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Archive for the ‘Social Issues’ Category

A NEW DIGITAL DIVIDE

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 7, 2018

BRYCE ON TECHNOLOGY

– What will be its effects?

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

I have frequently discussed the addictive powers of technology on the human personality, but something new has come to my attention which I never considered before. Whereas everyone from the Greatest Generation to the Millennials are generally aware of computers in the traditional sense, e.g.; the processing unit, screen, keyboard, mouse, etc., we now have a new generation, “Z”, which is unfamiliar with such concepts. In a recent report from Japan, the members of Generation Z, who grew up with smart phones, have no concept of basic computing, nor how to use it.

What is emerging is a new “digital divide” among the generations whereby Generation Z is losing the sense of how to use a simple keyboard and mouse. Consequently, the use of such things as spreadsheets and other programs designed around the keyboard and mouse are becoming nebulous concepts. For example, they are at a loss as to entering data or formulas into a cell in a spreadsheet.

Beyond the effective use of classic computers, you have to wonder what other effects we can expect from the excessive use of smart phones. First, we must remember the smart phone may be fine for watching videos, listening to audios, and looking at graphics and photos, but as an input device it has definite limitations. This is a situation where ergonomics has been sacrificed for the sake of miniaturization. Consequently, most of us are now content sending small text messages using a sort of shorthand. This may be fine for basic communications, but not a professional way to write letters and agreements with customers, vendors and employees. In other words, it is having an adverse effect on our ability to communicate professionally.

In the Japanese report, they claim young people have learned to write reports for school on their smart phones. This is a bit mind-boggling when you consider the small screen size. You also cannot help but wonder how much text is cut/pasted from other sources, which implies an increase in plagiarism, thereby affecting our morality. It would be nice if voice-type dictation was more effective, but it has not made significant progress over the last few decades.

Without the aid of a keyboard, I am at a loss as to how programmers will write the precise and voluminous source code for software. This might signal a slowdown in technology improvements.

Also, because of the screen size, you have to wonder about the future of books and lengthy news articles as it is unlikely people would actually read such voluminous items on smart phones.

This digital divide may also have a significant impact on education. For example, whereas the personal computer made typing classes obsolete, the smart phone may very well do the same thing to Personal Computers.

What happens though when the smart phone has run its course and a new, even smaller device, is introduced, perhaps even a chip in the brain? Will we have to simply “think” to compose a letter? If so, will we know how to effectively write for people or will it just be gibberish?

No matter what happens in the future, the days of the lengthy novel and storytelling appears to be numbered. So much for the likes of Hemingway, Poe, Clavell, Dickens, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Tolstoy, Salinger, Rowling, Kipling, Lawrence, Hardy, Twain, et al. As Margaret Mitchell would have said, they represent “A civilization…Gone with the Wind.”

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 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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Posted in Social Issues, Society, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM GENERATION Z?

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 10, 2018

BRYCE ON SOCIETY

– Are they the same as the Millennials?

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

For far too long we have belabored the strengths and weaknesses of the Millennials (aka, Generation Y), but what about their successors, Generation Z? This is the Generation born between the late 1990’s and the middle of this decade. This is a generation who is now getting ready to graduate from High School and enter college, but what can we expect from them?

Whereas the Baby Boomers were responsible for the Millennials, Generation X begat Gen Z, and hopefully they will do a better job than the Boomers who, frankly, dropped the ball along the way.

Generation Z has no recollection of Bill Clinton or the scandals surrounding him, or George W. Bush for that matter. They were also too young to truly remember 911. They primarily remember Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. More recently, they have heard about North Korea, Iran, and Cuba, but have no recollection of the events surrounding them, such as the Korean Armistice, the American hostages in Iran under President Carter, or the Cuban Missile Crisis and Bay of Pigs under President Kennedy. They have also heard of numerous terrorist attacks and school shootings. In terms of academics, they have grown up in an age of testing and technology. Just about all of them are intimate with smart phones, social media, eCommerce, and other features of the Internet, much more so than the Millennials.

In school, they have excelled in the areas of math, science, and foreign language (primarily Spanish). Unfortunately, they are weak in terms of their knowledge of government, history, and speech. Their sense of socialization is different than their predecessors, as the media has been highly influential in their lives since infancy. I am also concerned about their interest in reading as paper books, newspapers, and magazines are disappearing. They may not be too informed about current events or history, but they are perhaps the most educated generation to date.

Whereas prior generations were hungry and understood the value of a dollar and an education, it is yet unclear the priorities Generation Z possesses. The recent shootings in Parkland, Florida triggered an outburst of outrage, but it is uncertain how much of this was sincere, and how much was orchestrated by politicians. Nevertheless, it was the first such political reaction by high-schoolers since the 1970’s.

The proof in the pudding will be in November which represents the generation’s first opportunity to vote in a major American election. If the turnout is low, we will know we have produced another generation of apathetic voters, but I am not yet convinced it will turn out this way.

I have been reading there are significant differences between the Millennials and Generation Z. From what I’ve heard, Gen Z looks upon the Millennials as irresponsible and foolish. Whereas, the Millennials have shown signs of embracing liberal doctrine, Gen Z is more conservative in nature.

According to a 2015 report from Goldman Sachs, “Gen-Z is more conservative, more money-oriented, and more entrepreneurial than the millennials were.”

This was echoed by another report in 2016, “My College Options and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) today presented the results of a new national survey of approximately 50,000 ‘Generation Z’ high school students (ages 14-18) attitudes on the 2016 presidential election which found that the majority identify as Republicans – in sharp contrast to Millennials – and overall would vote for Donald Trump.”

If this is true, it is likely Generation Z will become more politically and economically influential than the Millennials.

Maybe Generation Z represents a correction in society, just as we experience in the stock market. Whereas the Millennials may have gone too far left, it appears Generation Z is turning to the right instead.

Keep the Faith!

P.S., Be sure to see my video, “The PRIDE Renewal Tour,” on YouTube.

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 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Politics, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

THE ELEMENTS OF SOCIALIZATION

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 3, 2018

BRYCE ON LIFE

– and why they are deteriorating.

