How Can One be Effective Among People?
- :Al-Balagh Foundation
Good morals and sound relations can be a common and general language of the world, but one can rarely find a society that hates truth and justice or likes theft, injustice and aggression. Even if you find a society like this, it would be a backward and primitive society that lives outside the realm of humanity and civilization; an abnormal society, which can never be taken into consideration.
Thus, all sermons, regulations, recom-mendations, and advises in different religions are one or are close to each other, this is because man is one even though individual approaches differ. And the source of all messages is one, even though its teachings differ - and its aim and objectives are one, bringing good morals into the life of people.
Therefore, it is not surprising to see the aim of the Last Divine Message being what was reported from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) that: "I was sent to complete good morals." Thus, we must try our best to practice these laws of morals in all our undertakings. The following are ways of deriving social respect and consideration:
1- Smiling: It is a magic key with which we open people's heart. This shinning and attractive act, which moistens the lips and lightens our face, speaks the sound word saying to others: I love you, I want you to be my friend, I want to have a good relationship of love and affection with you.
It is charming because the other fellow - whether he likes it or not - will answer it in kind like or even better. It is reported in a prophetic narration that: "Smiling at the face of your friend (brother) is an alms."
The general moral law states: "Smile and the world will smile with you. When you smile you are using thirteen parts of your face, whereas you are using 74 parts when you frown!!" Thus, why do you suffer your body in something which has no benefit, or in something whose result will be harmful?!"
It is also stated in this law that: " The parts of the face are the best indicators of the feelings of its possessor." The smiling face is the best source of attracting friendship and relations with others. It is better than a gift presented by someone. Then, what is the need for stinginess?
Smile for all, be they young and old. In this way, you will surely motivate others for smiling and spread a warm and friendly atmosphere among them. In this respect, a well-known Chinese proverb says: "The one who does not know smiling well, should not open a shop." because smiling is a successful seller.
2- Handshaking: It is a great hearty expression of love of the hand giver to the hand receiver; indeed, it is a general language of love and kindness that doesn't need a translator. Whenever you put your hand into the hand of your friend, both of you will feel the sense of love and affection for each other.
It was reported in a narration encouraging handshaking to the extent that whenever two people shake hands their sins will fall away the way the dried leaves of a tree fall. Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s.) said: "When two people meet and shake hands, Allah will turn to them, and their sins will fall as the leaves of the tree fall."
3- Greetings: Greetings between people is an expression of love and affection. But, the Islamic greeting "Assalamu Alaikum" (i.e. peace be upon you) is full of greater expression than the one mentioned above. It is an expression of peace, which the whole world is looking for.
From this, we can understand what was reported in a narration. "The Almighty Allah likes he who starts greeting." Whenever you extend your greetings to whomever you meet, whether you know him or not, you are extending flowers of love and peace on people's way, as well as, putting peace and tranquility into their hearts.
The great achievement, for a person, is when others feel secure and have peace of mind whenever they meet him. And what a good behavior, when peace is exchanged with peace, while answering greetings in kind with what is better than that.
Based on general moral laws, a poet has said:
"In every hour of the day
You can give something as a gift.
It might be smiling,
And it might be extending hands in hand shaking.
And it might be a word;
Through which you strengthen others' determinations."
4- Embracing: If smiling is a key to a bright meeting and greetings are a source of tranquility and handshaking is a greeting from a heart to another heart, then embracing is a source of expressing what smiling, greetings and hand shaking were unable to express.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) is reported to have embraced Ja'far al-Tayyar and kissed his face. And, likewise, his grandson Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (a.s.) was reported to have said: "The best and most complete greeting of he who is at home is handshaking, and the best and complete greeting for a traveler is an embrace." There is no difference whether he is going or coming back from the journey.
5- In our daily life, a name has a great role to play more the story of naming someone on the day of his birth…it is our companion who may leave his effect on us positively or negatively. It is in view of this that Islam enjoins on us to call people by their best name. If he wants us to call him with his real name we must call him by it, and if he wants us to use his surname we must call him by it. It is good even to add more phrases in the names to show our respect for him.
It is said in the moral laws that: "If you want people to love you, call them by their names because the name of a person is the most loveable thing to him. When you address a person and call him by his name, you are giving him respect, which he will thank you for in return. But, when you forget his name, he will regard it as disrespect to him."
6- Paying attention to what others are saying is a good habit, which expresses love and respect to the speaker so as to make him feel at ease in saying all that is on his mind without interruption. A prophetic narration has enjoined us not to cut a speaker off while speaking, because it is a form of disrespect.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) said: "Whoever cuts his own Muslim brother off while he is speaking - it is as if he scratched his face." This is because what a speaker requires is that all ears should be turned to what he is saying. But if he has finished his speech, you have the right to ask, shed more light on or repute his sayings.
