I recently heard a friend use the words, “Grace and Gentility” as her approach to dealing with difficult people. She said, “No matter what they say or do, I try to respond always with grace and gentility. It avoids fights and I keep my strength and balance.”
The word “gentility” originates from an Old French word "gentil," meaning, "high-born, noble, of good family," and often was attached to a person’s gender: Gentleman, or Gentlewoman. It speaks to the way a person responds, as if of nobility, but does not require a title or a crown. It is more than just presentation; it is more than how people see you. It’s how you see yourself and who you believe you are.
You know when you are in the presence of a person who has grace and gentility. The room is calm and the atmosphere is peaceful. There is a sense of security, although you cannot put your finger on the reason for feeling so safe. There is order and things just seem to fall into place, as they should. As you expect them to. There are no surprises. A slight smile is held on your face, and in your heart. There is no tension, no pain, and no fear. There is no cause to wonder about the thoughts of your host, because they are open and transparent with everything they say and do. There is no guesswork, no labor of thought, and no anxiety. You just are. You feel seen. You feel heard. You feel appreciated and they express their joy at being with you. You feel valued.
Now, contrast that experience with the life you live. Do you wake and rush through your morning missing opportunities to bring calm to your family? Does you mind race through your to-do-list of responsibilities, feeling like you can’t get it all done, and then you find you’re late picking up the children from school? Do you rush home and push them aside to continue your work to prepare the evening meal? Or should you pick up fast food (or have it delivered), and rush through your meal only to collapse on the couch to veg in front of the TV to watch some mindless stupidity that you don’t even find funny or entertaining? Are your children learning from your example that this is their fate as they reach adulthood?
In the old days, it was expected that conversation would take place over tea. Europeans valued this time and the effort that went into this daily routine so much that it was named, “High Tea.” Even Mrs. Potts (Beauty and the Beast) knew the importance of a hot cup of tea and how it can bring calm to an otherwise chaotic situation.
Take a moment to stop the mad insane rush.
Grab your grandmother’s china, pour a cup of hot tea (a must), and sit. Before you start, take a deep breath and exhale slowly, releasing the tension in your back. Take a sip. Embrace the warmth of the liquid as it slides down your throat. Let the sensation bring a moment of peace, calm, and gentility into your life.