Have you noticed that sometimes you meet a new acquaintance for the first time who tries too hard to be extremely nice and overly polite? Doesn’t it seem like he is either socially unskilled or he has something nefarious up his sleeve? Such a level of agreeableness seems unnatural. Someone trying too hard to be agreeable sets off my mental alarm bells.
Of course, it’s natural for us to be polite and observant when we encounter new situations or are becoming acquainted. It’s unwise to be too agreeable at first, because we are otherwise at risk of appearing submissive. The person who is pleasant, curious, and mildly assertive during the first meeting is someone I’m more likely to trust.
I like the word, agreeable. It is my favorite synonym for nice, pleasant, comfortable, conformable, or suitable. The word has a touch of formality without any snobbishness. It’s reminiscent of a relaxing spring morning stroll in the park. Agreeableness is akin to eating your preferred food at your birthday dinner. It’s taking pleasure in your special pastimes during your day off from work.
Politeness and emotional warmth in people and places are a great combination. This stereotype fits the nation of Canada. At least the Canadians I know are pleasant and agreeable folks. Like everyone else, they can sometimes be grumpy, but their default demeanor seems to be friendliness. Perhaps I have yet to meet an anti-social Canadian. There must be some abrasive, unpleasant Canadians because there are police and prisons in that country.
“The reason why so few people are agreeable in conversation is that each is thinking more about what he intends to say than others are saying.”–Francois de La Rochefoucauld
We feel good about a friend or acquaintance who sincerely listens to us. Even though she may or may not agree with our point of view, it is a special feeling to know that somebody is willing to understand you. When we extend that courtesy to others, we also seem more pleasant. Being able and willing to actually listen gives us an agreeable nature. This is not to say we should be compliant, submissive people pleasers.
To too many people, the holidays are the opposite. Because of various reasons, this is the time of year they dread. Perhaps it is the ideal of perfect beauty and fulfillment that society has about the holiday season that sets many people up for disappointment.
With all of these thoughts in mind, I want to send along a more realistic holiday wish today. I hope you have an agreeable Christmas and a pleasant New Year.
The Blue Jay of Happiness likes this description from the ancient Greek mercenary/philosopher Xenophon: “For drink, there was beer, which was very strong when not mingled with water, but was agreeable to those who were used to it. They drank this with a reed, out of the vessel that held the beer, upon which they saw the barley swim.”