Apart from the fact that disrupting a speaker doesn't give one a chance to hear what is in the heart of the speaker, it also hurts his feelings to the extent that he may misunderstand. Most speakers respect those who listen to them even if their speech is of not much importance. Imam Ali (a.s.) said: "In the past, I had a brother- in- faith, …he was more eager for keeping quiet than speaking…"
It is said in the general moral law that: "The best of speakers is he who listens attentively to others. He who talks about his own personality, and doesn't think except about his own self is egoistic. A person with such a habit is an ignorant fellow who drags himself to pity. If you want to earn an efficiency in talking, and people to love you, you must be a good listener and encourage the other side to express him."
One of the philosophers said: "I have never learned anything while I was talking."
7- It might be possible that you will not know that I love you unless I tell you, or you might know it in a general form, but you will not know it deeply if I don't tell you, or I express it with good words, feelings, sincerity, or by presenting a valuable gift; etc...
It is one of the Islamic morals that if you love someone you should reveal it to him and not hide it from him so that to make him feel that you love him and do everything to repay the love. Indeed, loving words have achieved desirable results that cannot be expressed.
Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (a.s.) was reported to have said: "If you love someone tell him, because that will make your relationship firm." It is also among moral behavior to: "Make it your habit to narrate to others the sweetness of what you have heard or read. Do not forget your courteous behavior which expresses sincerity,
grant others good and sincere assessment of all the services they have rendered to you, be it material or spiritual, because it is one of the factors that brings confidence and firm love in the heart. The difference between assessment and adulation is that there is sincerity in assessment while adulation is just lies and destruction."
8- A word of thanks and assessment is a good and beautiful expression of concern and assessing the good habit done to you. It is hoped that it will continue. Thus, it is compulsory to thank the doers of good. It is reported in one narration that: "Whoever doesn't thank his fellow beings doesn't thank the Creator." The Almighty Allah has combined thanking Him and parents in one verse to show the importance of thanksgiving to the one did good to you, whether He is the Lord, a father or a mother. "Be grateful unto Me and unto your parents" Holy Qur'an (31: 14) It is also narrated in a hadith that: "Thanks giving which exceeds the limit is adulation, while the shortening of thanks from the limit is faltering."
Among the methods of thanks giving is revealing the special peculiarity of the thing that is worthy of thanks. You should know that an individual giving thanks, that is to every sincere helper, is more beneficial than the general thanks, because everyone will be pleased with, and may turn all the thanks and assessment, to the person concerned. Indeed, all thanks, encouragement, good words that express thanks and assessment and praying for his success and rewards, are all forms of thanksgiving that we ought to abide by, if we want to create good human relations between people.
It is said in general moral laws to: "Spend your day thanking people, in the afternoon thank many people, and before you go home at night, you must thank as many people as you can. Because thanking people is part of their environment that surrounds them and it shows your concern for them and, likewise, it has its own role in human health."
9- There is nothing superior in heart and intellect than to find an excuse for a mistake done to me by someone, because by this it lifts the heaviness of the mistake and gives me self-confidence, as well as, educates me on how to deal with others peacefully and, also, seek their apology whenever I make a mistake.
It is reported in one hadith to: "Give your brother seventy possibilities. If you didn't find an excuse for him, seek an excuse for him." Imam Ali (a.s.) said: "Do not regard the word that comes out of the mouth of someone as evil, while you can find a possibility of good in it." This shows the importance of building anything on its positive possibility and takes the mind away from any negative interpretation, even if we exhaust all possibilities and there remains only one negative possibility, we should try to find an excuse to clear our brothers from blame.
It is said in the method of morals to: "Try to gain the power of clearing shame and incapability in the mind of your fellow brother…because the words 'you have made a mistake' is the fastest way of attracting enmity." We have already mentioned ways to draw the attention of the one who made a mistake without hurting his feelings.
10- Indeed, there is a great difference between those who assess others and make them feel that they are important to the society and do not withhold from people the things that are their due, and those who make them their source of laughter and mockery. The first group attracts people while the second one makes people away from them. The Almighty Allah had prohibited this in His saying:
"Let not a people laugh at (another) people (to scorn) who happily may be better than them; nor let women laugh at other women who happily may be better than these…" Holy Qur'an (49: 11)
It was narrated in a hadith that: "The Almighty Allah has hidden His most pious servants among His servants." This narration explains to us that there is a possibility that the man we are mocking might be greater and more superior, in the sight of Allah, than us. Thus, this narration that teaches us how to treat people as great is not only a moral narration, rather it, also, teaches us a lesson; the art of social relations and value.
Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (a.s.) said: "If you see someone who is older than you, you should say: He has passed me in greatness. And if you see someone who is your junior, in terms of age, say: I have passed him in sinning, and if you see someone who is your age, then say: I am knowledgeable with myself but I do not know what is in his mind." In every circumstance, you should give less importance to your self and think good of others. Is there any moral teaching, which encourages its followers to go high, better than the moral teachings of Islam?!
It is said in the moral laws: "Do not mock and laugh at others, rather make them feel that you have concern for them. If you want people to love you, show them concern and assessment that will give them more hope… leave them to feel their importance… find something in them that is good and talk about it;
do not destroy that beautiful condition. Indeed, people differ, but you must find something good in them, if not in their creation, in their spirit. As you are hoping for yourself bliss and respect, make others, who are your brothers in humanity, also feel the same… indeed men - including me, you and the rest - are sentimental first, then later in the second stage become rational."
11- Have a glance at your surroundings… look at them carefully… you can never find someone who is free from some form of goodness even those whom at first sight you think are lacking in it. If we consider the positive features of others, we can draw them to our side.
It is reported that one day Prophet Jesus (Isa) (a.s.) and one of his followers passed by a dead and rotten dog. The man said: "This dog smells bad." But, Jesus (a.s.) only looked at the whiteness of its teeth and said: "This dog has white teeth." He looked at the positive side of the dog even though we see nothing attractive in the dog.
When Imam Musa al-Kadhim (a.s.) wanted to blame Safwan al-Jammal (one of his followers) for renting his camel to Harun Rashid, the Abbasid ruler, he started by approaching him mildly and said: "Oh! Safwan! Everything in you is good except one thing", it is renting the camel to Harun, but we see how Imam al-Kadhim (a.s.) used a good method of refutation. First, he praised the good qualities of Safwan, so when he made mention of the negative side of him (Safwan), he felt the sense of blame and asked, What is it, Oh my Lord?" trying to repair it and add it to his good qualities.
A psychologist said: "We should remember that we have common qualities, with our differences, and they are that each and every one of us has good and superior qualities."
Others have said: "If you want to refute, then consider it with intimacy and felicity." It is said in a prophetic narration that: "May Allah bless the one who guides me toward my shortcomings." Guidance can never be achieved except by a good approach.
12- The best person to attract people's love and respect to himself is he who benefits them. It is said in a narration that: "The best of men is he who benefits people." The more the benefit grows the more the love and respect of people grows.
Abdul-Aziz al-Qaratisi reported from Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) that: "One day Abu Abdullah said: Oh Abdal-Aziz! Belief (iman) is like a ladder that has ten steps, therefore, he who is on the second step should not say to the one on the first that he is nothing until he reaches the tenth. Do not intimidate he who is under you; he who is above you will intimidate you. If you see someone who is under you, try and raise him up mildly. Do not make him do what is above his capability, you will break him, and he who breaks a believer, will take the responsibility."
It is among the necessities of good companionship to find a good friend who stays with you with all sincerity and is beneficial both spiritually and materially. There is no stinginess and pride; friendship must be only for Allah's sake.
In order to attract your friend towards you, you must try and raise him to your standard, and this is what is said and emphasized by those who have experience in the field of education that: "Do not exceed the limit in praising your values, because it is possible that those who you think are inferior to you, might be superior to you, and what you are proud of may be something useless in the sight of others."
Therefore, some psychologists have said: "Encouragement makes people successful, and you can make someone like what you want him to do if you work in order to achieve what you want from him." 13- It is our common nature that we give more care and concern to big issues only. We tend to forget about small issues or we give them less concern.
Regarding the saying of the Almighty Allah; "Verily we see you of the doers of good (to all)." Holy Qur'an (12: 36), Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (a.s.) is reported to have said: "He used to widen the gathering, lending to the needy and helping the destitute."
The Imam (a.s.) is, also, reported to have said: "He is not from us who doesn't control himself at the time of sadness, nor makes good his relationship with his companion, who disagrees with he who disagrees with him, nor follows he who follows him, who isn't close to the one who becomes closer to him, and who doesn't eat with the one who eats with him." All these are considered as ways of making relationships good and making the tree of love grow and benefits from its fruits and flowers.
It is said in the moral laws that: "Do not neglect a little concern, because it has a great issue and benefit."
Adapted from the book: "The Art of Social Relations" by: "Al-Balagh Foundation"
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