October 27, 2008 Peter

(Part 5) Love as a Way of Life “Courtesy”

I have been going through the book, “Love as a way of Life” by Gary Chapman, and am writing some of my thoughts on the matter. Thus far, I have covered , , , and . Now for Courtesy.

“Reject ideas, but never reject people” p99

I was discussing not to long ago with a friend why people take politics so personally. So often when someone rejects or calls into questions our beliefs and opinions we interpret that as being rejected. Jay made a comment on the post, “Positive Conflict Resolution for Couples” saying that the best way to treat your spouse is to be the friend of your spouse. How true that is. How often are we giving and patient with our friends but hostile and impatient with those with whom we are committed? To be courteous means that we are taking time out for the person. This could be waiting a little longer opening the door for someone when her hands are to full to open the door herself. Being courteous means that we make mistakes and I understand that not everyone is going to be correct or even make the best life decisions.

If you are going to talk about love in any form it must ALWAYS include focusing on the other person first. Even Gary Spence, author of the book, “How to Argue and Win Every Time” strongly suggested that the best way to win an argument with your wife is to give her everything that she wants because it will give you an untold amount of your ROI. Let me make this clear, Love is more than manipulating a situation to give you what you want but of entering your “loves” world. Let me give you an example. Personality and communication tests are good to take and learn about yourself. However, the purpose of those tests is to better understand how you think and interpret the world around you and not a communication style that you force on others or an excuse to speak as your “personality” dictates.

Communication is about putting the other person’s personality and communication style first so that they will understand what you are saying. To do anything less is selfish and inconsiderate. When you approach someone with courtesy you are telling them that you are putting their needs first and that they are valuable. Far too often we choose to react inappropriately because it is easier to lessen someone’s value for the sake of justifying our hurt or our overactive emotions. What would we think if we were in a hurry to get somewhere and the elder lady in the car in front of you is driving way too slow with no passing lane for you to use?  Most of us would get quite upset and devalue the driver with our words. How would this be different if it were our grandmother who is fighting to keep her driver’s license because she is scared she would loose all her sense of dignity if the state were to take her license? Two different and conscience reactions, huh?

“Every man has his secret sorrows, which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

You never know. You may never know what someone is going through or why they are acting the way that they are so seek out time to first listen to understand rather than judge in order to make an excuse for your laziness.

Here are a few of Gary’s suggestions on Courtesy:

  • Never speak for someone else
  • Listen to each other empathetically
  • Ask for what you want rather than silent expectation
  • When you have a conflict, focus on finding a solution rather than on winning.
  • Make requests, not demands
  • Once a failure has been confessed and forgiven, never bring it up again

What are your thoughts on being courteous? Was there anything that I left out?

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