Since my first post when I spoke about Hospitality, and then again when I wrote about Integrity, Authenticity and Being Responsible for your Communication, I’ve been thinking a lot about Grace and Tact. How important they are in society and how the benefits are lost in today’s premise of being “real.”
The first of Don Miguel Ruiz’ Four Agreements (If you haven’t read his book yet, I highly recommend you add it to your reading list now!) is to “Be Impeccable with your Word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.”
There’s a lot to work with in there. I remember being immediately triggered by (and attracted to) the word ‘Impeccable’ when I first read the agreements. I’ve always taken pride in saying what I meant and meaning what I said. Avoiding speaking ill of myself or gossiping about others is still a choice I make each time I open my mouth. But it’s this last part of this agreement that stands out as the main principle and it reminds me of the Buddhist message of Ahimsa, meaning ‘not to injure’ and ‘compassion’. Essentially, we’re speaking about Grace.
I was recently the victim of irresponsible truth telling. While I sorted my feelings about the story this person told me, I also thought about her decision to speak up. I wasn’t as upset about what she told me (since it was essentially accurate) but that she told me. She felt vindicated in her decision, but I was left in an upset because she lacked grace and tact.
The point is to be in service of the people we’re in communication with. Sure, you can say something because (you believe) it’s true. But is it going to help? I’ve found the line challenging myself at times, and can remember being warned against giving unsolicited coaching. If someone isn’t asking for your contribution, cool it. Just listen. Sometimes people are not ready for, or interested in hearing what you have to say.
The principle of ahimsa states do no harm, but I’d rather ask will it help? If I say what’s on my mind, how is it likely to be received? Sometimes, it is better to hold your tongue. Sometimes Authenticity should be checked by Compassion. Remember Mom’s advice of not saying anything at all, if you didn’t have anything nice to say?
Daniel Post Senning states that etiquette is a combination of manners and principles. The actions or behaviors of manners vary from culture to culture, but the principles of honesty, respect, consideration are constant. Proper etiquette suggests that you would show consideration for someone’s feelings over the correct actions that manners would suggest.