Winning Hearts and Minds: Courtesy and Grace.

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In summary, this story is about a dinner party where the President's friend, Jarrett, mistakes General Chiarelli for a waiter. Chiarelli does nothing to embarrass or shame Jarrett and instead acts like a gentleman. This story is a great example of how courtesy can go a long way.
  • #1

I stumbled on this puff-piece and began to read it because of the mention of a "five star general"... which would be news to me in this century. Of course, the title worked, and by the time I'd realized the bait was there, the hook was in.

Not a bad one it turns out, because this describes the kind of common courtesy, and uncommon courtesy that people seem to be losing sight of. It doesn't matter who you are, or where you are in life; it costs little to nothing when you make another feel genuinely at ease. Let's face it, we've all been there in some way at some age... don't we wish one of these fellows had been there?

I often find that people in the "West" are less concerned with humiliation, or view it as beneficial when there's cause. I'm not weighing in on that, but in the cases outlined here, I think we can all agree that nothing was to be gained from it. When I hear about Hosni Mubarak being "spared humiliation" I laugh... this is what it really means, not soothing the ego of a wannabe-pharaoh.

CNN Bob Greene said:
As reported by the website Daily Caller, Jarrett, a longtime Chicago friend of President Obama, was seated at the dinner when a general -- later identified as Chiarelli, the No. 2-ranking general in the U.S. Army hierarchy, who was also a guest at the gathering -- walked behind her. Chiarelli was in full dress uniform.

Jarrett, apparently only seeing Chiarelli's striped uniform pants, thought that he was a waiter. She asked him to get her a glass of wine.

She was said to be mortified as soon as she realized her mistake, and who wouldn't be? But the instructive part of this tale is what Chiarelli did next...

What did he do next? Well, you already know, or read the story! :smile:

So... not just courtesy, but sparing someone more than their "lesson's worth" of embarrassment or shame... what do you think? Have we come far enough that we should buffer these kinds of experiences, or if you break Sinatra's alabaster, should you be crucified? Is it all just a matter of image? Personally, I see real value in mitigating shame and humiliation, but not eliminating it. These are stories in which the person was ALREADY going to be mortified, but now much less so. So how do you defuse a tense situation that is, truly, nobody's fault?
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  • #2
That's a great story; it's almost out of the classic book "how to win friends and influence people."
  • #3
waht said:
That's a great story; it's almost out of the classic book "how to win friends and influence people."

Yeah, I really did enjoy it myself... that is grace in a moment when many would feel slighted. It's telling that these people were comfortable enough, and aware enough of those they intereact with, that they didn't take offense to begin with.

Then of course, there are books such as these:
'The Theory and Practice of Gamesmanship: Or the Art of Winning Games Without Actually Cheating' by Stephen Potter... who had two GREAT follow-up books.

I recommend them as a both hilarious, and genuinely stimulating in the manners department. After all, to be kind, you have to know how to be a bit of a prankster as well. (my opinion only)

Suggested for: Winning Hearts and Minds: Courtesy and Grace.