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

Recently, I was waiting in line at the check-out lane of my local pharmacy. An elderly gentleman was ahead of me and moving rather slowly. He appeared to have a slight problem understanding the cashier, perhaps it was his hearing or simply his age. I sensed the clerk was becoming impatient with him as the line was beginning to grow, but instead of trying to be friendly and help him, she rushed him through the transaction in order to get rid of him. It was embarrassing for him, and I was a bit bewildered why the cashier was rude to him.

I have noted the decline of our socialization skills for quite some time, primarily pinning the blame on our addiction to technology, but I think it goes well beyond this. I may not be a social worker by training, but I do have a degree in interpersonal communications and have observed the interplay of people in business over most of my career.

It occurs to me, there are three fundamental elements to socialization: Communications, Courtesy, and Values. I find it intriguing how these elements have changed over the years.

COMMUNICATIONS – is more than our ability to use a smart phone, but rather our ability to give and take, meaning to listen or read, and speak or write. It’s not about the technology we use, which will always change, but the interplay between people. This includes being able to read and transmit body language and facial expressions.

Our powers of persuasion are ultimately based on the three canons of speech: Ethos (ethical appeal), Pathos (emotional appeal), and Logos (logical appeal). Regrettably, high school courses in speech have taken a back seat to other curriculum and, in some cases, have disappeared altogether. As a result, young people find it difficult to form arguments and appear to be content parroting what others say, such as the news media.

As a communications major, I would love to see speech classes reinvigorated, be it through classes, inter-school debates, or in-school for that matter. I would even go so far as to allow students to stand on a soapbox in a courtyard to present their ideas. People should be assessed not for just what they say, but their ability to defend their position. We must remember communications is a two-way street, not unidirectional.

COURTESY – denotes our sense of decorum, the rules for interaction. This is based on such things as respect, empathy, patience, cooperation, and common sense. However, students are being taught contempt for authority, not respect, for people such as teachers, coaches, managers, government, law enforcement, and yes, even parents. As such, there is a disregard for the other person’s point of view, not empathy. This means we prize individualism over teamwork and cooperation. The technology of today promotes instant gratification, not patience, and; thanks to our dependency on technology to do the thinking for us, common sense is no longer common. All of this tempers our thirst for knowledge, our inquisitive nature, which is now limited to only what we want to know, representing our comfort zone. In other words, we are content letting others do the thinking for us.

VALUES – represent our sense of right versus wrong, our ethics. This has been clouded over the years as we have become more tolerant and permissive of changes in our morality. Today, people naively believe it is acceptable behavior to do whatever they please, that it is somehow sanctioned by the Constitution. The truth is, this is simply not so. The Declaration of Independence claims we are endowed by our Creator “with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The Constitution and Bill of Rights details our freedoms and rights, such as the freedom of speech and religion, the right to bear arms, to be free of unreasonable search, a right to a speedy and public trial, a trial by an impartial jury, a right to confront witnesses, and more. However, there is nothing specifying a right to a job, a right to higher education, a right to become a citizen, a right to free stuff, and certainly no right to do whatever we want. Yet, this is commonly believed by people today. This is what common law is for, to specify the penalties for such things as murder, mayhem, assault, rape, robbery, disturbing the peace, etc.

We now live in a time where it is commonplace to express outrage through marches and riots, where the rhetoric is visceral, if not obnoxiously salacious and slanderous. Again, many people believe this is an acceptable form of conduct, guaranteed by the Constitution. Again, this is not so. Under the first amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people PEACEABLY to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

In other words, there is nothing wrong with gathering to march or protest. However, when it violates local ordinances, due to such things as violence, destruction of property, or the use of obscenities, then it is no longer peaceful and violators are eligible for arrest.

I have seen numerous videos on the Internet where a law enforcement officer is confronted by a passerby in the performance of his/her duty, some to the point of interference. This normally results in the arrest of not just the original person in question, but also the passerby who confronts the police, naively believing they are immune from arrest. I find it particularly humorous when the passerby is arrested, and the original suspect is set free, all because he/she felt they had the God given right to interfere with a police investigation.

So, the reasons explaining why our socialization skills are deteriorating is rather simple: Technology has had an adverse effect on our attitudes, we have not been properly trained in how to communicate or practice common courtesy, and we are misinformed as to what rights and freedoms we possess. It is no small wonder our socialization skills are being stunted. In fact, it almost seems to be premeditated.

For more information on our changing world, be sure to see my video, “The PRIDE Renewal Tour,” on YouTube.

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 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Life, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

REINVENTING THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 6, 2018

BRYCE ON LIFE

– More political correctness running amok.

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

I’m told English is the most difficult language to learn as it is chock full of colloquialisms, slang, jargon, and expletives. There is even disparity among the English speaking countries of the world, causing the famed playwright George Bernard Shaw to observe, “The United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language.”

I never truly understood why we like to reinvent the wheel every so often, but we do. Perhaps it is nothing more than naiveté but more likely it is just plain foolishness. Take for example, the recent effort at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana where a writing guide has emerged discouraging the students from using the word “Man” as it is considered to be sexist. Instead of saying “Mailman” for example, they want you to say “Mail Carrier.” Instead of “mankind” they want you to say “people” or “humanity” (which happens to have “man” hidden within it). To follow the guide properly means we have to avoid such words as “Freshman,” “Chairman,” “Gentleman,” “Craftsmanship,” “Management,” and many others.

This could also lead to some serious problems in diplomatic relations as we must change the names of countries such as Germany, Oman, and Romania to Gerpersony, Operson, and Ropersonia. I’m sure these countries will understand and follow suit. Let us also not forget Personila, the capital of the Philippines, and Kathpersondu, the capital of Nepal.

Come to think of it, all of the Latin based languages observe the masculine/feminine tense, including English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Gerperson. Instead of saying in Spanish something like, “Donde esta la Casa de Musica?” we’ll have to say, “Donde esta persona Casa de Musica?”

Instead of using the Spanish words of “el” or “la” to denote the sexual orientation of an object, we’ll have to drop the word “the” from the Spanish language, likewise for the others. I still don’t know what to do with “Hombre” as I’m sure this will offend someone. Nonetheless, this change shouldn’t affect too many people.

