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GETTING NASTY

Posted by Tim Bryce on June 25, 2012

– Do nice guys always finish last? Well, ah…

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Something I find interesting in our society is our predisposition for being rude and offensive. About a year ago I saw a high school graduation ceremony at a football field where the parents were outright obnoxious. Instead of quietly sitting in the stands and offering polite applause at appropriate moments, it was a ruckus affair where parents pushed and shoved, shouted and whistled at their kids, some even stepped over the lines and on to the field reserved for the students so they could take a picture of their offspring, something they could have done afterwards. When they were asked by the police to step off the field and go back to their seats in the stands, they ignored them and even told them to mind their own business. It was quite ugly. So much so, this year the high school sent forms to the parents stipulating the decorum they must follow. Further, the forms had to be signed by the parents and if they violated the agreement, the student’s diploma would not be presented that day. I found this a bit mind boggling. Usually, it is the students that are asked to behave properly, not the parents, but I guess the times have changed.

It wasn’t always like this of course. People practiced common courtesy, such as holding doors open for others, letting people speak, displaying good manners, dressing for the occasion, etc. Acting obnoxiously was generally frowned upon, but now it seems to be commonplace. In fact, it appears to be the expected form of conduct. Let me give you an example.

Recently, I noticed a problem with the invoice from my Internet Service Provider (ISP). I discovered we were getting double-billed on a couple of items and charged for a particular service we no longer used. When it was first brought to my attention I sent a note to my ISP representative politely asking them to correct the problem. I did this twice as I didn’t receive a reply the first time. After a few weeks, I decided to check my account on-line and lo and behold I discovered nothing had changed. Frankly, I blew a fuse. Instead of exchanging additional pleasantries, I penned a threatening e-mail to the ISP warning them to either fix the problem or we would take our business elsewhere (the actual e-mail was obviously worded more strongly). Basically, I had to lose my cool and get nasty with them. Remarkably, the problem was suddenly rectified within a few scant minutes of threatening the ISP by e-mail. The speed by which this occurred caused me to wonder why. Surely I had articulated the problem clearly in my earlier correspondence to them, a rather professional note, at least so I thought, but they didn’t act on it. Instead, they acted on an obnoxious threat.

It seems odd the only way you get action anymore is by becoming nasty with people as opposed to being courteous. Maybe the problem is that people have all learned “the squeaky wheel gets the oil,” that the only way to get action is to push your way on to the field, regardless of who gets in your way. Otherwise, you are ignored and taken for granted.

I am certainly not suggesting we should all become more crass than we already are, but it is important to recognize there will be instances where it will be necessary to become nasty, particularly when you are being ignored. There certainly is still room for civility in society, but I fear there is a general inclination to think and practice “me first” as opposed to patiently cooperating.

Somehow I am reminded of Mark Twain’s observations on how man socializes with others:

“Man is a reasoning animal, such as they claim, though I believe that’s open to dispute. I’ve been studying this ‘reasoning animal’ for years now and I find the results to be humiliating. Well for example I experimented with a cat and a dog. Taught them to be friends and put them in a cage. I introduced a rabbit and in an hour they were friends. Then I added a fox, a goose, a squirrel, some doves, a kangaroo, and finally a monkey. They lived together in peace. Well next I captured an Irish Catholic and put him in a cage and just as soon as he seemed tame I added a Presbyterian, then a Turk from Constantinople, a Methodist from the wilds of Arkansas, a Buddhist from China, and finally a Salvation Army colonel. Why when I went back there wasn’t a single specimen alive.”

Maybe society hasn’t actually changed too much since Twain’s time.

As an epilogue, this year’s High School graduation ceremonies at the football field were washed out at the last minute by rain. Instead of waiting for the rain to subside, school administrators decided it would be safer to postpone the ceremony until the following day where it would be held indoors. This didn’t sit well with the parents who blasted the principal with irate e-mails and telephone calls. Instead of a little patience and cooperation for the purpose of safety, the parents became upset simply because they were “inconvenienced.” Maybe we should have taken these parents and put them in a cage as Twain suggests. I wonder if any would survive.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


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CAPITALISTIC CRABS – Even fiddler crabs understand the basics of our economic system.

