The Value of “Contrast”
Have you ever noticed that daily life provides multiple opportunities to experience what Esther and Jerry Hicks call in their fine work, Getting into the Vortex, “contrast”? By this term, they mean that when others behave in ways contrary to our cherished values and principles, they (unintentionally) assist us to clarify what is right by us.
As such, one ought to be grateful for others’ “contrasting” attitudes and actions. Without such “negative” experiences, The Hicks purport, we would not nearly know ourselves as well. In other words, we need every relationship that exists around us, for everyone in our sphere constantly informs our own principles for living.
This tenet has been a theme in my writing on more than one occasion. That’s because I accept it to be fully true.
Is Courtesy Common or Uncommon?
Boy, did this pivotal point ever come home to me big-time recently!
To set just enough – but not too much context to violate confidentiality – I recently followed through on a colleague’s recommendation to advance my name for a joint venture. We were directed to contact a senior individual who carries a heavy workload.
Who of us is not busy these days, however? I sure don’t have the time to sit around and eat chocolates!
Thus, when I carved a pocket from my overwhelming schedule to pursue the lead, I expected to receive the “courtesy” of an acknowledgement. We’re not talking an essay. Just a one-liner to indicate my carefully-crafted but succinct message had been received.
In the face of expressed frustration over the lack of follow-up within my trusted network, people have generally said: “That’s just the way it is these days, Carol-Ann. Get used to it. Let it go.” Never!
For, these same individuals recite their own irritated stories about co-workers who: don’t answer their phones (when able); avoid human interaction with someone sitting in the next cubicle; hide behind email. All are supposedly “common” traits nowadays.
The Top Ten List
And, what is courtesy but “good manners, polite or kind” (Oxford Dictionary)? As we further investigate the subject, I encourage you to consider your responses to these questions on a scale from 1 (never) to 10 (always):
- When was the last time you prefaced a request with “please”?
- How often do you say “thank-you” when someone fulfills on your requests?
- Do you consciously think about your impact on the circles that surround you?
- If you’re too overwhelmed to deal with a colleague in person in the moment, do you negotiate an alternative time to do so?
- Do you contribute to endless CYA email-strings? (I think you know what this is!)
- When communicating unpopular information, do you keep others’ self-esteem intact?
- Even if you’re on deadline, do you acknowledge colleagues’ correspondence with an indication of when you’ll get back to them?
- To what degree do you follow-through with an orientation toward service?
- Are you too busy to be “nice”?
- Do you conclude that those who prefer a human touch are soft, weak or whiners?
If you’re right now thinking, I live on a different planet, I urge you to think again!
For, my recent experiences have caused me to worry (along with fellow authors, columnists and speakers) about what will happen to “common courtesy” as a result of two-thumbed and/or avoidant communication styles that somehow renders it OK to treat others with downright ignorance or rudeness. I didn’t previously; I now do.
As a consequence, here’s my very-public commitment. You have my absolute permission to call me out should these promises ever be broken:
- To make the K chapter in The Next A to Z Guide to Soul-Inspiring Leadership (in production) stand for Kindness (you can be sure I shall be making the “business case” for treating others right);
- To always make time for people – no matter how “big” I personally get;
- To never fall prey to this recent exchange between the pointy-haired boss and Alice, drawn from Scott Adams’ famed “Dilbert” cartoon. (There’s a reason Adams strikes such a familiar chord.)
Boss: I’m just stopping by to say you’re doing a great job, Alice.
Alice: You never do that! It’s a trick! Die, monster, die!
Boss (declared to Dogbert): I might have a credibility issue