By the way, we can no longer refer to these various tongues as “Romance languages” as they originated from the language spoken by the Ropersons.

Recently, there have been efforts to reinvent math through the “Common Core” program, as well as rewriting American history to make us feel more guilty about ourselves, and now we are trying to reinvent the fundamental structure of the English language. I can’t wait for them to change physics whereby I’m sure they will contend, “What goes up, must be shared.”

I lectured at Purdue years ago in their business school, a fine institution. As we all know, the school’s nickname is the “Boilermakers,” a reference to the train steam boilers built there years ago. By the way, a “Boilerman” is a person who tends to boilers; I guess this will all have to be changed as well.

I don’t know why Purdue is pushing this effort, as it sounds like political correctness running amok. Purdue is also well known for agriculture and producing first-rate engineers. I just wished they would stop trying to re-engineer the English language.

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 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Life, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

IN THE WAKE OF PARKLAND

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 27, 2018

BRYCE ON SCHOOL SAFETY

– Are we attacking the symptoms of gun violence or true problems?

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

We all suffered to some degree following the shootings in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day, particularly the High school students there. Their pain is legitimate, their solution to the problem is not. Any time we have a disaster like this, the Left likes to point fingers at assault weapons, the FBI, the NRA, and their favorite target, Mr. Trump. In other words, everyone but the shooter himself. This knee-jerk reaction is obviously done for political purposes and addresses merely the symptoms, not the root problem.

Even if government banned the popular AR-15, there are many other rifles with similar capabilities, and if you were to ban them all, there are still semi-automatic shotguns which can do a lot of damage quickly, not to mention handguns. And if you were to ban all guns, there would be another weapon du jour, such as a road-side bomb, or simply a car ramming into a crowd.

Following the last Federal Assault Weapons Ban held from 1994-2004, the Department of Health and Human Services conducted a follow-up study and concluded, “the Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws reviewed for preventing violence.” In other words, the ban did nothing to reduce violent behavior.

The NRA is frequently criticized and portrayed by Democrats as the bogeyman of violence. As advocates of the Second Amendment, their support of gun safety, education, and animal conservation is conveniently overlooked. True, the NRA supports various politicians, just like many other lobbyists. Hampering their ability to make such donations should only be done with sweeping reform of all lobbyists, not just the NRA. Their vilification is just plain wrong.

There are three areas that need to be addressed:

1. Discipline & Education

The shooter in Parkland came from a broken home, which probably explains why he had trouble differentiating right from wrong. It is no secret the family unit has been deteriorating over the years. It is common for children today to be raised by a single adult who is usually overworked and too tired to manage their offspring properly, and there are others who simply abdicate their parental responsibilities and allow their children to find their own way through life, with the assistance of the Hollywood media. Not surprising, morality is on the decline in this country and shaping the character of our youth. I find it rather remarkable we do not take Hollywood to task for the wanton violence they promote.

Not surprising, I’m a proponent of teaching parenting skills as part of an adult education program, perhaps at the schools in the evenings.

Since parents appear unwilling or unable to teach proper behavior, perhaps some basic classes for the students in morality and common courtesy are in order.

Discipline and respect are in decline in schools. For example, consider this letter sent from a middle school Science teacher in Dunedin, Florida to his PTA following the Parkland incident:

“I am a science teacher here at DHMS and I wanted to share this information with you. This is the real problem; the system is broken to where we cannot do anything or exact any meaningful consequences for this type of student. This article I found today from the Miami Herald describes at least a dozen students here at our school. We write referrals, they might even get suspended for a day or two, but these ‘nightmare’ children return and terrorize our campus as soon as the consequence is served. Students that get reassigned to Pinellas Secondary School end up coming right back after a semester. The description of the student in the first paragraph (aside from bringing bullets) describes many students that never receive a consequence, or are categorized as ‘Special Education’, ‘Emotionally/Behaviorally Disabled’, and know that the school cannot do anything about their atrocious behavior. Before we attack people’s 2nd Amendment Rights, we need to attack our legislators and School Board for forcing administrators to keep these dangerous students in our schools despite their repeated warning signs of violent tendencies. Until we can enact change to report and remove these students, these tragedies will continue. I have been physically assaulted by a student this very school year, pressed charges, and the student continues to walk the hallways and brag about who all he has ‘beat up’. We spot these students early on, and dread their presence, but have absolutely no legal way to protect the rights of the rest of the population from these predators.”

As corporal punishment is no longer allowed in schools as a deterrent for misbehavior, disciplining children is next to impossible, and without it, student grades are affected. To illustrate, ten years ago I wrote about Caroline Haynes, a school principal in Great Britain who caught the attention of the press when she started to implement strict discipline in the classroom. She is with the Tendring Technology College in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, UK, a secondary school which, when translated to the American equivalent, is a private school for children ages 11-19. Her “zero tolerance” policy for misbehavior resulted in a school environment where students were freed to concentrate on their studies and, consequently, improved their grades significantly. I was told the students actually liked the discipline and preferred it over chaos. This is consistent with my contention that people tend to thrive in a structured environment which is well organized and leadership is strong, whether it is in school or in business.

There is also something to be said about implementing school dress codes to influence behavior. Such codes help to promote conformity and decorum. A local high school recently experimented with a “Professional Attire Day,” meaning the students in the business program were asked to dress up for a day. Instead of t-shirts, shorts and gym shoes, they were asked to wear suit and ties for the men, and dresses for the ladies. Remarkably, the lion’s share of students liked the change and took pride in looking their best. The students were questioned about their experience afterwards and reported they felt more positive and confident when dressed up as opposed to being dressed down. Interestingly, they appreciated the respect they received from their teachers regarding their appearance and deportment. The students comprehended the effect of a professional image, both at school and beyond. Some genuinely yearned for a better school dress code as opposed to the slovenly appearance which was currently the norm.

