Self control: using manners

word of month character

For us adults it may seem to be a silly subject to bring up about using manners requiring the use of self control.  I have found though that listening very deeply is very hard to do. What I mean by that is that as our child, spouse, workmate or someone trying to help us in the store is trying to tell us something, that many times we are thinking about the point we want to make or what we want to say – while they are talking.  This may lead right into interrupting them or finishing their sentence – so we can get our thoughts in to the conversation.  Now while we correct our children for interrupting us while we are on the phone or speaking to another adult, they are watching us do the same to others.  Oh how funny it is that the things that bother us about our children the most are the very habits and attitudes that we see in ourselves.

So here are a few things to remember when we may need to interrupt a conversation.  Lets use an example of mom talking to a teacher with her child beside her.  Lets say the child wants to ask a question of mom.  (so many times the questions they want to ask are not about the conversation but rather about what they want to do now or later in the day)  Of course it would not be self control to whine or just to blurt something out while tugging on the sleeve of mom.  In fact as the child gets older they would want to learn what was appropriate to question at this time and what should wait. 

The self controlled way of dealing with this is to (1) wait for a break in the conversation; (2) say “excuse me” and (3) ask nicely (one time, not whining or demanding)  Now their may be times that waiting is notnecessary , and that would be in the case of an emergency.  As our children get a little older we can help them to appreciate what asking nicely includes.  Things like tone of voice, facial expressions and the words we say.

In my mind though it all begins with respect for the other persons thoughts and rights to express them.  It begins with our being interested in how the other person feels about a subject and our willingness to ‘listen deeply’ to be sure we understand how they feel, with an emphasis on others.