Yes, I’m probably guilty of them as well, and another dozen even worse.
But, I’m done!
In the past month, I’ve been pelted with bad behavior from all directions.
Failure to communicate
This tops my list. I grew up in a family of professional communicators — writers and film-makers and TV folk — who rarely-to-never told me much I needed to know. Like, how to drive or balance a checkbook or the fact our house had been sold and I had to move out within weeks, during college mid-term exams.
So this pattern of behavior, which also seems specifically and annoyingly Canadian, makes me crazy. I can’t get on with my life and make decisions, from when to book a flight to how much to budget this month, without data. It makes me feel powerless and that’s not a happy place.
When I ask someone for help, advice, an answer, a recommendation, a reference, a contact — anything! –– do me the basic courtesy of giving me an answer. Before the next milennium.
The reply might be: “I don’t know” or “I don’t want to” or “I can’t.”
Or “I’m just too busy right now” or “I don’t have the answers yet.”
But pick up that phone and send that email. Don’t leave someone just hanging who clearly needs to know something, sooner rather than later.
If you’re ambivalent, make a decision. If you’re terrified of confrontation, do it by email. But do it.
I was only slapped twice in my life by my parents, once by my Dad and once by my Mom, both times because I lied. I still remember each incident vividly and it made abundantly clear to me that lying is not an option.
Telling someone something you know for certain is not true can set into motion, as it often does and is intended to, an entire domino chain of consequences, most of which — you know — will be lousy for that person. Don’t do it.
Ditto. I’m a straightforward person. I can only run my life efficiently, safely and happily if I know what’s really going on, not some wallpapered version you’re feeding me. Deception really means you’re happy manipulating me to your own ends. You’re really OK with that?
Ugh. I live in a northern suburb of New York City, where entitlement is like oxygen — everywhere, invisible and taken utterly for granted. Size 00 women drive $80,000 cars, live in 10,000 square foot mansions paid for by largely invisible husbands working 100-hour weeks. Yet their hyper-tutored SAT-prepped children are often such little social savages my gynecologist had to draw up a two-page single-space contract (!) explaining how they must behave in her office.
In my retail job, the subject of my forthcoming book, “Malled” My Unintentional Career in Retail” I discuss the egregious attitudes of the hedge fund crowd who shopped in our store. We, as low-wage, low-level associates, were nothing more than that hour’s peon to them. In an era of growing, stunning income inequality, this gets old.
Just because you have a lot of money, right now, doesn’t mean you’re smarter/better/kinder/wiser than anyone else on this planet. It just means you have more money. Get over yourself.
I recently re-connected, after a decade’s silence, with someone who had once been a fairly close friend. The next day, she asked for a favor on behalf of a friend of hers. Then asked again. You know, if I’ve been that invisible and unimportant to your life for ten years, it can wait.
Whatever feels reallyreallyreally urgent to us may barely register on someone else’s radar. I was shocked into this a few days ago when I called a dear friend, who’d been uncommunicative in response to a request, and discovered that his father had suddenly fallen ill and died.
When people don’t respond at once, (if they are typically courteous enough to communicate with you), there’s probably a really good reason. Their urgency outweighs yours.
Not acceptable. Ever.
This is, no doubt, due to my own upbringing in a WASP, Canadian family.
Feelings? Outwardly expressed?
I think not!
But seriously, there are very few situations that really allow room for wailing, weeping, the gnashing of teeth and the (public at least) rending of garments. Your inability to find a parking space or get a pedicure appointment or gaining 3.5 pounds are not in this category.
Hold it together — using whatever means necessary (yoga, prayer, Xanax, martinis) — and your calm, grace and class will always elicit much more help, kindness and action from others around you than hand-flapping and hysteria.
Everyone’s got something crappy happening in their life, too. It might be whole lot worse than yours, but they’re not whining about it.
What are some of the behaviors around you these days driving you mad?