For people who participate in my weekly mentorship calls, they have come to expect that we start each session with a character trait we hope to strengthen or be more intentional about building into our life.

Recently, our character trait was Gracious.

Webster’s defines gracious as, “marked by kindness and courtesy”. It is very much related to other traits we have spoken about like Humility, Kindness, Friendliness, and Generosity.

An ancient proverb says, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” I have a very silly, but powerful example to share that I believe brings the point home.

My wife and I were early adopters of the Keurig coffee maker (No, this is not a commercial). We bought ours shortly after they were marketed for home use in 2004. Whenever the water level was too low, the little LCD display would say, “Add water.” Too simple words that accurately reflected what needed to be done. However, if I had just woken up and gone into the kitchen looking forward to that first cup of coffee, fired up the machine only to see, “Add water,” it was very frustrating and I probably let out more than my fair share of unhappy groans! I may have even felt a little frustration toward my wife because obviously she didn’t top it off when the Add Water notice came up after her last cup of coffee…And yep, you guessed it…the same was true for her. She blamed me…Can you believe that? Well anyway, our beloved Keurig finally bit the dust after a long life of faithful service.

When we got our new one, we noticed a subtle but important change. Instead of, “Add water” it said, “More water please.” We both smiled. I still smile when I see it. How can you get frustrated at a little machine that says please? After all, it’s only desire is to serve me and it needs my help to do so. So funny that such a little thing can change your entire perspective. Next time you are speaking with others listen closely to the words and phrases you use. Are they gracious – marked by kindness and courtesy? Do they sound sharp and demanding, like “Add water” or are they soft and deflecting like “More water please?” – Thank you Keurig for such an important life lesson.

By the way, the designer/engineer that came up with the new terminology should be given a huge bonus and raise!

So go out there and be gracious today! Lord knows, we need more of it in our world!