Courteous, kind and pleasant. Pleasantly indulgent especially toward an inferior. These are a few definitions of graciousness, that wholesome virtue that seems to be in very short supply among us. Graciousness is the virtue that counts human dignity to be infinitely more important than the more conspicuous features of talent, status, or reputation, writes Donald DeMarco, an American author and professor, about the cardinal virtue of graciousness.
DeMarco writes that though human beings are equal in dignity, which is a spiritual quality, they are unequal in noticeable qualities such as talent, status, and reputation. These qualities inevitably establish and govern human relationships. Remember the proverb, birds of a feather flock together? This is what happens to us; we are naturally most drawn to those like us. In addition, many of us are also inclined to want to belong to an increasingly exclusive club of ‘special people’.
However, the virtue of graciousness impresses on us to shun this human instinct. The gracious individual never acts as if he were more superior to anyone else, regardless of his title or position in life. Graciousness incorporates forgiveness, kindness and love. It is, by no means, not an easy virtue to practice, because it requires a lot of selflessness, which does not come naturally to most of us. It is also not merely good manners but a state of being.
Graciousness is a quality that can and should be incorporated into every day living, including in business. Tom Chiarella, an editor at Esquire, an American men’s magazine, writes in an article on ‘How to be gracious’ that in business, the little things that we may not think much of, for instance, a favour acknowledged, a favour returned, proper introductions, smiles and attentiveness really matter.
He highlights important aspects of graciousness:
Smile, he writes. If you can’t smile, you can’t be gracious. In addition, if you find that you cannot muster enthusiasm for the people you happen upon in life then you also cannot be gracious. He reminds us that true graciousness demands that you have time for others, listen, be attentive to what people say, and respond, without interruption.
Graciousness generally revolves around our dealings with others, and humility is absolutely necessary if we are to be gracious individuals.
Let us all strive to make that difference in our world, however small, by being gracious with everyone we happen upon.