Image courtesy of danr at freedigitalphotos.net Texting when with someone can send a message they are of secondary importance
Subtle differences in the way that we say things to people can make a difference. For example, my neighbours and I have started a communal vegetable patch. Well – it’s a state of cow manure and grass at the moment, but that’s what we are planning it will become!
We were discussing how a few little words can make a difference to how people perceive our statements. For example, “Could you water the garden?” even with a please may put pressure on somebody. However, “I was wondering if you would have time to water the garden today?” allows the person to say if they actually had one of those extremely busy days to say no, without feeling guilty.
Instead of “join me for a cup of tea” you could say “would you like to join me for a cup of tea”?
It is indeed polite and there is nothing wrong with saying “No, thank you” to someone who offers to do something for you. However, if you add “I appreciate that you asked me though” – they can fully realise their thoughtfulness has been noted. They feel that much better.
Saying something with a smile and a “You’re welcome” can make all the difference – we probably all realise that from interactions with shop assistants.
Other aspects of body language can also make differences to how we feel about someone. When we are talking with someone, if we face them, lean forward, nod to indicate we are listening and reflect back to them what they tell us can all indicate interest and a genuine liking for the other.
On the other hand, if someone is turned away from us, makes little eye contact and interrupts us indicate non-interest. I particularly have a pet hate – when people are talking in a group of three, and one person is not included. I think that when there are more than two people conversing, a group circle formation can make everyone feel a part of the conversation. If three people are sitting in a row, I also feel it when someone puts up a hand and turns their body from me. It’s like saying “I do not value what you are saying.”
Another habit people have, particularly today, is the use of mobile phones, especially texting while having a conversation. It’s like they are giving the message that you are of secondary importance. I think if we have time to talk to someone, perhaps it is good manners to turn off your phone for a while, unless, of course, you are expecting an urgent call.
I have been guilty of all these slips in non-courteous communication. However, I hope to be more aware, and that’s the first step for any of us!