“[Sir Thomas] More is a man of angel’s wit and singular learning; I know not his fellow. For where is the man of that gentleness, lowliness, and affability? And as time requireth, a man of marvelous mirth and pastimes; and sometimes of as sad a gravity; a man for all seasons” (Robert Whittinton).
WHEN WE MAKE AN HONEST EFFORT TO BE AFFABLE, WE GIVE TO THOSE AROUND US A MUCH-APPRECIATED GIFT. The trait of affability actually combines two traits: to be affable means to be amiable or easy to speak to, but it also means to be mild, gentle, or benign. The combination of these qualities produces a person like Sir Thomas More, who was described by his friend as being a man of “gentleness, lowliness, and affability . . . a man for all seasons.” Folks like that are worth their weight in gold. They stir within us a response made up of equal parts admiration and appreciation.
Probably, we respond to affability as we do because we somehow sense that when folks are gentle and pleasant to converse with, they are extending kindness to us, and there aren’t many qualities we respond to more gratefully than kindness. When people give us that gift, there’s not much we wouldn’t do for them in return.
Affability certainly eases the communication process between human beings. Especially when words need to be exchanged that will be difficult to speak and difficult to hear, we listen more openly to those who’ve learned at least a little “gentleness, lowliness, and affability.” Affable people add a touch of grace to their communications.
But I’d go even further: affability eases the process of living life in general. Both those who give this gift and those to whom they give it find that life is not so much a burden as a benefit. It’s simply a fact: affable people experience life as being enjoyable in ways that completely escape those who choose to be cold and stand-offish.
So are you blessed to have family members or friends who could be described as affable? If so, don’t undervalue them or underestimate the advantage that it is, on your part, to be connected to them. Since it’s the “squeaky wheels” (the grouches, the complainers, and the protesters) that get most of the attention, agreeable people sometimes get overlooked and taken for granted. Let’s not do that.
“An agreeable companion on a journey is as good as a carriage” (Publilius Syrus).