Advice giving is becoming a runaway habit in our society. I suspect it is on the rise in direct proportion to the decline of a general code of accepted behaviors that fall into the old-fashioned category of manners and politeness.
Since our local political campaigns are starting to gear up, this might be a timely reminder that when conversations turn to some of the hot and contentious issues facing our community, we can agree to disagree without forfeiting basic kindness.
In our present day reality show, see all, tell all, in your face, loud and abrasive advertising and entertainment driven world, there is no mention of what used to be called social graces.
I remember parental voices that were filled with directives regarding how to behave in public. Say hello to Mr. and Mrs. McConnell. Speak up and don’t mumble. Pick up your feet when you walk and stop shuffling. Wake up and pay attention. Watch what you are doing. Why is your mouth hanging open? Are you trying to catch flies? Look at me when I am talking to you. Sit up straight. No one asked you for your two-cents.
Okay, I agree that strung together, those statements sound extremely harsh and judgmental. However, the positive aspect of getting clear and consistent guidance and direction from parents who felt it was their obligation to raise well-mannered children, is that they forced us to become aware of our environment and that there are other people in it.
Manners and morals seem to be twin shoots from the same root. Clearly defined values and morals allow us to know where we stand and what we stand for. Manners are about making other people reasonably comfortable. Courtesy towards others springs from kind impulses.
A new phenomenon has opened the floodgates of answer persons that call themselves life coaches, intuitives, psychics, spiritual counselors, angel practitioners, consultants, facilitators, workshop leaders and healers to name some of the new categories. All of these careers, vocations or avocations require an interest in contributing to the health and wholeness of others. Done well, they require high-level interpersonal communication skills.
I believe that there needs to be a strong adherence to a code of what I will call “subjective manners.” Sadly, the skill of intuition is often grossly misunderstood and therefore misused. I have too often been confronted with this statement. “I am very intuitive. I can read others really well.”
The truth is that it is very possible to read another but here is an important key. It is more important that you know what is in your head. You can only know another to the degree you know yourself. If you truly know yourself, you would avoid the temptation to cavalierly give out advice because you would have a genuine respect for the innate wisdom that each and every one of us have.
Counseling others in any capacity falls into the category of a service. A mutual agreement must be reached regarding whether someone wants what you are serving up.
A pet peeve of mine is being accosted with unsolicited advice or feedback from someone who has not asked or been given permission to help me. Spare me from anyone who has met me superficially and decides that they know what I should be, do or need to know and they are the self-designated delivery system for my answers.
I guess I am turning into an echo of my parental guides from the past but I am going to say it anyway. If you want to be a problem solver, do it with some manners.
Don’t assume your help is wanted or needed. Increase your listening skills. A clear question is immeasurably more valuable than a quick answer. Ask permission before you volunteer any comments or questions. If you don’t have the skill to suture, don’t cut with aggressive, confrontational remarks. Respect the fact that you can only approximate truly feeling and knowing what another person is experiencing. And most importantly, remember that entrance into another’s soul is always a sacred honor.
Susan is a ‘local’ since 1986 and is the author of “Beyond Intellect: Journey Into the Wisdom of your Intuitive Mind.” Learn more at: susanvelasquez.com.