I started this series for my three children. There are ideas here that I want them to know. One thing is true: the little things really are the big things. These things, more honored in the breach, are big things.
- Be Respectful of Others: Be respectful of other people. Don’t do anything that suggests to other people that you do not believe they are important, regardless of their station or position in life, and regardless of who they are.
- Listen Without Interrupting: Don’t speak while another person is speaking. Wait until they finish speaking before you speak, regardless of how long they speak. While listening, give the person your full and undivided attention.
- Give Sincere Compliments When Deserved: When someone deserves a compliment, give it. When they have accomplished something remarkable, congratulate them. Do not fake sincerity by complimenting someone as a way to gain something from them.
- Express Your Gratitude: Say “thank you” for any kindnesses great or small. When a great kindness is given, send a thoughtful, written expression of gratitude. When possible, return the kindness in kind.
- Avoid Criticism: Don’t criticize or mock others, even those with whom you disagree. Instead, say nothing. Don’t speak poorly of people not present. By doing so, you are signaling your character to those who are listening, and also what to expect from you when they are absent.
- Assume Good Intentions: When you don’t understand why someone is doing something that you believe to be incorrect or harmful, believe first that they are acting out of good intentions. First, it is likely that they are. Second, by assuming good intentions, you can deal with the action instead of the individual.
- Take Thoughtful Actions: Take thoughtful actions when possible. If you are thinking of another, send them a note. If you see something that you know they would enjoy, send it to them. Offer small kindnesses wherever and wherever possible.
- Put Down Your Phone: When you are in the company of others, put down your phone. Don’t allow distractions to become more important than the person or people with whom you are visiting.
These things speak to your character. They say more about you than your accomplishments.