On The Importance of Geniality | The BridgeMaker

On The Importance of Geniality

By on May 30, 2013

Importance of Geniality

The world is never saved in grand messianic gestures, but in the simple accumulation of gentle, soft, almost invisible, everyday acts of compassion. – Chris Abani

When we hear stories about good people, we generally hear about people whose generosity knows no bounds. We hear about people who have performed grandiose acts that deserve praise and admiration.

Today, I’d like to speak about a different kind of person. Those, who with their small and hardly felt acts, make the world a pleasant place.

Speaking Gently

A few days ago, I took a stroll in the park with a friend who is an experienced teacher in a high school in Jerusalem. As we chitchatted along our walk, her phone rang.

We usually don’t answer the phone while on our walk, but my friend checked the caller ID. She apologetically explained that she has to pick up because one of her students was calling. As we continued our stroll, I listened to her conversation.

This story is not about what happened, rather how it happened.

The student was telling her about an exam he had the same day. I wasn’t able to hear what he said, but I heard my friend speak to him. She spoke to him very gently; with patience, empathy, and support.

When she finished her call, I told her that I liked the way she spoke to her student. She responded that speaking that way was a given and saw no reason to receive special praise for it, but I did.

A Small Act

I still remember how some of our teachers would speak with us. They would respond to us curtly and impatiently. This kind of attitude by a teacher, even if the language is not harsh, embarrasses the student.

I also remember the “other” kind of teacher; those who I never hesitated to speak with, those who were warm and caring.

When I go to the supermarket, I always smile to the butcher and exchange pleasantries. It’s amazing to see how such a small act can have such a grand affect.

The butcher always smiles back, happy to serve me, and tells me which cut of meat is the best. My intentions when being nice are not to get better service; rather I think it creates a nicer environment with positive energy flowing between us.

Remaking Ourselves

Our lives are full of small day to day encounters with others. The question is how will those interactions look? If we smile at the people we are interacting with, and ask them how they are, then those interactions and life in general will be more pleasant.

I think that ultimately when we contribute to a positive atmosphere, we can also achieve what we want. The universe will always reflect our behavior back to us.

Aggression leads to negative and abrasive reactions. The opposite also holds true; an optimistic and friendly attitude will lead to a courteous and pleasant response.

Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian leader who is considered the symbol of nonviolent resistance, said: “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world — that is the myth of the atomic age — as in being able to remake ourselves.”

I suggest that we begin remaking ourselves by changing the way we treat others.

Asnat Greenberg is an economist, artist, and writer. She worked at the Bank of Israel for 20 years managing foreign investments. A few years ago, she followed her heart, left the bank and began to create art. Her book, Secrets of Kindness: A Journey among Good People is the story of her journey through the world of altruism. This fascinating mosaic of interviews with good people forms an impressive and inspiring document showing the human spirit at its best. She is married, has three children, and lives in Jerusalem, Israel. Secrets of Kindness: A Journey among Good People can be found at: http://www.secretsofkindness.com/. Her art can be seen at: http://helen-and-asnat.com/.

  • Fran Sorin

    Asnat – I have never heard anyone express your message quite the way that you have. Everyday kindness is something that all of us should embrace naturally rather than it being perceived as something unusual. Whenever I do errands, I make sure to be respectful and smile regardless of the response I get. And when I sense that whoever I meet knows how to play, then the conversation turns into a wonderful form of improvisation. I walk away from that type of encounter with a full heart and a feeling of connection.

    It’s synchronicity that you live in Jerusalem. I am in Tel Aviv. If you feel like connecting, I would love to hear from you. With gratitude for a fine post – Fran

    • Asnat Greenberg

      Hi Fran,

      Thank you for the kind words. I’m glad that my message hit home with you.

      You can connect with me via e-mail: goodpeoplestories@gmail.com

      Hope to hear from you soon,


  • The universe will always reflect our behavior back to us, that is the law I live by Asnat and it makes life simpler as a result.

    • Asnat Greenberg

      It certainly makes life simpler, but also much more pleasant.
      Thank you for the kind words

  • Mantha Powers

    Yes. Yes. Yes! Be kind and you can change someone elses day as well as your own.

    • Asnat Greenberg

      You can change it in ways that are unimaginable!
      Thanks for the support

  • Lovely. I personally think I have grown in many ways thanks to the people I interact with and have the pleasure of observing. Excellent points, Asnat. Thank you.

    Thank you, Alex.

    • Asnat Greenberg

      Thank you Vidya for the kind words!

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