Why are people so rude these days?
Loki, my mini golden doodle puppy, loves everyone – people, dogs, and even cats. But he just got kicked out of doggie day care for . . . being too big.
He was there first but that didn’t matter.
It feels like rudeness and me-first-ness is The New Normal these days. Step outside and it’s all around you. You know, the guy in the red sports car who cuts you off for the fun of it. The woman who sneaks ahead of you on the line at the supermarket because she thinks you’re not looking. The friend that says you look awful . . . whether it’s true or not.
There’s also invisible customer service.
A cluster of salespeople laugh while you beg for help.
A telephone rep says they can’t help you (probably because they’re thousands of miles away on a different continent). A company that promised you immediate delivery – over a year ago.
It’s like my puppy in doggie day care. A lot of people have become self-centered – always first in line whether they belong there or not. Loki was kicked out because the owner took in smaller dogs. Loki weighed 20 pounds. It didn’t make a difference that Loki was there first.
Look beyond the rudeness and you’ll find anxiety, depression, frustration, and fear. The pandemic continues, political upheaval (whichever side you’re on) is pervasive, gridlock in chain supply demand delays everything, rising violence is everywhere . . . the list is endless. Climate change is our latest fear. According to The Washington Post, at least 85% of the world’s population has been affected by human-induced climate change. Unfamiliar weather terms are colorful – bombogenesis, thundersnow, microburst, polar vortex, and derecho. What was once predictable is gone. Media’s focus on violence and social media’s focus on misinformation and conspiracy theories . . . well what does that all say about The New Normal?
How can you change this grim reality?
Use that old English proverb, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
One friend says she uses “sir” for every man that helps her, 18 years and older. “Can you help me reach the spaghetti sauce on the top shelf, sir?”
He grins and does just that.
Another tells servers in a restaurant that they’re doing a great job – that’s why you love the place so much.
They smile and give you extra fried rice.
“I love your hair,” I say to a young receptionist with beautifully styled braids. She beams and tells me it takes four hours to do as she quickly rings up my order.
While it’s not getting Loki back into doggie day care, it breaks through many defenses (and offenses) in The New Normal.
Let’s look at it another way.
Smiling is really quite effortless. According to Psychologist Mary Ann Hannon who won an award for research on the effects of smiling, it only takes .03 seconds to smile. Put it together with carefully selected words and you have a bonanza. “Studies have shown that a smile triggers feel-good emotions.”
And we all need a little “feel good” in these harrowing times.
Keep in mind that even when you smile behind a mask your eyes show it.
Combine positive words and a smile and the grim New Normal might be more palatable. Maybe if Loki smiled more he would still be in doggie day care?
If you smile and say nice things others can’t help but return the favor. They’re flattered. Relieved. “You have the power to make yourself and someone feel good almost instantly,” writes Hannon in Soaring. “What a gift!”
Use that gift – you won’t regret it.
Today Loki is in a new doggie day care and very happy. His “best friend” is an 80-pound pup appropriately named Samson.