One last note regarding education, some time ago I wrote about my experience attending a concealed weapons class here in Florida. Other states have similar programs. In my case I was impressed with the professionalism and knowledge of the instructors, and felt this was something everyone should be exposed to. An informed public is less likely to become a victim and more likely to survive a shooting situation. Anyone who has attended such a class would probably agree, education is the key. Everyone from Middle School onward should be taught the lessons of gun safety. Even children in Elementary grades should learn some of the basics.

The only problem with these suggestions for education and discipline is they are considered socially unacceptable and, as such, will likely be spurned as opposed to embraced. Parents will probably not be inclined to learn new parenting techniques, claiming they haven’t got the time. They also tend to oppose dress codes as they see it as inhibiting the creativity of the individual, and have no appreciation for the benefits of teamwork. And gun safety classes will be perceived as promoting violence, when in reality, it is just the opposite. This means, the parents and students do not want to put forth the effort to thwart school violence through such education and hope it can be stopped through other means, such as changes in the law. The only problem here though is you cannot legislate morality.

2. Review and revise our rules for obtaining guns.

Following Parkland, there was much discussion about raising the age of a person to own a gun. The argument here is that if a person can join the military at 18 and fight for his/her country, then 18 should be the age. The one difference though is that the military provides proper instruction in the handling of firearms, something others do not receive. Again, I am a proponent of gun safety classes. If a person can be certified, such as through an NRA class, they should know how to properly handle a firearm.

The most difficult aspect to ascertain is the mental stability of the individual, which was at the heart of the problem in Parkland and other shooting scenes. Here, students, teachers, parents, and shooting instructors should be trained in terms of looking for signs of trouble and how to report a problem. Again, it’s a matter of education. In the case of the Parkland shooter, his social media was full of obnoxious references to shooting. This should have raised some red flags in the system. Unfortunately, it did not.

3. Fortification

The era of using schools as gun free zones is quickly coming to an end. Such zones embolden shooters as they realize they are soft targets. School perimeters need to be secured to eliminate unauthorized access. This was a significant problem at Parkland.

Training and arming school personnel should also be considered either using existing staff or hiring supplemental people to secure and defend the school campus.

Such measures as mentioned herein seem unimaginable to those of us who grew up in a different time when we respected our teachers, loved our school, and as such, had no need for school resource officers. But times have changed. Back in the early 1970’s you could simply go to the airport, show your ticket to your flight attendant, hop on a plane and leave. You obviously cannot do this anymore as tight security is now required. The same is true in our schools, it is a new time and we can no longer afford to operate as we did forty years ago. Our social mores and morality have changed radically, making this a much more dangerous time for those attending our schools. It is time to improvise, adapt, and overcome just as we did in our airports.

Even if you implemented all these measures, including the abolition of guns completely, you are never going to solve the problem 100%. There will always be the issue of a social misfit or radicalized person waiting for an opportunity to seek violence. It’s not about the choice of weapon, it’s about the human being. It always has been, and always will be. It is not so much about what laws, rules and regulations we enact as it is about treating human frailties and maturity. Education, discipline, and a little common sense will go much further than banning guns altogether.

Let us stop attacking the symptoms, it is time to look in the mirror and address the true problem.

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 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Education, Politics, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

WHAT OTHER FRATERNITIES CAN TEACH FREEMASONRY

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 9, 2018

BRYCE ON FREEMASONRY

– Can an old dog learn new tricks?

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

Freemasons have always been proud to boast, “We’re the original fraternity,” an acknowledgement of our roots in antiquity. Since then, many other fraternities have emerged, particularly in the nineteenth century, many of which are based on Masonic customs. Aside from college fraternities, there are the Eagles, the Elks, the Lions, the Moose, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), even the VFW shows signs of fraternal relations. These organizations may appear to be relative “upstarts” when compared to our ancient fraternity, but can they teach us anything?

As in many North America jurisdictions, Florida Freemasons are barred from enjoying alcohol in the Lodge as well as games of chance. Whenever such topics arise at a Grand Communications, the proposer is shouted down and admonished in a derogatory manner, “Why don’t you go and join someone else?” Well, I finally did just that, joined another fraternal order who allowed alcohol and games of chance in the Lodge. The identity of this particular order is immaterial for the purposes of this paper, and I suspect most are pretty much the same. I certainly haven’t turned my back on Freemasonry, but after over twenty years of watching repetition, I felt it was time to relax and enjoy the company of others over a quiet drink.

I joined the new “Order” recently as they had built a new lodge building near me and I was warmly received by the members when I requested information. As I first toured the facilities, I noted their clean and well stocked bar offering a wide variety of drinks and twelve taps for various draught beers. There were also some vending games of chance available if a member was so inclined. When I saw this, I thought back to a time when Masons argued over the virtues of alcohol and games in Lodge and why there was a concerted effort to prohibit it. Personally, I suspected the Shrine didn’t want the Craft Lodges to have it as it would represent a competitor to their venue. Nevertheless…

I found the Order’s dues and initiation fees to be affordable, much more so than any Masonic Lodge in my area. This was likely due to the revenues generated from alcohol, games, and renting of facilities. In other words, membership in the Order was not a financial burden as found in many Masonic Lodges today.

The application process and initiation ceremony were highly compatible to that found in Freemasonry. This led me to suspect such orders are based on Freemasonry as the comparisons were uncanny. For example, on the Order’s application, they claimed to be looking for men (and women) of good moral character; you couldn’t join unless you believed in the existence of a Supreme Being, were of 21 years of age or older, not connected in any way to the Communist Party, did not believe in or advocate the overthrow of the government of this country by force or violence, nor was a convicted felon or registered sex offender. A criminal background check is performed on each candidate, who is also investigated by committee. Sound familiar?

The Order also donates millions of dollars to charity, a living community village (Home) is available for seniors, all of which are also familiar to Freemasons. Beyond this though, the Order offers discounts on insurance, travel, office supplies, and more. In other words, membership has its privileges. The Order is open to both men and women, which would be alarming to most Masons, and there are no racial restrictions; e.g., no “Prince” Orders.

The first year’s membership is free for members of the military, law enforcement, and first responders, both current and retired (veterans). I thought this was a brilliant maneuver as it encourages membership and attracts the type of people they want to join their ranks. Freemasonry would be wise to study this further.

