Kent Nerburn, in Letters to My Son, said that you need two things for a relationship to endure: You need the ability to laugh together. And you need to respect how your partner deals with the rest of the world.

I love this because it reminds us to be lighter and more accepting of invitations to enjoy life and the people around us. Nerburn is also pointing out that how we interact with the world matters. People notice how we treat others and the world in general.

Friends, family, and colleagues, in particular, notice when we do not meet their expectations for interacting with others. And just as important, if we act in ways that are consistent with our own values, standards, and beliefs for being in the world, we will be happier.

Here are some traits to reflect upon. Then take a minute to ask yourself the questions. It will give you a great idea of your current mindset, and how you interact with the rest of the world.

  • Treating people respectfully regardless of their position or relationship (Are you gracious?)
  • Being ethical (Are your standards high and consistent?)
  • Being loyal to those not present (Do you undermine or gossip about others?)
  • Choosing to engage in conversations that add value (Are your conversations worth having?)
  • Choosing language that expresses respect (Are you civil, courteous?)
  • Keeping the confidences of others (Are you discreet and mindful about what others share with you?)
  • Being open (Are you easy to talk to and willing to consider new ideas, questions, and views?)
  • Being responsive (Do you get back to people quickly when they leave messages or invitations for you?)
  • Being aware of others (Do you notice people who are not included or participating?)
  • Using simple courtesies (Do you say please, thank you?)
  • Respecting other people’s time (Do you ask if this is a good time to talk or avoid making unnecessary requests?)
  • Giving your word and keeping it (Do you follow through on your commitments?)

The good news? If you’re not happy with your answers, 2015 is just around the corner. In fact, I can’t think of a better time than the New Year to hit the reset button, to begin anew.

So whether you’re catching up with a childhood friend during the holidays or simply passing someone on the sidewalk, remind yourself of the traits above. Be conscious of thoughts, and your actions.

Dave Barry said it simply: “A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter is not a nice person.”