It’s one of those words you find yourself looking up. And then feeling silly for doing so. Of course you know what “grace” is, right? There’s the “gracious host” or the “graceful dancer”.
But when trying to picture an everyday version of grace – of grace at work — we draw a blank.
Like many others, I’ve grown used to people complaining and scowling, whispering behind someone’s back when they should be speaking to them up front. I’m no longer shocked by abrupt communications, latecomers to a meeting, or total silence when I’m expecting a reply. People today are ready for a fight and expecting a slight. Jaded, exhausted, and chronically aggrieved is our new normal. These days grace feels downright antiquated: the product of a bygone era, when we weren’t all busy checking our phones and ranting on social media.
So recently I decided to become a grace spotter: on the lookout for people who exhibited the kinds of behaviors that I associate with civility and respect. I wanted to be reminded of what grace looks like, and I needed to know what it feels like. During the course of my experiment I noticed I found myself drawn to people who:
…smiled easily and shared willingly
…gave thanks when it was deserved
…handled differences with generosity
…let go of slights and moved on from them
…asked sincere questions and listened closely to the answers
I became drawn to people who brought light rather than darkness to a conversation. Maybe that sounds a bit “woo woo”, but think about it. Think about the people in your workplace who create rather than destroy, who replenish rather than drain, who consistently deliver the best of themselves and draw out the best from others. There is a lightness to them, an ease. And in turn they bring lightness and ease to their environments.
During my time grace spotting, I developed my own definition of grace: everyday care. Gracious leaders show up care-fully: full of care. They pay attention to small courtesies and in turn generate good will. Grace is generative: breathing life and hope into any human endeavor. Because inherent in grace is the recognition of our shared humanity, the acknowledgement that small gestures matter. That everyday behavior matters. That care matters.
I became drawn to people who brought light rather than darkness to a conversation.
With grace, we elevate the everyday. And in the absence of grace, our collective humanity is degraded.
So for the next month, we invite you to become a grace spotter. Became aware of people who carry themselves with civility and respect, and its effect on others. Notice the specific behaviors that constitute grace and the reactions to it.
What kind of environment do acts of grace generate?
How can grace transform?
And importantly, in the process of spotting grace, look for it in yourself. What might you look like as a “gracious leader”? How could it transform your workplace, your career, ultimately, your life?
Written by Jillian Reilly