“Civility costs nothing and buys everything.”
Mary Worley Montagu
While today is May Day it is another one of those days where I am running behind so I am going back to May 1st nine years ago and sending you what I wrote back then.
Ray’s Daily first published on May 1st, 2006
I got an e-mail the other day from one of our readers, a friend I have yet to meet. He told me how difficult it was for him to work with an employee who is a mean, miserable person. He also said that he has the misfortune to work with a tart-tongued woman colleague who is never civil.
He asked me for any ideas I had that might help make his life with these two more tolerable. Here is what I wrote back:
I have found that people cannot make me angry, I get angry only because I lose control and let them get to me. In the case of the mean spirited I can only feel sorry for them as I continue to do the best I can. It is not always easy, but I find that being able to look in the mirror at the end of each day and recognize that I did as good as I could is all the judgment I really need. I also find that there is a lot to be said for grace under fire, one of the greatest compliments I ever got was when someone said I lose gracefully.
I do not require others to be civil to me; I only require that I am civil to them. I also find that often the uncivil cannot deal very easily with those who don’t respond in kind and if we do succumb and respond in kind we become as bad as they are. Their behavior is not my problem it is theirs.
It has always been amazing to me how staying calm in the storm generates so much inner strength. In my case others can form their opinions, but only I can judge myself. I will always do the best I can and if they don’t always agree that is their problem.
And oh yes, I always find it to be disarming when others tell me something that is right and I thank them and agree with them, the angry often cannot cope with that.
My best always,
We have a choice about how we behave, and that means we have the choice to opt for civility and grace.
Basic Flying Rules: Try to stay in the middle of the air. Do not go near the edges of it. The edges of the air can be recognized by the appearance of ground, buildings, sea, trees, and interstellar space. It is much more difficult to fly there.
“I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.”
Mary Louise Gilman, the venerable editor of the National Shorthand Reporter has collected many of the more hilarious courtroom bloopers in two books – Humor in the Court (1977) and More Humor in the Court. From Mrs. Gilman’s two volumes, here are some of my favorite transcripts, all recorded by America’s keepers of the word:
- What is your brother-in-law’s name?
- What’s his first name?
- I can’t remember.
- He’s been your brother-in-law for years, and you can’t remember his first name?
- No. I tell you I’m too excited. (Rising from the witness chair and pointing to Mr. Borofkin.) Nathan, for God’s sake, tell them your first name!
- Did you ever stay all night with this man in New York?
- I refuse to answer that question.
- Did you ever stay all night with this man in Chicago?
- I refuse to answer that question.
- Did you ever stay all night with this man in Miami?
- What is your name?
- Ernestine McDowell.
- And what is your marital status?
Q: Are you sexually active?
A: No, I just lie there.
Anybody who claims that marriage is a fifty-fifty proposition doesn’t know the first thing about men, women or fractions.
My secretary stopped me as I approached her desk. Red faced and nervous, she pointed to an expense statement and asked if I thought it appropriate to charge the company for such an item. It read “Viagrafix.” I didn’t see any cause for her concern, until I realized we were reading the word differently: she as “viagra fix” and I, “ViaGrafix,” a software design package.
For every minute you are angry with someone, you lose 60 seconds of happiness that you can never get back.
A man called his neighbor to help him move a couch that had become stuck in the doorway. They got on either end of the couch and struggled until they were exhausted, but the couch wouldn’t budge.
“Forget it,” the man finally gasped. “We’ll never get this in.”
A frustrated voice came from the other side of the couch: “In?”
In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.
A deputy police officer responded to a report of a barroom disturbance. The “disturbance” turned out to be well over six feet tall and weighed almost 300 pounds. What’s more, he boasted that he could whip the deputy and Muhammad Ali too.
Said the policeman, “I’ll bet that you’re also an escape artist-probably better than Houdini.”
The giant nodded.
“If I had some chains,” the deputy continued, “you could show us how strong you really are. But all I’ve got is a set of handcuffs. Why don’t you see just how quickly you can break out of them?”
Once in the cuffs, the man puffed, pulled and jerked for four minutes. “I can’t get out of these,” the giant growled.
“Are you sure?” the deputy asked. The fellow tried again. “Nope,” he replied. “I can’t do it.”
“In that case,” said the deputy, “you’re under arrest.”
The nicest thing about the future is that it always starts tomorrow.
A widower who never paid any attention to his wife while she was alive now found himself missing her desperately. He went to a psychic to see if he could contact his late wife.
The psychic went into a trance. A strange breeze wafted through the darkened room, and suddenly, the man heard the unmistakable voice of his dearly departed wife.
“Honey!” he cried. “Is that you?”
“Yes, my husband.”
“Are you happy?”
“Yes, my husband.”
“Happier than you were with me?”
“Yes, my husband…much happier ! ”
“Then Heaven must be an amazing place!”
“I’m not in Heaven, dear.”
Behave as if you were in heaven, where there are no 3rd class carriages, and one soul is as good as another
George Bernard Shaw
Stay well, do good work, and have fun.
Management is not responsible for duplicates from previous dailies. The editor is somewhat senile.
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