During my corporate tenure, I was fortunate to work for a fantastic manager who also became my role model for the rest of my life. He had a simple philosophy in life – ‘When there is a problem, fix the problem – not the person’.
I applied his philosophy not only at work, but also in my personal life.
It seems to me that most people are nice, but only to their loved ones and not to people they don’t know well or don’t care about – and that is where the problem lies.
Not being nice to people they don’t care about need not necessarily mean being rude to people. It can also mean being indifferent as a lot of people believe if their actions do not impact them, then it shouldn’t matter.
The reality is, that it does matter.
We are in some way connected to each other. Our actions and words can have impact on others. Similarly, we are affected by what people say or don’t say or what they do to us.
Below are some fictional scenarios and their interactions with unrelated people. The names mentioned below are purely co-incidental.
- Anne Wood, who is a management consultant based in London, is a frequent flyer on her favorite airline and is travelling from London to New York to visit her daughter. On the flight she is disturbed and unable to sleep because of another passenger seated not too far from her has been crying for past few hours.
Anne complains to the air-hostess that the lady be moved to another seat as she is unable to sleep on a long haul flight. The air hostess politely speaks to the woman and finds out that she has lost her daughter who committed suicide due to depression.
When the air-hostess explained the co-passenger’s situation to Anne, her response was she did not care about the reason why she was crying and would want her moved to another seat as she has paid for the flight and will seek refund from the airline if she doesn’t get good sleep.
- Mike works as a technology project manager for a big brand retailer based in New York. He is having a conversation with his boss Dave, requesting time off for 2 weeks as is wife, Liz is hospitalized following a lung ailment. Dave refuses Mike any time off because the project he is working on is mission critical and he cannot afford a single day’s delay. Mike is disappointed, angry and frustrated as he has been loyal to his employer for many years and was hoping his request will be granted.He had ordered an artificial respiratory device, for Liz, a week ago which has yet not arrived. Mike calls the customer support center and has an heated argument with the contact center representative, Sarah, who believes his order was dispatched but she was not sure why it did not arrive the destination.
Mike, who is upset about his leave being rejected asks if he could speak to Sarah’s manager.
A month later, Sarah, who always excelled in her job, gets a poor performance review because of one customer complaint.
- Few weeks later, Sarah quits her job and goes into a shell and cuts off from her friends and even her boyfriend and also calls from recruitment agents. Her mother is on a visit to New York, but Sarah doesn’t disclose why she quit her job. Sarah sinks into deep depression and 6 months later, commits suicide.Sarah’s mother, who lives in London, is shocked to hear the news and is devastated. She couldn’t believe that her daughter who was a very lively and strong person, could ever give up her life.Sarah’s mother, Anne Wood has a lot to think about this time on her flight from London to New York.
Karma is a bitch and she comes back to haunt you.
Most people are nice, yet unaware of the consequences of their actions and how they impact others.
The sad truth of our society is that we have lost a sense of community. People restrict their kindness to only those they know, either family or friends or people they like.
We seldom make an effort to understand how another person feels. So, we have people who do not hesitate for a second in speaking few unkind words with people they really do not care about.
Respecting others is restricted to people who have power, superior or a well known celebrity. Few people believe it is perfectly okay to disrespect someone who does not have a fancy job title or financial status.
I wonder whether is it too hard to be kind to others. Maybe it is because this is something people do not learn in school or university.
This is something you learn on your own and no reputed institution exists today that will teach you kindness and how to be nice to others especially when others are not being kind to you.
I can go on…but there are few things in life that will never change.
I can only try and change myself.