-launching kindness. Chiarella traces the subtleties:
Be attentive to what people say. Respond, without interruption. You always have time. You own the time in which you live. You grant it to others without obligation. That is the gift of being gracious.
What are the rewards for graciousness? There are many. Let us know yours in the comments.
[Image: Flickr user John Bell]