Thursday Morning Ramblings

Today’s blog is about respect and common courtesy.  In the words of Vince Lombardi, “What the hell is going on out there?”  Is it just me or does it seem like simple, basic rules of etiquette are relics of the past?  Yesterday, I was treated in the most disrespectful, condescending manner of my life, and while I somehow managed to maintain my composure and not blow up in response, I was so angry after we hung up the phone that it took me a good ten minutes to compose myself enough to enter the classroom.  I was so angry I was literally crying, that kind of angry.

It’s one thing to have a difference of opinion or to have to tell someone something disappointing.  Hell, I have to do it every semester in school with failing students, but there is no excuse for being condescending and pompous in the process.  There’s no reason for arrogance and dismissiveness.   Tone of voice and word choice are important, and in professional arenas, it’s not unreasonable to expect a person to behave as a professional.  Part of professionalism is showing respect to customers and clients, no matter the circumstances.  Respect doesn’t mean ass-kissing.  It means showing consideration for and recognizing the other person’s rights as an individual.

I wrote the other day about Coach Brumley Greene humiliating me during a scrimmage, but I can also tell you that off the field that man has always treated me with utmost respect.  There’s a clear difference between a coach trying to motivate a player and a customer service provider showing contempt for a customer.  Have we just lost this concept in our society?  Am I a dinosaur who needs to adapt to the new norms of our culture?  I don’t know anymore, but what I do know is that what happened to me yesterday is not an isolated incident, and I’m not the only one who has noticed an erosion of etiquette in our society.

Please, share your own experiences or opinions on this subject.  I’m curious to know what you think.

3 thoughts on “Thursday Morning Ramblings”

  1. Somehow, this has become quite a common story today. With all the discussion on connecting with the customer and the power of the customer being discussed on forums, real life is not reflecting that experience. Hopefully, things will change…

  2. Hi D,

    It speaks to our societal norms which are undergoing a marked change. It is not your imagination, this generation in particular, does not place a great value on etiquette. I like to believe it is more the fault of media than parenting but the truth is that both are likely to blame. I am not sure why the rise of individualism equates to a lessening of respect for others but clearly it does.

    Much the same way that folks can no longer dress. The death of elegance and all that :(. But I digress, we really didn’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater and completely reinvent the wheel but it seems that’s where we are headed. They call that PROGRESS. Right. I also wonder if this is more of an American problem…

  3. I give blame for the obvious lack of respect to two things: the media (both mainstream and blogosphere) that have elevated oddball behavior and disrespect for adults to a new high (or low, depending on your perspective, I suppose) and the increasingly-partisan and my-groups-versus-your-group fracturing of American society.

    There was a time when Democrats and Republicans could work together without so much rancor and gamesmanship; there was time when Christians and Jews could work together to help the community and show their common decency, rather than focus on culture wars and politics.

    The internet has helped people find their niches of like-minded people; this has further fragmented us as a society.

    The television & other electronic media have made much $$ and boosted their viewership / page views on showing us things that shocked us and kept right on showing them long after the shock wore off, until now they are the norm; and new shocks keep going through that process.

    How do you respect people whose pants are below their butts ? Or consider a female a “lady” when she is dressed like a hooker — at 14? How do you even have a conversation with someone when the only version of English they can speak is so cliche-riddled and meaningless as to convey almost nothing?

    Respect has to begin with respect for adults and the wisdom that comes with experience. Corporations have been so busy for the past several decades unloading anyone with experience just to reduce their payroll that even kids have come to believe the short-sighted ways of the CEOs make sense and that their parents really are worthless.

    I keep thinking of England after all its civil wars and how a small and discredited fraternity (Freemasonry) was recreated, reimagined and redesigned to teach morality and ethics and proper behavior to those coming into power and those already in power. Crime was driven down as the examples set by these good men were adopted as the norm and copied by the young.

    Within the USA, the highpoint of fraternalism was the early 1900s, when new fraternities were being formed almost every week. The Shrine and the Grotto and many others trace their birth to that era. During the Civil War here and again during WWII, membership in Freemasonry grew by huge bounds, imparting the lessons of morality and proper behavior taught in the lodge to its members, who then took those back out into the community and gave us the good times that followed.

    Other than right-wing churches, which tend to teach their members how to be polarized culture warriors, not respectful participants in the diverse society that is modern day America, voluntary organizations have been dropping in membership in gross numbers and in percentage of the population since the 60s. Fraternities are just part of that overall decline, but they are an especially important part, as they were the social glue that helped hold the civilization together by being an intermediary structure between common man and government. Religions polarize and fragment us into denominations within specific faiths; fraternities give us reasons to work together across those lines.

    Okay, that turned out to be a longer rant than I intended (grin) — and I did not even get into the usual suspects of rural to urban transition, working women, cultural changes brought on by radio then tv, the growth of Islam in the USA, the influx of non-English-speaking immigrants, etc.

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