In meetings, the Order has jewels for the officers to wear. There are also do-guards and signs to observe. The obligation (oath) is reminiscent of that offered by Freemasonry along with a brief lecture to explain member responsibilities. Interestingly, I observed our initiation could be viewed by the outside world through the windows in the room. So much for being a “secret” society.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the Order and Freemasonry resides in its Constitution, a copy of which is provided to members following initiation. Whereas Freemasonry is managed on a state by state basis (or by province or territory in Canada), the Order is run on an international basis from a single headquarters. This simplifies standards and promotes consistency between Lodges. It also means the government of the Order is flatter and more flexible to implement change.

Grand Masonic Lodges were first established in the early 1700’s, way before the advent of the U.S. Constitution. Consequently, the government of the fraternity is essentially based on the monarchy model. However, as these other orders were introduced in the United States during the late 1800’s, they tend to adhere to the concept of three separate but equal branches of government; e.g., executive, legislative, and judicial. Such an approach prohibits one person from having ultimate authority in interpreting the laws, rules and regulations which may vary depending on who is in office. It also causes a legislative body to be formed from the current and past presidents of the Orders.

CONCLUSION

I am certainly not suggesting one fraternal group is better than another; each has its own distinct set of interests and method of implementation. However, one could certainly learn from the others. For example, what the Order lacks in terms of decorum, they make up for in socialization. Conversely, what Freemasons lack in socialization, they make up for in decorum. Freemasons possess a stronger sense of history, and attention to detail in its ceremonies, thereby attempting to teach character, e.g., morality, love of God and country, honor, sacrifice, etc. By doing so they are trying to assist their members in the building of character. The other orders are much less formal, but still endeavor to promote character and Brotherhood through the help and society of others.

In contrast, the Order has been successful in:

– Generating money from alcoholic libations with no adverse effects (swearing, fighting and intemperance are not tolerated and may result in penalties or suspensions for members). Further, rooms can be rented for parties and special events.

– Negotiating benefits for its members, such as providing discounts on insurance, travel, office supplies, etc.

– Attracting new members with the type of character they desire, both men and women.

One could argue Freemasonry has slowly been evolving from a true fraternity to just another men’s club. They may be more solemn in their ceremonies, but surely they are not naive to believe they have a monopoly on the concept of brotherhood.

When I recently joined the Order, my initiation class consisted of 22 people, including both men and women, which is more than double what a single Masonic Lodge in my area may get in a single year. Two weeks earlier, another 22 people were initiated, and 60 people joined in December. Not surprising, the Order is financially sound, their activities are booming, their future looks rosy, and everyone appears to be happy.

Freemasonry is missing the boat if they dismiss the other orders out of hand. They are gaining in stature while the Masons are declining. I am not suggesting the Masons totally abdicate their current mission, but there is no denying their membership has been diminishing at an alarming rate. Something needs to change before the Lodges close their doors permanently. Perhaps a new hybrid organization needs to be conceived, whereby alcohol and games of chance are allowed following a meeting or degree, that the Grand Lodge seeks supplemental benefits for its membership, or that they also try to attract the right types of people to their organization. If the other orders can do it, why not the Masons?

Freemasonry may be much older, but these younger fraternities have grown up and appear to be prospering. What do they know that we do not? I for one, am not too shy to ask. In the meantime, more people are gravitating to these new orders while turning their backs on Freemasonry. Perhaps this is a sign of our changing social values. Let us not close our eyes, ears, and mouths and hope nobody notices. It’s much too late for that.

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 40 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 © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

LAST TIME:  DEFENDING THE AMERICAN EXPERIMENT  – Is it worth fighting for?

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THE UGLY TRUTH ABOUT AMERICA

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 10, 2018

BRYCE ON SOCIETY

– What most of us already know, but don’t want to admit.

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As you get older, you discover there are fewer shades of gray in life. As you gain experience, you tend to see things more in terms of black-and-white. You now possess an appreciation of what works and what doesn’t, which is why people ask for your advice. Some would say you become less tolerant of others but the truth is you’ve simply been down that road before and don’t want to revisit it. From this, you learn the subtle truths of how the world works.

The United States is a beautiful concept; the land of opportunity founded as a Constitutional Republic. I have been fortunate to see many different systems around the world, but I believe we have it better than just about everyone else. However, we are not without faults, ugly truths about who we are and how we operate. It’s what makes us tick and provides insight into the American psyche.

What follows is what I refer to as the ugly truth of America; things we all know are true but don’t want to admit. Consequently, we have learned to accept them and adapted our lives accordingly.

1. Yes, Americans are not really happy with their lives. I tend to believe this is caused by the tension we are under, both financially and politically. Norway is considered the happiest country on the planet. The USA isn’t even in the Top 10; currently we are at #14, having dropped one point from 2016. Americans seem to be most happy when they score a personal victory, not necessarily as a team. For example, an individual will relish a job promotion even if the company is struggling to survive. Strange. As an aside, I didn’t see too many smiles during the recent holidays. Shoppers all seemed to be resigned to their fate and wore sour pusses on their faces. If you happen to greet someone pleasantly they typically look at you suspiciously.

2. Yes, there is a privileged class in America. As much as we would like to believe the law serves everyone equally, this is simply not true. Money and celebrity buys influence in this country and puts people above the law, if for no other reason they can purchase the finest legal minds in the country. Rarely are such people jailed. This also means America is a politically charged nation where advancement is based not necessarily on performance, but who you know and how you know them. We see this in companies, both commercial and nonprofit, as well as in government.

3. Yes, America embraces a drug culture. The country recently recognized opioid drugs as bad, but we somehow see no connection to marijuana. The reality is, America wants to remain high all the time and, as such, is the #1 consumer of drugs. To prove it, see how far you get trying to recall legislation regarding recreational or medicinal marijuana in this country.

4. Yes, Americans are addicted to technology. Even though it stunts our maturation process and empathy for others, our sense of humor and communication skills, and our ability to socialize, Americans cannot live without their personal technology. Then again, neither can most of the world.

