So what do Kermit, from Sesame Street Not Easy Being Green, Elphaba from Wicked and a 4 leaf clover have in common? They are all green? Yes, but even more than that they all find amazingness in their greenness. Kermit because of all the pretty things that are green like him, Elphaba… she found her inner voice from being different and a 4 leaf clover…well that’s just pure luck. Embracing our differences and accepting the differences of others is a mannerly and civil act of kindness.
So I am going to offer some helpful hints on how to improve your civility and mindfulness…
1. Don’t stare – it is human nature to gaze at objects that amaze and intrigue, but to a person who is different or has a disability, this subconscious gawking could be construed as judgment. MDA on how to treat people with disabilities
2. Find a common ground that puts everyone at ease. In most cases people can sense when others are uncomfortable, so be the first to say hello and take the lead with an open ended question discussing your physical surroundings or a positive current event in your area. Small talk, Positive results
3. The paramount rule of Jeffersonian Debate: Grant your opponent respect. Not to say that because the fact that I am different from you, means we are opponents, but if you don’t take another’s differences with grace and humility, it could create an adversarial situation. Learn objectivity.
4. Recognize that phrasing is everything. Bluntness can be plain rude, not charmingly honest. It is amazing how many people will say the rudest things to you without even thinking. When they feel awkward they just have to blurt something out, unfortunately their mind is not as fast as their mouth.
5. Be conscious of your body language. As we teach in our sessions and have discussed before, body language is an insight for others into what you might be thinking or feeling. Everything from your posture to how you carry yourself to the way you’re angling your body. Often, simply being aware of your body language can result in immediate improvements in seemingly awkward situations. Subconscious cues to keep in mind include strong eye contact, proximity to others, the way you address the person and your smile.
6. SMILE… Putting a smile out there will get you one in return! Many wise people trusted in that…Andrew Carnegie, Eleanor Roosevelt, Nat King Cole… They believed that smiling breaks down barriers and is an invitation, a sign of welcome. It says, “I’m friendly and approachable.”
Whether going to a job function, networking event or to the park with friends, understanding the importance of mindful communication to folks who are different from you, might just bring you good luck!
Tell us what you learned by walking outside of your comfort zone when communicating with someone different from yourself.
Lisa and Demetria
Co-founders Mother, May I