Mr Chan Whye Chuen’s view that graciousness should be seen as a two-way exchange (“It takes two to be gracious”, June 4) requires a comment.
In its essence, graciousness is pro-social behaviour that shows thoughtfulness and helpfulness to those around us. As social graces go, it is natural to expect some reciprocation of similar gracious behaviour.
By showing appreciation for the gracious acts we receive, we affirm others for their kindness and, in turn, extend graciousness to the other person. The pleasantness of the exchange also encourages those around to pay it forward in their own unique ways.
As social beings, it can be disappointing when our efforts to initiate interaction with others are brushed off, and we do not receive the acknowledgement we expect. Yet, it is important that these disappointments do not deter us from being gracious to others as a matter of course.
Kindness is, by definition, an innate value that is other-centred and expects no benefit in return. When graciousness becomes second nature to more of us, practised regardless of circumstances, then we can say that we are a truly gracious society.
As that pro-social behaviour becomes a norm, we can look forward to kindness becoming more inculcated as a value we all share. When that happens, our social interaction would be characterised by spontaneous kindness, reciprocated or otherwise.
But since it would be a norm of behaviour, natural reciprocation would be likely.
Dr William Wan
Singapore Kindness Movement
First published in TODAY – June 6, 2013