5. Yes, Americans are historically ignorant. When you compare the USA to other countries, Americans are grossly in the dark regarding the past. This leads to misunderstandings regarding the principles of government (the Electoral College is an excellent example), and dooms us to commit prior mistakes repetitiously. It’s interesting, in an age where technology affords us 24/7 news and info, most millennials are ignorant of our past and how their country works. As the famed American historian David McCullough observed, “We are raising a generation that is historically illiterate and have a very sketchy, thin knowledge of the system on which our entire civilization is based on. It is regrettable and dangerous.”

6. Yes, the American public is sheeple. Most use limited brainpower in their daily affairs and, as such, are weak willed and can be easily manipulated by the media. This is likely related to their addiction to drugs and technology. Due to changing values, Americans today lack common sense. They do not want to know the truth, preferring instead only the news and information corresponding to their way of thinking. This is to be expected as the media is unable to offer the American people factual news, only spin.

7. Yes, the system is fixed. Donald Trump hit a hot button when he first brought this subject up in the 2016 election, but it is found not just in politics, but in just about everything else; e.g., job progression in companies and nonprofits. This explains why there are so many suck-ups in the land. Americans have been taught to lie and cheat at all costs to attain goals. Instead of living in a “win-win” environment whereby both parties can achieve prosperity together, we now live in an age of “win-lose” meaning we can only win at the cost of the other party losing.

8. Yes, Americans are reactionaries, not pro-active planners. We prefer allowing our opponents to knock us down before we are stirred to action. There are many examples to illustrate the point, e.g., Hurricane Katrina, Pearl Harbor, 911, the USS Maine, etc. This is a severe weakness we possess, something the rest of the world is cognizant of.

9. Yes, programmers control everything, be it our televisions, automobiles, communication devices, business equipment, etc. But know this, programmers will only do what is best for them, not the end-user. What is intuitive to the programmer is not so for the rest of us. Most useful tools are designed by accident, not on purpose. As such, they control the mindware of the public.

10. Yes, most Americans do not know how to drive. The USA is #1 in terms of automobile accidents, head-and-shoulders above everyone else. Because of self-absorption, we are preoccupied doing everything else other than driving cars in an alert manner; e.g., People texting and talking on the phone, eating, doing drugs or drinking, applying makeup, etc. Electric cars will likely cure this over time, another sign we are losing our freedom and independence.

11. Yes, American morality is in decline, representing a sign of decay to our culture. For example, loyalty is in decline and can be purchased by the highest bidder. Interest in organized religion and patriotism are also in decline. We also tend to lack empathy for others and consequently are self-absorbed. Our sense of right-and-wrong is split along political ideologies, thereby denoting the true division in the country.

One thing we are not is a nation of racists. We are a melting pot of people living in a highly competitive society. I cannot think of another country with as many different types of cultures, a true heterogeneous society where each group tries to outperform the others. Some respond positively to competition, others do not. I do not believe we are devoid of racism completely, it is inevitable in a mixed racial society, but there are probably more racists outside of the United States today than there are inside. I find the use of the “racist” label in America today is more of a diversionary tactic for political purposes as opposed to possessing any true substance.

Some will say America is a land where you cannot win. This is simply not true as the Constitution was deliberately designed to provide the individual with certain unalienable rights, particularly opportunity, yet there are no guarantees for success. This is the bedrock of capitalism.

Some will also accuse me of being a pessimist in my assessment of the United States, but I am not, as Twain would suggest, I am an optimist who hasn’t arrived yet.

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 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  CRAFTSMANSHIP: THE MEANING OF LIFE – It is universally applicable to any line of work.

LAST TIME:  INDIVIDUALISM VS. TEAMWORK  – “There is more to building a team than buying new uniforms.” – Bryce’s Law

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THE AMERICAN CULTURAL REVOLUTION OF 2017

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 27, 2017

BRYCE ON SOCIETY

– It wasn’t Trump, it was our changing values.

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As 2017 comes to an end, the country still finds itself in the grips of political polarization, perhaps more so than under President Barack Obama. However, is this truly caused by politics, or is it cultural in nature? I tend to believe it is the latter and not the former. Allow me to explain…

Comparisons of today to the ideological differences leading up to the Civil War are uncanny. The rhetoric was highly visceral for several years prior to the start of the war. The founding fathers realized a confrontation over slavery was inevitable even when the Declaration of Independence was signed. Wrangling over the issue went on for years, until the South finally broke away from the Union. This conflict was ultimately cultural in nature; whereas the North saw slavery along the lines of the immortal declaration, “All men are created equal,” the South perceived it as an issue pertaining to property. The two perspectives were simply incompatible and could not be peacefully resolved.

Today, we suffer from two distinctly different interpretations of America, a liberal or “progressive” perspective touted by the Democrats, and a more conservative version as expressed by the Republicans. So how did we find our way here, and is President Donald Trump truly to blame?

Prior to Trump, the Democrats held both the Congress and the Presidency. During this time, they pressed a social agenda highlighted by the iconic Obamacare which was implemented without any thought of Republican input. Had health care been implemented properly, such as through the development of a feasibility study, both sides would have supplied input and we might have had something we all would have been proud of. Of course, this never happened as the administration jammed it through Congress, thereby creating a split between legislators and the executive branch. More importantly, this split ultimately cost Democrats control over both chambers of the Congress.

The president, unable to overcome differences with the Republicans, implemented a series of executive orders aimed at forging a new social doctrine. These were only temporary as a succeeding president could easily undo them, as Mr. Trump has demonstrated.

So many liberal programs were enacted by Mr. Obama, the thinking and morality of the country began to change. To demonstrate, this past May, the Gallup organization reported on the changes in attitudes in their annual report on morality stating, “Americans continue to express an increasingly liberal outlook on what is morally acceptable, as their views on 10 of 19 moral issues that Gallup measures are the most left-leaning or permissive they have been to date.” This is significant as it demonstrates the country’s conflicting values.

This change in the American personality, along with a lethargic economy, did not sit well with middle class Americans, nor did the perception the Capitol is being run by professional politicians and the press. Consequently, Donald Trump was swept into office in 2016, much to the surprise of Democrats and the media. From this perspective, just as Jimmy Carter begat Ronald Reagan as president in 1980, Barack Obama begat Donald Trump.

