Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Rudeness and Manners....

The Today show has a feature this week called "Rudeness in America". It is rather interesting.

What's most interesting are the various things others consider "rude". Michael Richards with his racist outburst at a comedy club in LA, people giving each other "the finger" with little provocation beyond causing minor inconvenience, yapping on cell phones with abandon regardless of the environment and an assortment of self-centered, arrogant behaviors that litter the public landscape. Obviously those things are rude.

In general, I have delicate manners and don't get angry very easily. When angry, I don't express it aggressively. It's more productive to remove myself from a situation. But for the most part, I enjoy manners. "Please", "thank you", "you're welcome", "I hope you have a pleasant day" and opening doors for others is something that brings me pleasure. Making someone smile makes me smile. There is something very pleasurable in watching how others react to a simple kindness.

Not that I am an angel. I have a temper. There are times in the past when I have used the international gesture of ill-will but it is commonly at disgusting displays of childish behavior or directed to someone who is being disagreeable to an abusive extent. I have also been known to be marginally rude to call center representatives. My patience level isn't what it should be when it comes to people who don't pay attention and don't have the will for simple, logical problem-solving. Being aware of the weakness, I try to avoid doing business on the phone when stressed. I will report some improvement since having chosen to make a conscious effort to be nicer to people on the phone. Mindfulness. It's all about mindfulness.

In watching the "Today" series, it seems that most people get angry about things that make them feel invisible, things that put them on the defensive and things that don't offer a sufficient acknowledgement of their individuality. In other words, it is all about ego. Rudeness is defined by it. How many people get angry or intervene when they see an Other being mistreated?

One of the hallmarks of Thai culture is saving face. To "lose it" in public is considered a gross social gaff. When one gets openly angry, he or she loses all credibility. Anger is something to be handled privately, perhaps discussed with a good friend (in a civil manner) or dispensed through physical activity. These are the coping mechanisms I've chosen for dealing with my anger.

Most anger isn't worth the energy we expend on it. It is a waste of perfectly good passion that could be directed elsewhere. The things that make me really angry? People who use their kids for punching bags. People who throw their kids in dumpsters because they can't afford to raise them. People who scam elders. People who use deception on vulnerable others to gain something for themselves ~ whether it is materially, physically or emotionally. People who are indifferent to everything in the universe other than their own small circles. That's stuff worth getting pissed off about.

Someone talking loudly on their cell phone? Someone cutting in front of a line? Someone not responding in some exact manner that my fragile ego demands? Not worth it. It's transitory and in a week forgotten. Is it really worth the possibility of hurting someone else? Is it worth it to feed into the general pool of ill-will? "Hatred never ceases by hatred, but by love alone is healed. This is an ancient and eternal law."




Girlplustwo said...

I love that about Thai culture. I remember being trapped in a mini-monsoon, on a long boat, with some other travellers who were not digging it at all (it was pretty scary) but were being so rude to the longboat operator - and he stayed kind and calm and wonderful in the midst of a very challenging time.

And that is just one example of many I've gotten to see, and it is such a lovely way to engage the world.

Pam said...

Conversations on rudeness are a constant in my family. Good manners are dissapearing and senseless anger is taking their place. I miss consideration, thoughtfulness and reason. It's the difference between a cold, bitter wind and a soft breeze.

Dan said...

Chani, nice post. I also caught a bit of that on the "Today Show". In a weird sort of way, I secretly thank rude people for being teachers to me.

They teach me patience, calm, kindness. We can learn alot about how to be a better person by getting practice in dealing with rude people. That's why I actually welcome them in my life! ;)

If everyone was totally nice, how would we learn and grow? And, also, if everyone was nice, we wouldn't know it as nice because we wouldn't have non-nice to compare it to.

It's Taoist, Buddhist, whatever.

Anvilcloud said...

It's not so much the effect of rudeness on me that I find most bothersome but it's what it says about those people. It frustrates me that people can be that small.

Leann said...

people seem to be more rude now then when I was younger.please and thank you were the norm.but now your blessed if you manage to get a grunt from people in some places.I think its a sign of the times we are in.but some people are still well mannered.have a great day chani.

Pam said...

I will join you in giving thanks for our opportunities to learn and grow.

Cecilio Morales said...

You touched a bit of me that bothers me: my anger, occasional now, from which I try to diet with a feast of things that make others smile. You're so right, it does make one feel better to do things for others, small polite things. It's like spreading a pleasant scent, lavender.

QT said...

Love that quote Chani, and I try to remind myself of it often -especially when I am driving, that is when I become the most angry!

meno said...

i try not to get angry over the little things, but sometimes i fail. It always makes me feel worse.
Good lesson.

Susan as Herself said...

That is a good philosohy to have... I wish I could be so vigilant. I have plenty o' anger in me---this I know. Generally I channel it alright, but sometimes it's not easy, and we all have our triggers. One of my big ones is seeing someone mistreat an animal. Just thinking of that makes me ballistic.

Anonymous said...

Chanakarni, I have to think about this. Not sure how realistic it is.

KC said...

I see rudeness as directly proportional to selfishness, and unfortunately, our country is the perfect culture media to grow selfish, self-centered types.

It goes along perfectly with our foreign policy.

Bob said...

I abhor rudeness, not because I think I have been belittled, but because it is a demonstration of that person's lack of consideration for others in general - not me (or not just me). One of the things I try the hardest to do is have consideration for other people, sometimes to the degree of subsiding my needs to theirs. So when I see someone being rude and therefor demonstrating a complete lack of regard for other people it gets my goat.

Being married more than any other experience has demonstrated to me the importance of this. It is a life-long task.

Snoskred said...

I'm trying to visit as many of the NaBloPoMo blogs as I can and I thought I'd say hi, I liked your blog.. :) I think the height of rudeness is to dent someone else's car with your door when you get out. It's not hard to be careful and have a little respect for someone else's property. :( That makes me mad!

Great post.. :) I'm bookmarking you!

thailandchani said...

Jen, I love that about Thai culture, too. It's so unusual to have finally found one that I like more than dislike. There are very few Thai customs that don't make inherent sense. :)

Pam, don't you wonder why there is so much senseless anger out there? I do. A lot.

Dan, that's a very good point. They are teachers.

Anvil, I've found that many people who have never dealt with real hardship allow themselves to be small. Being "small" should only be for children.

Leann, I would go so far as to say most people are well-mannered. It's the rude ones who get noticed is all.

Cecileaux, I agree. Completely.

QT, it is mostly the phone for me and I do have to stay mindful.

Meno, we all slip. Not long ago, I got really angry at a neighbor with a loud car stereo. (I absolutely detest loud car stereos). There's no way to completely avoid getting angry. At least it doesn't seem possible to me.

Susan, I would be ballistic over someone mistreating an animal, too. Thank goodness that one hasn't been tested yet. The individual doing such a thing might see a different side of Chani. :)

Brenda, yes.. it can be a challenge but it is perfectly realistic.

KC, *amen*!!

Bob.. yes... It is pure selfishness and self-centeredness ~ not a very attractive human quality.

soskred, respect... that's what it's all about. :)

Thanks everyone :)



Andrea Frazer said...

Despite our techno growing world and the onslaught of email, I still find handwritten thank you notes to be a sign of true class.

Anonymous said...

mama p, they teach students at Harvard Business School to write handwritten notes.

Hey, Thailand Gal! Decided to pay you a visit!

I detest typical cell phone behavior, which is why I refuse to obtain one. I can see that they've seduced many/most users and I don't want to be seduced. I want to be present with people.