Graciousness is doing the right thing under pressure – when you are most challenged to act without grace. It is the embodiment of Grace.
From my perspective it is showing character and compassion when you are being attacked or threatened, rising above or transcending the conflict and acting from a centered, compassionate place.
Graciousness is a behavior that accompanies mindfulness.
I am using the term grace to refer to one’s beneficence, goodwill, kindness, and compassion. Using mindfulness to analyze a situation, being mindful, results in gracious behavior.
This requires a change in consciousness. It is a transcendent way of being in the world. It requires moving out of a dualistic style of being in the world.
One has to move out of the dualistic of right/wrong, victim/persecutor perspective and into a transcendent consciousness of compassion and mindfulness. Taking action to promote peace and grace rather than proving you are right or punishing another for their mistakes, shortcomings, or perspective.
True dialogue can only occur when people are interacting from this perspective. Dialogue is a negotiation and discussion where there is a give-and-take through an attempt to understand each other.
In my work providing business consultation and as a mediator, I use a book by Steven Covey called The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. In it he prescribes a specific style of interaction for real negotiation to take place. Each party must take the position to Seek First to Understand.
What this means is that one must use a mindful approach to understanding. Not a litigator or debater approach wherein you are looking for the flaws in the position, but rather a mindful approach where you are attempting FIRST to understand whence the person is coming and then offering your own perspective. Clarifying the position of the other fully before identifying what your own position is.
This action then allows for a paradigm shift – through mindfulness – so that a true negotiation and dialogue can follow, where each is attempting to resolve the situation or conflict to meet the needs of BOTH people, which he calls win-win. Seeking to First understand leads to mindfulness, paradigm shifting and graciousness in behavior.
Often with conflicts in relationship both parties are right from their respective perspectives.
The conflict results as they are each looking at the situation in a limited, singular fashion, from only their own perspective, unable to communicate because they cannot hear or see each other’s distinct perspective. Sometimes resulting in a digging in of their heels, each requiring the other to acquiesce to their position, and a stalemate ensues. The conflict becomes solidified as each marshals forces to prove the rightness of their own position rather than moving to understand the position of the other.
This is problematic in relationship or dialogue where an understanding is sought rather than a winner or victor. It would be easier to get to the middle way if both parties could see the other’s point of view but that is veiled by the emotion of proving the rightness of a perspective, a dualistic tendency.
This is most obvious when two religious or political perspectives are the focus of the negotiation but I see this in families, partners, business colleagues, and parents and children. In these later groups it would seem obvious that a conflict could be avoided by simply acknowledging or remembering that the other would not be trying to or intending hurt, but trust is a core issue in many relationships so that people jump first to protect, defend, and into conflict rather than to understand.
Stress magnifies this reactive behavior and increases the difficulties in focusing mindfully and acting with proactive, compassionate behavior.
Graciousness as a behavior is to rise above or transcend that push or pull to conflict and be mindful, compassionate, and understanding.
Waiting to speak, seeking to understand, breathing, meditating, and praying all allow for the space and time for graciousness to be the chosen action in conflict. Being right in relationship is often less important and less instructive than understanding or connecting.
Focus on connection and understanding. I have found that graciousness is healing and instructive, especially under stress, in relationship and team-building.
May you be overcome with mindful, gracious behavior in all your interactions.
See you tomorrow.