The fact an outsider such as Mr. Trump was elected president, someone perceived as the political opposite of an insider like Hillary Clinton, was unbearable to the Democratic psyche. Consequently, the Democrats portrayed him as evil and incompetent, and pledged to “resist” the new President. Whereas most presidents are afforded a grace period at the start of their term, this was not the case with Mr. Trump. The Democrats held up approval of cabinet and judicial appointments, fought passage of tax reform and repeal of Obamacare, and tried to embarrass the president at every opportunity, even going so far as to call for his impeachment and describing him as “mentally unfit.” They implemented a full-court press whereby if he said “black,” they would say “white” and vice versa. Recognizing this, the Republicans excluded the Democrats from major legislation, just as the Democrats did to the Republicans during the passage of Obamacare. This action should not be construed as justifiable, as much as it demonstrates the intense distrust between the two sides.

In the private sector, liberals became organized and launched several marches and protests in defiance of Mr. Trump, many suggesting violence, as was evidenced by the rise of Antifa, a group of self-proclaimed anarchists and communists. During this time, free-speech under the 1st Amendment came under fire, with the left trying to squelch a person’s right for discussing opposing views, particularly on college campuses.

The news media appears to have embraced the dogma of the left and attacks Mr. Trump unmercifully, right or wrong, over the slightest action or decision. Their message is clear, “The president is wrong,” a theme trumpeted over-and-over again on a daily basis. Not surprising, he is not afforded credit for anything positive he has done.

On the other hand, Donald Trump appears to be undeterred by his critics, both Democratic and the press, and takes pleasure in challenging them. By doing so, he has assumed an unanticipated offensive posture in dealing with them, something he is openly lauded for by his supporters. This is in sharp contrast to previous Republican presidents who assumed a defensive posture. His defiance further enrages the liberals who, in turn, contends the administration is corrupt and insists on investigations which, to date, have produced nothing of substance.

What we have witnessed thus far, is not so much political as it is a cultural revolution. During the Obama years, the left made several in-roads in line with their ideology. Now that the right is in charge, they are undoing much of Mr. Obama’s policies and implementing new programs in line with the ideology of the right. To many, this is seen as a “righting of the ship.” Regardless, the country has two distinctly different and incompatible interpretations of the American dream, and the days of finding moderate solutions are long gone.

The difference between the two are numerous and include everything from the size and control of government, the rights of the individual, adherence to the Constitution, different interpretations of right and wrong, to socioeconomic policies (e.g., Socialism vs. Capitalism). They simply possess two separate and incompatible agendas, and this will continue until one side or the other is broken, which implies a vicious political campaign in 2018. The Democrats are cognizant of the fact their future is in doubt should they lose in the mid-term elections. This explains why they desperately resist Mr. Trump and the Republicans.

A strong “anti” reaction is commonplace whenever a new system is introduced. Even Machiavelli in 1513 observed (in “The Prince”), “It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in those who would gain by the new ones.”

Should President Trump be successful in his initiatives during his first term, he will easily be elected to a second. However, by doing so, it spells the end of the liberal agenda as we know it today and the Democrats will need to redefine their policies and priorities or face extinction. There are some Democratic congressmen who already recognize this and are awaiting for the grip of the liberal left, which controls the party, to loosen.

As long as we have two distinctly separate and incompatible interpretations of America, we will either continue to suffer from gridlock in our Capitol or experience violent confrontations. It is inevitable. However, the silent majority of Americans will not accept revolution and prefer leaving the basic tenets of the country alone and seek prosperity through opportunity and work. They want to return to what they perceive as “normalcy” in the country.

True, 2017 will be remembered as the first year of the Trump administration, but it should be more aptly defined as the beginning of the cultural revolution in the United States.

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 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

LAST TIME:  2017 YEAR-END WRAP-UP  – Sounds like an innocent question, but do we have a consensus understanding?

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STUNTING THE MALE MATURATION PROCESS

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 19, 2017

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Is it being driven by technology?

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I have described the adverse effects of technology on numerous occasions, such as its addictive powers and effect on the human brain. However, something recently occurred which causes me to believe it also affects the maturation process, most notably in males.

I recently visited a hospital for some tests (nothing serious, just routine). While sitting in a waiting room, I happened to meet three black ladies who happened to be talking about football. Their personas and banter reminded me of “Diamond and Silk” of Trump fame, who all seemed to be of one mind and possessed an acute case of common sense.

I happened to join their conversation and we discussed everything from high school football, to college, and the NFL. I found their candor refreshing. As Floridians, they were well versed in college football in our state, including Miami’s recent loss to Clemson. We discussed the pros and cons of the college playoffs and who we thought would win the national championship, but they were also keenly aware of the need for effective coaching, both on and off the field. One of them made the observation that college players were often supervised by the coaching staff and disciplined accordingly, but in the pros there were no mentors or supervisors to keep these young men in check, which explains why it is easy for them to get into trouble. The other ladies agreed.

I happened to mention my recent essay, “Understanding the NFL’s Problems,” whereby I noted the players unpatriotic conduct and how they are prone to get into trouble. They agreed with my observations and were frustrated the players were acting immaturely.

Afterwards, I thought about their comments carefully and considered why this phenomenon with young men is occurring. We always knew women tended to mature faster than men, but it appears men are becoming slower in the maturation process. For example, studies show they are less inclined to marry and remain at home longer as opposed to just a couple of decades ago. Men at this age also have trouble managing their money. “Sports Illustrated” performed an analysis of spending habits of NFL players and found 78% of them are bankrupt, or nearly so, just two years after their athletic careers are over. As they break into the league, most go on an insatiable spending spree and develop financial habits which haunts them later on.

To top it off, it appears men are more inclined to become addicted to personal technology than women, not just via computers and phones, but through game consoles as well. This then begs the question, “Does technology stunt the male maturation process?”

