Friday, April 14, 2006

How You Treat Others Says A Lot About Your Character

When powerful people are total asses, it reflects on them, regardless of whether they notice -- or care. You'd think that this bit of common sense would not be lost on the bigwigs when they interact with the common folk. After all, isn't treat others as you would have them treat you an axiom? Somewhere along the way of becoming a bigwig however, many seem to lost the common sense that they were probably once gifted with. (One would hope that they don't all start off as complete bastards.)

In CEOs say how you treat a waiter can predict a lot about character, USA Today promulgates the adage of just being nice to people, especially those that may be perceived from our social measures of success, to be in lower stations of life. The article lectures to those rarefied business types who need to be reminded that it is the common folk efforts that makes them a success and keeps them where they are. It is a good article, that speaks to niceties that seems lost on many. It is a lesson not just for the elevated, but to all of us.

What is driving me crazy about the article however, is the need for it. That there are people who feel they are above others is known to me. I've experienced it. That those people feel the need to not just show total disregard for others, but to go out of their way to show that disregard pisses me off. Is the air up there so thin that you really do suffer brain damage? Or do you use so much perfume that you can no longer tell that your shit does actually stink? There isn't much separating the elite from the hoi polloi. The artificial constructs that keep those few towering above the rest are easily brought down. They come down on a regular basis, and once you've hit rock bottom, it's the rank and file that are there to collect your pieces. You become invisible people once you've hit the bottom.

I say my thank yous and pleases to just about everyone. I engage in idle chitchat with people who I have an interest in, regardless of whether my title artificially tries separate us. I try to engage those who provide a service to me -- be it the mail guy; the folks who pickup the garbage; the people who serve me in restaurants; and especially the people above me. I thank the woman who picks up my garbage from work every night. She does hard work, and I'm usually there late, when she comes around. I appreciate her work. I talk to the guys who deliver the mail when we're walking the hallways or riding the elevators -- just idle chitchat, because they are an important part of the team that keeps our business humming along ... they are a part of my team, and like everyone else, they do at times have interesting stories. I don't see this in many people though. For many, the rank and file are invisible people. They bustle about, unnamed, unseen and ignored, unless they crash into and interrupt the lofty.

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