Like a Queen – but not me, not this Queen. I’m only writing about the 5 steps because I need to take them myself. I can be the most un-gracious queen or queen-named person EVER at times. So that’s why I made it my business to figure out how to change all that.
Gracious: pleasantly kind, benevolent, and courteous; characterized by good taste, comfort, ease
According to expert Arthur Dobrin D.S.W. in his Psychology Today article, “Gracious people are kind and their behavior is characterized by tact. Graciousness may be superficial, but sometimes what is on the surface is good enough.”
I want to be gracious. I should be gracious. Or at least more gracious. But is it possible? I say YES! I looked into it and here are FIVE EASY STEPS that I found to help. It’s helping me (even Myren, my chauffeur and chief proponent of this research and behavioral change experiment, is surprised at the mild improvement). It works best in limited time frame social situations–like when you’re out among the subjects–er, I mean people, at a particular social event. Like a wedding or a book signing.
Five Steps to Being Gracious:
- Prepare: By this, I mean mental preparation. Tell yourself, repeatedly and often, that you intend to be gracious, before you step into the room. Look in the mirror when you tell yourself this. Adopting the attitude takes time. Let it seep in.
- Smile: And mean it. Look in the mirror when you smile. Your job as the gracious one is to make other people comfortable. You want everyone in the room to feel at ease and happy. Look happy. Make them feel it.
- Prepare: By this, I mean have some lines ready. If you’re like me, you’re not necessarily quick with a pithy reply–or at least not one that is gracious or even somewhat nice. (Sometimes you/I may even be sarcastic or snarky.) So if you have a few NICE lines ready for an unexpected awkward moment, you’ll be ready. For example: Someone asks how you like their new dress/hairdo/furniture/etc. You aren’t enthusiastic/you think it’s hideous, but before you let the awkward moment take over and communicate your thoughts before a word comes out of your mouth, you need to jump in with a ready answer. You say, for instance, “Very interesting/different/provoking/trendy/stylish.” Better yet, give them a compliment on something else. If a woman asks about her hair style you say, “I love the color of your hair it’s so flattering, it makes your eyes look gorgeous” and don’t stop, keep going until she’s forgotten that she asked you about something else.
- Listen. Do not jump in with a word about yourself or your opinion. Not until/unless you are asked. This takes a tremendous amount of willpower and concentration for me. I literally need to bite my tongue. And then I need to pretend I’m not in pain as the speakers drones on–er, I mean continues unabated. Nod, smile and ask interested sounding questions if you must speak. If asked, say something funny. Do not be serious (unless there’s a death or something horrible).
- Do NOT say one single negative word. About anything or anyone to anyone. This includes disagreeing with anyone on matters of politics or religion if the subjects arise. You don’t need to agree with others, but you should say that you understand/acknowledge their view/point. Of course you have opinions, but no one needs to know about them. Not here, not now. This is another of those VERY difficult to accomplish practices for me to adhere to. But if we’re not attending a political rally or a debate, we can save our (my sometimes too strong) opinions.
Now you’re saying to yourself, “Gee, SQ, this sounds like we’ll have the most boring time ever at this event.” But that doesn’t necessarily need to be the case. You can be witty. You can compliment people. You can tell intriguing stories when called on to speak about yourself. Prepare yourself by thinking this stuff up ahead of time (see above).
It all starts with attitude and intention. And practice. The more people you don’t know, the more gracious you need to be. The more familiar you are with people, the more automatic it should be–but it’s easy to let your guard down with familiar people. That’s when you should practice.
Of course, this is all for social settings. When you’re at home with your familiars, you can let your hair down (although Myren, my chauffeur wishes I wouldn’t). That’s when the crown comes off and you can share your opinions. But remember, even with our closest friends and family, it never hurts to be gracious, to always want to make them feel comfortable and good.
Here’s to adopting the Gracious Attitude.
About USA Today Bestselling Author Stephanie Queen
A romantic at heart and a writer by nature, Stephanie Queen has the enthusiastic soul of a cheerleader. So of course she loves creating stories where the good guys always win. Although she’s lost count of all the jobs she had before she settled on being a Novelist, her favorite was selling cookies as a Keebler Elf. She is a graduate of UConn (go Huskies!) and Harvard U and lives in New Hampshire with her family, her cat, Kitty, and her (real or imagined?) chauffeur, Myren.