In April of 1965, Allan M. Trout, columnist for the Courier Journal, published a list that he mysteriously found in his middle drawer while cleaning out his desk. The list was titled "Ten Rules on How to Get Along with People," and to this day does not have an author associated with it. My father later passed this same list on to me when I was in high school. The list had a profound impact on me, and I still reference it today. The Ten Rules are as follows:
Ten Rules on How to Get Along with People
Keep skid chains on your tongue. Always say less than you think. Cultivate a low, persuasive voice. Remember that how you say it often counts more than what you say.
Make promises sparingly, and keep them faithfully, no matter what it costs you.
Never let an opportunity pass to say a kind and encouraging thing to or about somebody. Praise good work done, regardless of who did it. If criticism is merited, criticize helpfully, never spitefully.
Be interested in others; interested in their pursuits, their welfare, their homes and families. Make merry with those that rejoice, and mourn with those who weep. Let everyone you meet, however humble, feel that you regard them as one of importance.
Be cheerful. Keep the corners of your mouth turned up. Hide your pains, worries and disappointments under a smile. Laugh at good stories and learn to tell them.
Preserve an open mind on all debatable questions. Discuss, but do not argue. It is a mark of superior minds to disagree and yet be friendly.
Let your virtues speak for themselves, and refuse to talk of another’s vices. Discourage gossip. Make it a rule to say nothing of another unless it is something good.
Be careful of others' feelings. Wit and humor at the other fellow’s expense are rarely worth the effort and may hurt when least expected.
Pay no attention to ill-natured remarks about you. Simply live so that nobody will believe them. Disordered nerves and bad digestion are a common cause of back-biting.
Don’t be too anxious about getting your just dues. Do your work, be patient and keep your disposition sweet. Forget self and you will be rewarded.
Perhaps my favorite part of Mr. Trout's article was at the very end when he writes the following:
The rules are well put. And I imagine most of us, at one time or another have practiced them in twos and threes with satisfactory results. But it seems to me that one who practiced all of them all the time would become a paragon of virtue without a taste for salt and allergic to spice.
So, it might be a good idea to practice Rule 1 on Monday, Rule 1 and 2 on Tuesday, Rule 1 and 3 on Wednesday, Rule 1 and 4 on Thursday, and so on in 10-day cycles. Better still, forget the whole business and try this one: Most people live by the formula of 'I' and 'u' (big I and little u). Well, simply reverse the formula to 'U' and 'i' (big U and little i). It will work wonders.
I love his simple ending, wrapping up all the virtues in one, easy to remember, principle.
This notion isn't a groundbreaking new piece of wisdom that this writer stumbled upon. In fact, the author's response is a near reflection of the Golden Rule. "In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you" (Matthew 7:11).
Sometimes it's the simplest messages that have the greatest impact. A single value can have far more impact than a thousand rules. The value here: put others FIRST. You don't have to learn something new to improve your life and more importantly, the lives of others.
“People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.”
-Dr. Samuel Johnson