I recently read a great article by Gil Namur called Whatever happened to Hi and Cheers. He’s observed that people, in general, are becoming increasingly business-like and less polite in face-to-face and especially electronic interactions. He feels that this as a setback for human relationships.
I’m inclined to agree with him. I’ve seen lots of instances myself where people are increasingly failing to be more considerate to one other. In fact, I hear less and less people saying “sorry” these days.
1) A cashier at a huge supermarket chain shortchanged me after I paid for my groceries. Fortunately, I decide to double-check the receipt before I leave and discover the error. I point this out to her and guess what happens? She just looks at me and gives me the $5.00 that was due to me and acts as if nothing unusual has happened. Does this encourage me to come back? No it doesn’t. It just gives me more reasons to shop elsewhere.
2) I go up to the counter of a coffee shop and there are five employees behind it who are busy – or trying to busy themselves – with various things other than serving me. I had been standing there for nearly two minutes before a waitress from the main area decides to go to the back of the counter herself to take my order as she has noticed the indifference of her colleagues. None of the original five, who eventually, turn around to face the lineup of customers that has accumulated makes an apology. Will I ever come back to this place? Probably not … (but I’d hire the waitress, though).
I’m not sure if parents are teaching their kids these days not to bother with apologizing to others for anything anymore but when I was growing up, I remember that I didn’t only have to say “sorry” if I had caused some harm, I was supposed to actually repair the damage that I had rendered. When you’re 10 years old, this can be very hard to do. But I was taught to always do it and simply swallow my pride.
People understand that we’re all human and occasionally make mistakes. Sorry only paves the way for us to remind each other how important we are to one another. By totally removing this step, we end up making it more difficult to live with one another and even allow resentment to build up and fester. That’s why I encourage clients (and especially people close to me) to tell me when I’ve messed up. That way, I can fix it. It’s much harder when you don’t know that you’ve caused other people hurt, then for them to be silent about it and then simply write you off. There’s no way that you can repair the damage in the second case.
These days, I get more and more blank stares from people who cause some type of error or generate some inconvenience or displeasure, and I struggle to understand if it’s because:
- They hate their job
- They hate their life
- They hate dealing with people
- They just don’t care
- They don’t have a clue
I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt and think that it’s #5. That part can be rectified. But if it’s anything from #1 to #4, then I suppose it’s my tough luck if I end up facing people with this type of attitude. And for the poor business owner who isn’t aware that this is happening, well, I’d wager that their company probably won’t be around for very long. In a highly competitive business climate where there also happens to be a huge recession going on, people can – and will – take their business elsewhere where they can get proper respect as paying customers.
What similar “no sorry” experiences have you undergone lately that have stuck in your head? Do they irritate you? Or do you feel that this trend is simply a necessary price that people have to pay for progress and/or the pace of life getting faster?
Guest Author Bio
George Verdolaga is an author, educator and speaker. He helps people get out of their own way so that they can reach their career and lifestyle goals faster and more efficiently via The Job Farmer and The Contractor Lifestyle books and his Sitting Pretty Course.
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Blog / Website: Verdolaga Learning Systems
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