Although there is considerable evidence to indicate it does, there is no concrete proof. However, years ago, when a man completed college or a stint in the military, it was assumed they were mature enough to leave home and lead a productive life independently. However, business managers today are spending more time with young people mentoring them and performing what I call “Parenting Management.” In other words, teaching them what their parents failed to do by performing the role of guidance counselor.

All of this explains why the ladies I talked to regarding football are right, the players need to be supervised to keep them out of trouble. Unfortunately, the young men are not mature enough to make proper decisions for themselves. By failing to offer them guidance, morality suffers, not just by the players, but by the younger people who want to emulate them. This is a major failure by the NFL which needs to be addressed.

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 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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NEXT UP:  WHAT IS BUSINESS? – Sounds like an innocent question, but do we have a consensus understanding?

LAST TIME:  WHERE DOES YOUR TIME GO?  – How it adds up.

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Posted in Life, Social Issues, Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

COMMON COURTESY

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 11, 2017

BRYCE ON LIFE

– A simple form of communications which reflects our character.

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I recently discussed the four basic types of personalities; A, B, C and D. In addition to the different personality types, we as humans have a wide variety of interests and non-interests (“turnoffs”), as well as highs and lows. As such, it is impossible to know precisely how to properly relate to everyone in every situation all of the time. The common leveler is common courtesy. By this I most definitely am not referring to “political correctness” which is concerned with pseudo-courtesy for political purposes. Instead, common courtesy represents a genuine respect for the human spirit and how we should interact. This is much more than just saying “please” and “thank you,” it’s treating others as we want others to treat us.

Each day we transmit a series of messages which communicate how we regard others. This is done either verbally or through other means affecting our senses. These messages can either be perceived as positive or negative. For example, someone who dresses or smells badly is sending a message that he has no regard for the others around him, as does foul habits such as belching or flatulence. Conversely, good grooming means you care how people perceive you. Other positive messages are conveyed through such things as greetings and handshakes, punctuality, and simple manners. Common courtesy, therefore, is concerned with sending positive messages as opposed to negative. It also means our ability to practice common courtesy is a reflection of our character and how we want other people to treat us.

Introductions, Handshakes & Greetings

In Japan, an introduction in a business setting is very important. In addition to identifying yourself, it establishes your professional image, and the superior/subordinate relationship for the two parties to assume (the “pecking order”). Consequently, the Japanese practice introductions carefully, particularly how a business card is presented, as they realize its importance. In contrast, people in the western world have a much more cavalier attitude towards introductions. Nonetheless, the introduction is every bit as important and sends signals as to how we perceive each other.

A lot of people underestimate the importance of a handshake. Actually it is the single most important message we can convey in an introduction. Some people like to give a strong vice grip handshake in an attempt to intimidate you, but most handshakes today by young people are weak and flabby. Actually you need to find a good balance, not too flabby and not too strong. Further, look the other person square in the eyes when you shake hands, this conveys your sincerity in meeting the person. Do not trust anyone who simply shakes your hand but doesn’t look you in the eyes; they simply do not care about you.

Shaking hands has historically been a very masculine custom, but this has changed in recent times. However, men still question the appropriateness of shaking a woman’s hand. Because of this, it is the woman’s responsibility to offer her hand. If she does not offer her hand, do not reach for it as she may feel uncomfortable doing so.

Upon meeting someone for the first time, be careful about using the other person’s first name or nickname as this may be reserved for the person’s friends and family. Use “Mister”, “Ms”, “Mrs” or “Miss” depending on how you were introduced and allow them to say, “Please call me Joe.” But if by chance you ask, “May I call you Joe?” Don’t be surprised if someone says, “No.” In other words, do not risk embarrassment, let the other person make the offer to use their first name or nickname. And please, whatever you do, do not call the other person “Dude,” this should have gotten out of your vernacular after graduating from High School.

It is also a good practice to memorize the other person’s name, particularly when a business card is unavailable. Nothing is more embarrassing in a business relationship to both parties than to forget a name. Write it down if you cannot remember it.

It is a good practice to greet your boss and coworkers on a daily basis when reporting to work (as well as saying your farewell at the end of the day). Nobody wants to feel unwelcome or unappreciated. If they do, they will feel like outcasts and less likely to help you with something. The objective is to make people feel at home. This can be accomplished with a simple greeting such as “Good morning” or “How are you?” It is easy to detect when a greeting is sincere or routine. Your goal is to appear genuinely concerned about the person. This can be achieved by:

* Complimenting on some personal attribute of the person (e.g., clothes, hair, car).

* Inquiring about a person’s family (e.g., birthday observed, anniversary, graduation, pets, health, etc.).

* Asking about an event the person recently experienced (e.g., attendance at an event, a trip, participation in a volunteer organization/charity, a new job or project assignment, etc.).

* Commenting on something newsworthy – community, sports, weather (“What did you think about…?”).

Such greetings are an expression of your interest in the person. Too often greetings become routine and, as such, less credible. Try to break it up.

A good basic greeting can work wonders in building cooperation and relations between people.

Attention to Detail

Small details can have a dramatic effect in your relationship with others. For example:

* Be observant – if there is anything constant in life, it is change. Change is always around us, but it takes a perceptive person to be able to spot the smallest of changes, whether it be a new hair style, someone losing weight, a small job well done, or whatever. When a change is observed, ask yourself why it has happened. Be inquisitive and understand the rationale for the change. This will help you adapt to the change as well as improve your interpersonal relations. For example, people are easily flattered when someone compliments them on a change. It means you are perceptive and interested in the person, both of which puts you in good standing with the other person.

It is these little observations that go a long way. As an example, perhaps the best secretary I ever met was a lady named Myrna who worked for an I.T. Director in Chicago. The first time I visited the office, Myrna warmly greeted me and asked if I wanted a cup of coffee. Saying Yes, she then asked me what I wanted in it. I said cream and sugar, which she then made for me. Months later when I returned to visit the Director, Myrna greeted me by name and presented me with a cup of coffee with cream and sugar. Frankly, I was startled she not only remembered my name but how I also liked my coffee. Later I discovered Myrna maintained a simple card file; whenever someone visited the office, Myrna would record their name and the type of coffee they liked. Sharp. Very sharp.

First published: September 14, 2007

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 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

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