Sunday, December 26, 2010
Resolve To Make '11 A Year of Kindness To All
By Thelma Domenici
For the Journal
Dear Readers: Are you making resolutions for the new year? Now is a good time to get our minds set for the coming year on a path of kindness and positive interaction. Our time can be affected with so much negativity by the world we live in; it's up to us to counter it with the courtesy, kindness and respect of good manners.
I've said before that good manners are about who you are all the time. They are not just the behavior you put on when you get dressed up or are in the company of certain people. This year let's resolve to make our best behavior our all-the-time behavior. Let's resolve to think about courtesy and kindness first and to show respect at every opportunity.
I've said before that if I could start an epidemic it would be an epidemic of kindness, where the positive feelings created for a person by one kind act inspire that person to repeat and create them in someone else. I would love for such a chain reaction to touch us all. Resolving to look for those opportunities is a start.
Finally, let's take care of our hearts this year. Let's focus on building and exercising our "heartsense," that feeling of right and wrong at our cores that informs our judgment. We all should have it; it's often just a matter of deciding to follow it. In an everyday interaction or even an etiquette dilemma, ask yourself, "What is the kindest thing I can do?" What you come up with from your heart is probably the right answer.
Dear Thelma: I've heard that "re-gifting" is OK, but I think I would feel awful if someone found out I had given them a gift that had been gifted to me once before. I would almost rather let the thing sit on my shelf forever than risk that. What do you think about it?
A: Done carefully, re-gifting is an acceptable way to make the most of something you've received and shown thanks for but can't use. Done improperly, it can turn the giving into something that doesn't feel very gracious.
If you know exactly who gave you the gift and under what circumstances, then you can make a wise decision in your re-gifting. You do not want to take any chance that the gift could find itself back to the original giver or someone closely connected to the person or the event at which it was given. That would show that you were not thoughtful in your giving.
Think carefully about the gift and who will receive it. Be certain it is something that the receiver would really like. Don't re-gift just to get rid of something. If it's an item that you don't like and can't imagine anyone you know liking, do not give it as a gift. Instead, find a charity you can donate it to for the group's use or for sale at a fundraiser.
Any gift you plan to recycle should be kept unused and in its original packaging and labeled immediately with the original giver's name and the situation in which it was given. It's best not trust yourself to remember that information.
If the re-gifting doesn't feel right to you but you still think someone might appreciate the item, outside of a gift-giving time simply explain you have this item that you can't use and ask if they'd like to have it. It may make for a pleasant surprise for someone and a happy home for the gift.
A gracious gift and good manners never go out of style.
Have a question about etiquette? You can ask it at www.askthelma.com. Thelma Domenici is CEO of Thelma Domenici & Associates, offering corporate coaching and contemporary social skills development programs to all ages.