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No Time to Be Nice at Work.” Do you agree?

In the July series, Practicing the Student Creed, we’re talking about using Tae Kwon Do principles in everyday life. One of their five key values is courtesy or promoting “trust and cooperation among all members of our society.” However, trust and cooperation take time. Should we just throw these concepts out and accept that today’s world is just too rushed for nice?

You’ll be fascinated by the sidebar about rude behaviors in Christine Porath’s New York Times opinion piece. The most shocking finding? There are commonalities between “rude behaviors by bosses” and “rude behaviors people most often admit seeing in themselves.” Not just one similar bad habit – four! They are:

  1. Neglects saying please or thank you;
  2. Belittles others nonverbally or talks down to people;
  3. Takes the best and leaves the worst tasks for others, or grabs easy tasks while leaving difficult ones for others; and
  4. Is judgmental of others who are different.

It’s simple to breeze through the list and think, “I’d never act like that.” But haven’t we all experienced good intentions that suddenly go haywire? This is what happened to Candace.

“I couldn’t listen to her for another minute. I just had to say something,” Candace said.

Her tone made me tense up. “I’m not following.” I asked, “What was the problem?”

“We were putting the finishing touches on the charity event, and Tracy needed people to work the check-in table. She wanted to send out an email to get volunteers. Well, that was the dumbest thing I ever heard. All the event teams were sitting right there.”

“What did you do?”

Candace was adamant. “She wanted to move on, but I spoke up. I looked over and said, “Uh, why don’t we just ask everyone right now? Isn’t that better?” She didn’t have much of a response, so I took a poll and got it settled immediately!”

“That must have made things much easier for Tracy,” I said hopefully.

“That’s what I thought. Then one of her team members stopped me in the hall. She made a flip comment about how I shut Tracy down in front of everyone. What?! It was Tracy who was doing things the wrong way.”

“Anyway, I just ignored her feedback,” Candace said with a wave of her hand. “The most important thing was getting the volunteers locked in, and we accomplished that. If other people misunderstood my actions, that’s not my problem.”

Candace could have had a different reception. She tried to be efficient, yet others saw her as argumentative and belittling. It was a classic case of “right fighting.”

It’s time to promote trust and cooperation in all your interactions. Give right fighting a day off, or maybe even two! You may have a few moments this week when you feel your blood pressure rise. If you think there’s no time to be nice, keep the Course in Miracles in mind: “I could see peace instead of this.”