We are making our way through a book study of George Washington’s “Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.” (Applewood Books, 1988). Glad you are here as we learn from our first president the life lessons he thought were essential for success.
A recurrent theme in this book is how to treat people. Rule #81 is “Be not curious to know the affairs of others’ neither approach those that speak in private.” Do you have a “nose for news?” While it is good to be an informed person, it is harmful to be overly curious about what is going on in other people’s lives. Think about all of the other things a person could do with their life besides spreading the latest personal business of others or being upset about what they heard. It’s time-consuming!! Washington prompts us to think about what and how we use our time.
Rule #82 is just as compelling. “Undertake not what you cannot perform, but be careful to keep your promise.” Do you make promises you can’t keep? If so, you’re not alone. Must be an age-old problem dating back centuries. The amazing thing is that George Washington recognized this as a teenager! Perhaps at a young age, he experienced this feeling of being let down, and it made an impression? Just thinking out loud here… We all know people who make promises in all walks of life, but they can’t deliver on what they promise. We feel duped, or “taken.” Maybe, like young Washington, we can resolve to deliver on our own promises. It seems that life has a way of coming back full circle.
Now, what about Rule #88? ‘Be not tedious in discourse, make not many digressions, nor repeat often the same manner of discourse.” In other words, don’t tell the same story over and over. Oh, boy, I’m guilty of this. Why do people do this? For the elderly, their memories, those things hidden and unspoken for years, now feel the freedom to speak. Or, maybe it’s good memories, and we love the story so much, we tell it the same way.
On the other hand, if people feel that they aren’t being heard, they repeat themselves. But about the digression part? Girls, listen up. We can fly through 10 topics in 10 seconds using the digression technique LOL. We’re just trying to get all the girl talk in with the limited time we have, right? LOL I’m resolving to be a better listener, as I need to avoid thinking about the next thing to say and just stay with the topic at hand. How about you? ??