Hearts, Butterflies, and Social Skills


This topic has been on my mind for a while.  I’d been planning on writing an article titled “Please, Thank-you, and a Smile” next month where I focused on their value.  One might say that the stars have aligned today – or in this case the behaviors have been out of line – and this one emerged instead.  

1141829_heart_butterflyI’ll apologize in advance if this sounds like a bit of a rant and lengthier than usual.  I’ll ask you to be gracious enough to bear with me.  I won’t be offended if you skip through The Rant to look at the Tipping Point, Thoughts to Ponder, Bottom line, and Background.  Each section could probably have been it’s own article.  My objective is to leave you with things to ponder.  My hope that you find things of value to think about and to help you along life’s journey.

I’d also like to thank you in advance for listening.  Really, Thank You!  I do mean that.  Sometimes the value we provide to others is simply just listening to them as they express their feelings, emotions, and opinions. 

The rant…

Has anyone else out there noticed that social skills, politeness, and basic good manners seem to be slipping?  I really don’t think it’s just my perception being skewed.  I’ve been observing this both in-person and on-line for quite a while.  If customer interactions are so important to a business, why do they often seem unimportant to the “front line” of individuals who interact with the customers?  I’ve been pondering what drives individuals’ behaviors for a while?  

  • How do incentive and reward systems, feedback, cultural norming affect behavior? 
  • Why don’t people say Please, Thank You, or I appreciate your help more often? 
  • Are we really “too busy” to be polite or is that really just an excuse, a cop-out?
  • If we are “too busy”, what can we do to become less busy and more polite?
  • When people do say Please and Thank You, do we take them with sincerity or suspect them?  If we suspect them, why do we? 

Have you stopped lately to check your own behavior?   Have you observed that many arguments continue way beyond any useful point because the parties want to “win.”   Or, in some cases so that one or more of the parties don’t feel that they would be perceived as “weak” or “giving in”.  Do you ever give yourself a “time out”?  I do.  Really, I do sometimes.  When I recognize I’m getting too frustrated and aggravated, I’ll go in another room for a few minutes so that I can calm down.  It’s about gathering myself together so that I can interact in a productive manner rather than a destructive one. 

Have you ever agreed to simply disagree?  I’ve learned to do this.  Did I always, no.  I have learned that there are times that this is simply the very best answer.  You might say that I’ve grown up – well, at least a bit.

So that’s my rant and what’s on my mind.  Thanks for listening.  May you Smile more, say Thank You more often, and help us make things just a little more positive around us. 

The root cause, motivation, and tipping point…

In case you were wondering what was the “tipping point” today?  Have you noticed how many of my links are to Wikipedia?  Today I was thinking about this and why I like Wikipedia.  I got on-line to try to find a way to say Thank You to Wikipedia’s contributors.  I wondered if anyone said Thank You to them and how to go about it.  It’s seemed to be so integrated into society in many ways that I wondered if we think about how much work it actually takes to create and maintain it.  In researching, I found the underpinnings of Wikipedia.  The more I read and thought about their guidelines, pillars, and netiquette, the more I thought about what I had been observing off-line and what the connections might be.  

I’d like to share one of Wikipedia’s five pillars.  I think that this one really applies to everything.  Not just on-line interactions. 

  • Wikipedians should interact in a respectful and civil manner.  Respect and be polite to your fellow Wikipedians, even when you disagree.  Apply Wikipedia etiquette, and avoid personal attacks.  Find consensus, avoid edit wars, and remember that there are 3,256,368 articles on the English Wikipedia to work on and discuss.  Act in good faith, never disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point, and assume good faith on the part of others.  Be open and welcoming.

Some closing thoughts and questions to ponder…

I’ve been thinking about the underlying drivers’ of etiquette, netiquette, and social behaviors for quite a while.  I’d like to ask you to ponder a few things with me: 

  • Are really people ruder?  
  • Is this a perception or a reality? 
  • Is perception really the reality? 
  • How do you perceive it? 
    • What dimensions do you see it through?  It’s more than words. 
    • I believe it shows up in body language, expression, actions et al. 
    • I’ve observed all the “right words” being used where I can completely read the body language and the underlying motivation differently.
  • Have people lost a level of genuineness?  If so, why might this be happening?
  • How do you think email, texting, twitter, and other on-line social media might have contributed to changes in behaviors?
  • As you project into the future 5, 10, 15, or 20 years, how might changes in children’s behaviors and actions affect business and society in general?

Bottom Line… 

I don’t have any answers, only observations, experiences, thoughts, and beliefs.  While I can’t change others (each person has to change for themselves), I can work to be polite, kind, and considerate in my own little part of the world and in my on-line actions.  To smile at those around me.  Do I always do it right?  Absolutely not.  If I’m wrong or behaved poorly I’ll seek to apologize.  I’ll work to improve.  Nice does not have to mean “fake.” 

No, life’s not all hearts and butterflies as the cynical saying goes, but a smile or two would be most welcome.  A wave, a please, a thank you, and some honest to goodness sincerity too.  I value those individuals I see it in and hope they value it in me too.   As the old saying goes, it takes less muscles to smile than to frown

I’ve also been thinking a lot about a Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana song goes like this… “life’s what you make it, so let’s make it right.” 

Some Background…

The following provoked my thinking and lead to this writing this article today:

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Guiding Principles

- Think Holistically
- Seek the Root Causes
- Respect the Individual
- Demonstrate Accountability
- Collaborate with Clients
- Work with Integrity, Always
- Relate to the Business Strategy
- Ensure Alignment
- Demonstrate Responsibility
- Transfer Skills

Thoughts and Quotes