When I read through the long list of subject ideas, I have to admit that this one jumped out at me, as if to say: “This is important; you need to find out more about it, and, perhaps, find ways to become better at it.” It has been my privilege to research this subject, mostly for selfish reasons, because I know, deep down, that I have shied away from it for much too long, and have been in denial about its importance. Ever since my elementary school days, I have been a teaser and a jokester, hopefully not to the point of being abusive, but certainly not a model of kindness or empathy.
At the outset, I want us to agree on one thing: this is, undeniably, an important area of concern. If you’re not convinced about that, consider the following quote by Elwood P. Dowd (played by Jimmy Stewart) in the 1950 classic film, Harvey: “Years ago my mother used to say to me…. ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be Oh-so-smart or Oh-so-pleasant.’ Well, for years I was smart --- I recommend being pleasant. You may quote me.”
Another reason that, for me, is compelling, is that, after many years of observation, I have come to believe in what is known as the “Law of the Circle”, which, basically goes something like this:
Whatever you send out will come back to you, sometimes magnified, or in greater proportions.
How do we honor feelings, whether they be our own or those of another person? Although it is, by no means, all inclusive, following is a list of suggestions that I have gathered:
- Practice listening
- Show interest in other people
- Look for the good in everything
- When you point a finger at someone, notice the other 3 (on your own hand) pointing back at you
- Don’t sweat the small stuff (Newsflash: it’s all small stuff)
- Show reverence for all of God’s creations
- Don’t let complaints turn into criticisms, i.e., don’t make it personal - separate the sin from the sinner
- Listen to and share good music; avoid music or any other “entertainment” that isn't uplifting
- Avoid profanity, and any other derogatory or belittling language
- Look for anything around you that is worthy of a compliment, and spend that extra time to give it
- Avoid negativity in all its forms
- Try to settle conflicts while they're small, thru understanding and talking it out
- Treat others with respect; give them the benefit of the doubt
- Avoid the urge to be sarcastic or hurtful
- Don’t be defensive; admit mistakes; learn to laugh at yourself
- Be reasonable in the time it takes you to respond to others’ questions, requests, concerns
- Watch what you eat and drink, and get an adequate amount of sleep
Cavett Robert, one of my favorite motivational speakers, quoting Will Rogers, said this: “The Bible says, ‘Love your enemies’, but, just for practice, why not try it out on your friends?”
The key to successful relationships, according to Mr. Robert, is making others feel important. Let’s all give it a try.