Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Attitudes and Manners: Discussion 7 — Attitudes Make the Difference

Attitudes and Manners: Discussion 7 — Attitudes Make the Difference

By: Ardis E. Parshall - July 05, 2011

Discussion 7 – Attitudes Make the Difference

For Tuesday, April 10, 1962

Objective: To show that good manners spring from good thoughts and that a woman is most charming when she is being thoughtful.

People too often think of proper behavior and good manners only in terms of which fork to use when eating a salad. Actually, there are roles a woman of today is required to play for which there are not definite prescribed lines to say, or a list of rules of precisely what to do and when. These are the subtle requirements of being socially correct, aware and sensitive to situations. How we respond to these situations springs from our attitude about people and our basic relationship with them. Our response usually determines whether or not we can be described as charming.

In Glamour magazine, November 1960, these cautionary words were given on charm:

If you are sure you have it, you don’t. If you hoard it, you lose it. If you buy with it, you spend false coin. If you give it away, it bounces back. (Reprinted by permission from Glamour, November 1960, Copyright 1960 by the Conde Nast Publications, Inc.)

Elements of Charm

The ideal attitude which should underlie all of our womanly behavior should express kindness, refinement, gentleness, self-respect, sympathy (though not necessarily pity), and a certain amount of deference to one’s husband, an older woman, or to a dignitary. Cultivated, these qualities can enhance our relationship with others in a most positive manner.

Negativism, over-zealousness, criticism of others, including Church officers, organizations, and procedures, are practices which can easily slip into our way of behavior, unless we constantly guard against them. They can prove to be destructive to our personal relationships with others and rob us of serenity.

We should try conscientiously never to hurt anyone’s feelings. If we discover we have committed this error, we should pray for strength, guidance, and help in making it right again with the injured person. The weakness of taking offense easily is as unjust as giving offense. One should pray just as diligently for a forgiving and understanding heart, if one has allowed her own feelings to be hurt. It is difficult sometimes to do this, but, nevertheless, it is important in mastering inner maturity and good will. It is unwise to harbor grudges, nurse hurt feelings, or foster unhappiness by clinging to injuries of the soul.

Some examples of thoughtfulness which are charming and which spring from good thoughts (but are not listed rules in a book of etiquette) include:

1. Sending congratulatory messages to the bishop on his birthday, or to a friend on her big day of achievement (chairman of a program, winning an honor, the arrival of a new baby, being the wife of a new bishop, stake president or branch president, etc.)

2. When advisable, it is thoughtful to make brief hospital calls and take some little gift, a few flowers, or send a cheery note or card.

3. It is thoughtful for the patient to send a small gift or a special card to a nurse who has been particularly attentive during one’s illness.

4. It is an appealing mark of deference to bow ever so slightly when introduced to an important authority or to an older woman, also, when one sees an acquaintance across the room (rather than waving).

It is refreshing to see a woman notice another child, admiring the baby (without touching it!), or speak to teens on the street (inspiring a gracious reply from them).

The following are familiar phrases guaranteed the most unlikely to please:

“When I was the work meeting leader …”

“Did you hear what someone told me about Mary?”

“That wasn’t the way I heard it. You have it all wrong.”

“How much did it cost?”

“My doctor says that’s the worst thing you could do!”

“Your child is a hard one to discipline, isn’t he?”

“Another meeting?”

“Well, I can’t come to any of the practices, but I guess I could sing with you on the program.”

“Yes, this is a nice centerpiece, but you should see my tulips this year.”

“Don’t expect me to work on a committee with her.”

“Can’t you possibly get someone else to do it?”

“Oh, this recipe is a failure today. I never can do it when I have to bring it over to the chapel.”

Facing Attitudes

It is well to face our attitudes, for they face us! Our attitudes and appreciations, our thoughts and the actions that spring therefrom, our sensitivities and our responses line our faces, just as surely as a pen marks a paper.

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts, therefore guard accordingly; and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature (Marcus Antonius, from The New Dictionary of Thoughts).

Questions for Discussion

Using the above “phrases most unlikely to please” as a basis, restate them in words of charm and thoughtfulness. How do YOU do?


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