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8 Responses to “GETTING NASTY”

  1. Tim Bryce said

    An O.B. of Macon, Georgia wrote…

    “I sure hope chivalry is not dead, for if it is, I am a minority of one, Naive as I may be, kindness and affability still work for me, I have been irate to folks and I found that although I got my object accomplished, I did not feel good about it.

    This is something in which you might find a chuckle: While still working, I developed and built a wee pup-tent, a nice looking stick and tissue paper model about four inches long and two point five inche tall and on both side of it was a sign which read, “ole Blake has made a request of you and although he knows you are busy, he is patient so he will quietly camp out on your desk, When you can complete his request, he will come pick up his tent and thank you for your compliance” You would not believe how good this worked, The model was nice enough they did not want to destroy it, so they simply complied for I never asked of them an impossible task,

    It used to be said the greed controlled the world of humans, but it is not greed that is at fault,,but “selfishness” with I, me or mine being the key words. This you might like too: There is a 4×8 pegboard in my shop that is filled with items that attach or are used on model airplanes, That board has been there or in my shop for over 30 years, All who know me, have the freedom of taking anything from the board and not pay for it, then at some point in the future put something back, it need not be what you took but just an item to replace the hole on the board, That board has been overflowing almost since the day I put it there. And it is constantly changing. I love it. and so do the folks in my club especially since I am within a stone’s throw of the flying field.

    There are many ways to deal with unruly and rude people, the best way I have found is to mostly ignore them and do the right things as I was brought up to do,

    It did take over 40 of my almost 70 years to overcome that need to flare up and be nasty, now I just look at ways to teach the rudeness lessons about common courtesy, Tis more fun than getting angry. and it keep the old mind active.

    I am reminded of the principal who tried to get the girls to stop blotting their lipstick on the bathroom mirrors. She post rules, installed punishments and sent letters home to parents, and nothing worked, finally she asked all the girls to meet her in the restroom at break and she would invite Mr Jones the janitor to demonstrate how hared it was to clean the mirrors, They all met in the ladies restroom and the principal invited Mr Jones to come in and show the girls just how hard it was to clean the mirrors, and the first thing he did was to dip his squeege in the toilet and apply it to the mirrors, The school never had another lipstick problem and the lesson was learned with out accusing or pointing fingers of executing punishment. It is this type of lesson we need to throw back at the rude people, but alas that requires thinking and we would have to start training folks all over again on how to think…
    My nickels worth,,,keep up the work, I do enjoy reading you wisdom,”

    Like

  2. Tim Bryce said

    An L.M. of Chicago, Illinois wrote…

    “And all this time I thought it was just me….”

    Like

  3. Tim Bryce said

    A T.H. of El Segundo, California wrote…

    “Great article!”

    Like

  4. Tim Bryce said

    A J.S. of Skidway Lake, Michigan wrote…

    “Parental misbehavior at school functions has long been a hot button for me. I have photos of the backs of parents’ heads instead of my child at various events. I have been tempted to send them to the culprits with a note saying “Recognize this jackass?” Parents who save seats also annoy me. Okay, save two for grandma and grandpa, but not a whole row. No latecomer is more important than a parent who arrives on time.

    Common courtesy has met its demise along with its cousin, common sense. “Customer service” is almost always guaranteed to raise blood pressure. Insurance companies are especially guilty. With so many well-educated people with hot resumes seeking work, why do companies keep these rude, apathetic people?”

    Like

  5. Tim Bryce said

    A J.M. of New York wrote…

    “The parents became worse than the kids several decades ago.
    Ask anyone that ever coached, or refereed a youth sports team.”

    Like

  6. Tim Bryce said

    A J.P. of Toronto, Ontario wrote…

    “This may sound odd, but I do believe civility, respect and “politeness” are some of the deeper, less visible foundations of our democracies.”

    Like

  7. Tim Bryce said

    A K.S. of Oklahoma wrote…

    “Tim, I would suspect that Mark Twain’s experiment would have shown to be just the same.

    As for being rude & crass, it may stem from a total lack of self esteem that many people do not have. This lack of such an important characteristic may be WHY the need to “make a scene”. That way they get the recognition that THEY believe that they need. They do get recognized, but for the WRONG reason.

    BTW, the “squeeky wheel also gets replaced.”

    Like

  8. Tim Bryce said

    An L.A. of Palm Harbor, Florida wrote…

    “Perfect example of the “ME” What’s in it for “ME”….You can’t do that to “ME”….”

    Like

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