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How well do you relate with people?

 How well do you relate with people? (Photo: iStock)

American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson says, “Manners are the happy ways of doing things; each one a stroke of genius or of love, now repeated and hardened in usage. They form at last a rich varnish, with which the routine of life is washed and its details adorned.”

Courteous people are happy people. Rude people are always unhappy, angry and miserable; and walk around with a chip on their shoulders. “The merciful man does good for his own soul, but he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.” (Proverbs 11:17). How do you give and get respect?

First, when you speak to people, be tactful and truthful. Let your speech be always with grace and seasoned with salt. Rudeness is manifested by spoken words. It is a joy to find just the right word in the right occasion.

You need to have tact - thinking before you speak. This is the secret and lubricant of effective relationships - it minimises friction between people. Tact is speaking the truth in love. “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4).

Second, when people serve you, you should be understanding and not demanding. One of the greatest tests of Christian character is how you treat people who serve you: waiters/waitresses, secretaries, personal assistants, cleaners, house help or employees. You should be considerate of their feelings. Third, when you disagree with people, be gentle and not judgmental. As a Christian, there are many things of this world that you will disagree with or even with other Christians - on lifestyles, behaviour, beliefs, doctrines, and so forth.

But in doing this, be gentle. “Each one of us shall give an account of himself before God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this; not to put a stumbling block or cause to fall in our brother’s way” (Romans 12-13).

Fourth, when you share your faith with people show respect. English Bible Scholar J.B. Phillips says, “Be tactful with those who are not Christians, talk to them agreeably with the flavour of wit. It is amazing how some Christians can take the most positive message in the world; the good news and turn it into a negative message. Christians can be rude to fellow believers, a dying world and even to God the Father.”

The media is full of stories of people who are just rude. Rudeness is on the rise physically and verbally: there is a driver who was told by a traffic policeman that there is a diversion ahead to turn left and he was so annoyed he shot him.

A man was told to wait in a restaurant as they arranged for a table for him and his partner but instead, he hurled insults to the manager. It seems that common sense is not so common any more.

Examples of rudeness: A person who comes from the opposite direction and takes a parking spot that you had been patiently waiting for. When people walk out of church in the middle of a special song and disturb everyone. When marketers and salespersons litter your doorway with promotion materials or leaflets. Children who cry and cause tantrums in church and the parents do not seem bothered. When a smoker blows out smoke right on your face. Neighbours playing loud music late into the night. Hooting in traffic snarl up.

Love does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked and thinks no evil. Love has good manners. Rudeness is a lack of respect for others; it reveals that I care less about others; and that I am only thinking about myself. Rudeness equals selfishness.

Rudeness is manifested when we act without the thought of other peoples’ feelings; by acting carelessly without thinking of the effects of our actions. When people act gracelessly, it implies that they do not acknowledge that they have been forgiven by Jesus Christ. We need to show proper respect to everyone.

We need to treat everyone with respect because: First, God made us all and we are the crown of his creation. “For you have made him a little lower than the angels, and you have crowned him with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:5). Second, Jesus died for each one of us. The cross shows how valuable we all are to God.

Third, it shows that you know and love God - you have a relationship with him and people. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. Fourth, you will get what you give. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever you sow, you will reap.

Fifth, your response should be polite even to those who are rude to you. “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay says the Lord” (Romans 12:18-19).

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