04 Apr How to Be Well-Rounded
It used to be that a person’s character was the primary factor in determining their worth. In those olden days, it wasn’t just about having college degrees; it was about having the right education, a practical education.
A virtuous person was held to the highest honor. Values such as humility, frugality and industry were qualities highly sought after. Before Dr. Phil and Oprah were even born, Benjamin Franklin wrote a treatise called “13 virtues” on just such a topic, one of the earliest “self-help” sort of books.
Although we are no longer as religious as our forbearers, there’s still a genuine need to attain a certain level of being informed, educated and adept at meeting the challenges of tomorrow. At times, the rapid changes of society and social upheaval blurs the line of what is acceptable and what is not. But that’s why we’re here. Here are some essential topics to know to become a well-rounded individual in this modern age.
Rules of etiquette. It may seem that rules of etiquette are no longer the norm. After all, with the widespread use of the Internet and mobile phones, face-to-face interaction is becoming scarcer and scarcer. Many have done away with the concept of etiquette, brushing it off as pretentious. That’s one (incorrect) way to look at it. What etiquette actually is, what it means to you and your success, is the ability to change behaviors of others, to influence them, to ingratiate yourself to them. Emily Post, who may be America’s authoritative voice on manners, best defined etiquette as the following: “whenever two people come together and their behavior affects one another, you have etiquette. ”
This is powerful stuff. You’d be surprised to find how rapidly a tense situation can be diffused if one just shows some empathy for others. A little courtesy goes a long way, whether we’re in the company of friends, colleagues or strangers. Everyone can appreciate care for fellow human beings. This includes saying “please” and “thank you” and “I’m sorry.”
There are thousands of websites and books you can flip through to learn the basics of etiquette. They can actually be quite fun. Some older books may include more seemingly archaic rules of etiquette, and whatever seems absurd you can dispense away with, but even the silly stuff is amusing to read.
The absolute musts of etiquette include dining etiquette, proper methods of showing appreciation, social norms (who pays for dinner, etc.), correspondence, and rules on being a guest at someone’s event or in their home. All are absolutely essential to ensure you can perform well in any situation, and avoid any social gaffes!
Be knowledgeable on basic history. The ability to converse with others on events of the day is sorely lacking in today’s society. Being able to converse intelligently on historical events and understanding how current day events are in some ways tied to past conflicts is not only helpful to getting others to understand you, but can elevates your social standing. Brush up on geography if this is not your strong suit. Have a general idea of where important countries are located. This shows that you’re keen on self-improvement and that you’re open minded to other cultures that have made key contributions to the world. Being cognizant of this can be helpful in breaking the ice in meeting new people, particularly foreigners!
Know how to screw a screw. Both women and men would do well to become handy around the house. You need to know the difference between a screwdriver and a wrench. For single ladies who may not have a “man” around, there’s no need to pay a handyman when you can do it yourself. Same goes for men. Why pay for repairs that would likely take you just a few minutes to do yourself? Home Depot sponsors a few do-it-yourself workshops that can give you some ideas on where to start. Internet blogs are also a good way to start familiarizing yourself on easy projects that you can do at home. It’s inevitable that, at least once in your life, you’ll need to know to screw in a screw, especially if you purchase any kind of furniture for an apartment or home (here’s looking at you, IKEA furniture).
Know how to fix a killer-meal. Even if you can’t cook anything else, these should be one dish that you can whip up that elicits oohs and aahs from your dining companions. And knowing how to put together a meal isn’t a skill that’s only for women. This is an outdated notion. What cooking is however, is testament that you care enough to provide nourishment to those that you love by being adept in the kitchen. Moreover, taste is a strong sense, strong enough to your guests back to a specific place and time, or trigger positive memories, which they will then project on you.
Know that you can always improve. The surest sign of an educated person is that they know that, relative to the world, they know little. As the saying goes, “the more you learn, the less you know.” An educated person never presumes that they know what’s best, or have indisputable knowledge about a subject. They keep their mind open and are always eager to absorb lessons, information, and experience from others.