Worldwide, the concept of “graciousness” exists in different cultures. What does it mean? Within Chinese philosophy, when the heart feels empathy (in particular for the oppressed) a person has been touched by grace. In ancient Greek and Roman mythology, graciousness is explained in the form of the Three Graces /Charities. These sister goddesses who used charm, good humor and beauty brought happiness through refinement and gentleness. In Christianity, it is known that those who have been blessed by God have received God’s grace.
Read the 8 tips below on how to implement these ideas of graciousness into your life, and have a gracious Thanksgiving.
- Express your thanks: Whether you are the host of the meal or a guest attending, thank the people around you. Express your gratitude in sharing a beautiful meal together.
- Communicate: As a guest, offer to bring a side-dish or needed item. Be it napkins, sweet potato casserole or a pie, the simple inquiry can make a world of difference for your host. Offer to set the table with your hostess a day in advance. If you are a host and are in need of assistance, ask! Communication is key to a smooth Thanksgiving.
- Respect their hosting style: If your host chooses to decline your offer, take no offense. This denial does not mean they believe you incompetent; they may be an individual who prefers more control and specific recipes. Every host is different.
- Be compassionate: Alternatively, if you are a host and request aid but the guest is unable to do so, be compassionate. It doesn’t mean they won’t help, sometimes it means they can’t possibly due to lack of finances or time.
- Reflect: Taking note of what you are most thankful for in life is actually good for your health. Before the festivities, take time to reflect on what you are grateful in your life. Be an inspirational role model. Be prepared when asked to share with table guests.
- Use gracious words: This is a time for celebration with friends and family, not a time to discuss topics that may leave guests uncomfortable.
- Delays or no-shows: This nationally celebrated holiday occurs during flu and cold season. Weather delays are common. Be understanding with the many loved ones in our lives. If guests fail to make an appearance, or only stop by for a short while, accept the situation with understanding and graciousness.
- Offer to clean post feast: Hosting a feast makes things messy quickly. Offer to aid in the kitchen and dining area. It’s a huge help to your host, and appreciated.
With the many ways cultures worldwide express graciousness, in the U.S. we show appreciation, put others before ourselves, express gratitude and say thank you to those most important to us. Read more about the 5 Global Thanksgiving Traditions here. Happy Thanksgiving!
Sharon Schweitzer and Sophie Echeverry co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre and the Intercultural Communication Institute, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, and Fortune. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards and the 2017 New York City Big Book Award for Multicultural Nonfiction.
Sophie Echeverry is the corporate marketing manager and event coordinator at Access to Culture. Born and raised in Colombia, she’s a 2018 graduate with a B.B.A. in International Business and Marketing from Hult International Business School in San Francisco, CA. Connect with her on LinkedIn.