“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.” – Saint Basil
Like a tennis game, I watched an email exchange last night between colleagues of one of our clients. Back and forth, the ball at high velocity with one snide remark after another, seemingly without end. Jab here, jab there. Egos and arrogance alive and well, disguised as intelligent debate. Email allows us to say things that we would not say if we had to look someone in the eye and see their humanity.
My nieces Emily and Jenna are working at the same restaurant while going to college. They are getting excellent experience in hard work and are on the front lines of customer service lessons. Last week, Emily got yelled at by a woman who didn’t like that the menu had changed. The other lesson they are getting is how not to act.
Unfortunately, we all have similar encounters to share. We see it every day at work, in public, in the political arena, on the road. It’s hard to not take it all personally and we all do deserve respect. But if we pause and don’t automatically dish it back, we realize that their behavior is a reflection of what’s inside them and really has nothing to do with us. And I learned a long time ago that you can’t change people, maybe influence at best. However, we can model and pursue civility and gentleness that is needed to overcome the toxic discourse.
When someone makes a flip cutting remark, say something good to trump it. If you can’t muster that up, simply walk away or say your piece peacefully and move on. We may not understand it, but I really don’t want to understand it or more importantly turn into it. How we react and act is the only thing we can truly control.
Each day, we have the power to choose civility, kindness, courtesy and generosity of spirit, especially when it’s not warranted and needed most. Cast light.