Civility: Self-restraint solutions

Part 4

Americans are known for their free expressions of emotion and informality. The British are more reserved, formal and restrained in emotions. The French express themselves freely, both positively and negatively. Hindus believe that self-restraint leads to the highest merit and is sacred.

In dealing with business in foreign countries, it is important to understand their particular protocol in order to avoid offending their sense of reserve. The ability to use self-restraint is an essential knowledge of all successful relationships.

The following are suggestions for situations that involve the practicing self-restraint:

• Refrain from attacking another person's thoughts, feelings and ideas that are different from your own. Everyone has different experiences in life that create their beliefs.

• Use self-control and restraint regarding verbal and physical interaction; this will diminish a negative emotional response.

• Avoid interrupting others unless you are sharing enthusiastically on a particular subject.

• Avoid interruptions with telephones or cell phones. Be present in the moment.

• Avoid taking something that does not belong to you.

• Refrain from using destructive criticism. Avoid being part of the problem. Always attempt to be part of the solution.

• Control the negative tone of your voice. Keep skid chains on your tongue.

• Be agreeable, without being disagreeable. Agree to disagree.

• Refrain from blaming others, which causes you to be the victim who does not accept responsibility for your part of the problem.

• Avoid personal attacks or labels using the word "you."

• Refrain from putting someone on the defensive. Use respect and kindness.

• Control emotional outbursts when there are disagreements. Remain calm.

• Be assertive, with respect toward others. Aggressiveness lacks respect for others.

• In response to another's rudeness, use restraint and respect as a positive example.

• Respect personal boundaries within families where there is the most familiarity.

• Remain calm and assertive while stating your feelings and maintaining your boundaries.

• In a heated discussion, take a "time out" period, indicating you would like to discuss the situation later. Use distraction to create a separation and calmer situation.

• For self-restraint, control impulses, delay immediate gratification and regulate emotions.

Using emotional competence and discipline, civility can create successful relationships. One who respects himself deserves the right to receive respect from others. Self-restraint is the key to that respect, and to all successful relationships.

DIANA OLSON, MA AICI CIP, is an image/ etiquette & civility specialist. Contact her at (626) 584-9761 or

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