By Michele Howe
“Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
We’ve all heard someone curtly reply, “I won’t even dignify that comment with an answer.” Haven’t we? After all, when we feel we’ve been misjudged, maligned, or insulted, it’s only natural to offer this type of retort. But is it effective? Does it promote understanding, reconciliation? Does taking a verbal jab at someone ever make sense?
Consider this, each time a person speaks or refuses to, it’s a chancy venture. Depending upon our mood, our health, and our current emotional state, the person speaking to us is taking a risk. He doesn’t know what we’ve just faced down in the previous twenty-four hours. He has no clue how the pressures and frustrations of the day have weighed heavy on our minds. Add to that volatile mix the speaker’s own state of mind and the combination can quickly grow lethal.
Whether in the workplace or in the home, every person internalizes life’s demands, stresses, and expectations and finds plausible methods of handling them. Sadly, no one can always see with accuracy what another is struggling over. Given the fact that we all have to communicate to understand one another, opting out of verbal exchanges isn’t an alternative. So rather than give in to preying hesitancies or conversely brutal frontal assaults, let’s reset our mindsets a bit.
How much more pleasant life would look and feel if those around us offered basic consideration. As every individual hopes for a little kindness to come his way each day, why not make the concerted effort to demonstrate a spirit of generous courtesy? There’s no law that says we must mirror another’s bad behavior. We don’t have to play verbal chess games trying to outwit our opponent. It isn’t always; “us against them”…often times a cranky person is just plain worn out.
There’s a better way and it’s right in front of our faces. It’s called offering dignity…you know, that inner willingness to extend someone the forgiveness, care, and respect they’re not deserving of at the present moment. The bottom line is this; when we choose to treat another person with dignity, it only enhances our own. Likewise, when we choose to denigrate another’s worth, we only lessen our own.
What Dignity Looks Like
D – Do set the tone for a conversation by expressing appreciation and thanks from the outset.
I – Invite positive feedback by pairing considerate verbal cues with friendly non-verbal ones.
G – Graciously ask for assistance, advice, or cooperation.
N – Never discuss hot topics if your emotional temperature is rising fast; wait until tempers cool.
I – Initiate an atmosphere of open exchange by listening intently and without interrupting.
T – Take the required time to talk, don’t rush through a litany of requests.
Y – Yield the day if need be and brainstorm new ways to speak and be heard on another day.
– Michele Howe is the author of twelve books for women and has published over 1600 articles, reviews, and curriculum to more than 100 different publications. Her articles and reviews have been published in Good Housekeeping, First For Women, Single Parent Family, Christian Single, and many other publications. Michele’s newest release is One Size Fits All: Making Healthy Choices, Stepping Into a Meaningful Life, a women’s health/inspirational devotional by Lighthouse of the Carolinas to be released late 2012 and Faith, Friends, and Other Floatation Devices will be published in 2013 by ACTA Publications. Contact Michele at: [email protected].