Think of all of the people in your life. All of us play different roles in life – mother, father, spouse, children, friend, schoolmate, employer, employee, teacher, student, acquaintance. If we believe that all people deserve to be treated with dignity, how can we be sure that we are living that belief? How can we show that we are treating others with care and attention – like they matter?
There are a few simple things we can practice – yet sometimes these are easy to forget:
Listening: Really listening to whom we are speaking. We know we are listening if we have good eye contact, asking appropriate questions, nodding our head as they speak, and most important – not thinking about what we want to say when they are done. People feel that the best conversations they have are the ones that the other person really listens – they feel like they really matter.
Empathy: When we see another person having a tough day, showing them that we care and that they matter. For different people that may look different. For some having a tough day they just need time to de-compresss, so allowing them that time is what we do. For others they need to talk about what is happening to them – our listening skills come into play – not judging or fixing – just listening. Asking those we recognize as not feeling so great – what we can do to help them. We may know what we can do and then when we just do it – they feel cared for.
Meeting new people: When there is someone new in our community (school, neighborhood, workplace) treating them with dignity may be as simple as a greeting, showing them around, inviting them to eat with us. This is especially true if they are not outgoing or are a bit different from others, our response to them with a caring and helpful attitude will make them feel accepted.
Did you notice how all of these tie together? Meeting new people calls for empathy and listening skills, listening skills helps our empathy, empathy increases our listening skills. Giving others the dignity that they deserve is a way of showing honor to others as humans, compassion, kindness, respect, unity, friendliness and consideration. We get to practice many of our gifts of character by giving dignity to others.