You call it dismissive, I call it rude

Often I have heard the saying “it’s not personal, it’s business”. Someone actually posted an article regarding that very statement here “It’s Not Personal. It’s Business”

The statement above often makes me think how certain people justify, what might be classed as rude behaviour, their actions. Often I hear people saying “grow a thicker skin”, pretty much telling people to become jaded and make no emotional investment in what they are doing. After all, they are just resources. I had a small seizure during a discussion with a team of developers I was involved with.

The discussion was regarding whether or not we needed a representation of the expected ethos and behaviour of the members towards one another. The general consensus was “no, we don’t want rules in place to govern our behaviour towards one another. We are all adults (whatever that means) and should behave accordingly”. The team then took a vote and decided the memo or document or what ever you want to call it should contain a few guidelines.

The discussion went on to detail some very fine grain behaviour and no go discussion or joke topics. Being a man who likes to reduce complexity, I made the suggestion that we sum all those things up and say “Treat team members with respect, compassion and consideration”. Again, this set fire to the room and everyone spoke about how they didn’t want rules. At this point the seizure began and, although my body was there, my mind was screaming to get out of the room.

Another issue is this statement doing the rounds “it is easier to ask forgiveness than permission”. What utter hog wash! If you find it easy to say sorry, then you are not. The act of requesting forgiveness requires humiliating one’s self. To throw yourself at the mercy of the individual you are seeking forgiveness from. I find it ironic that, in South Africa, we moan and complain about government, saying they don’t care, yet we don’t look at our behaviour and condemn ourselves for the way we don’t care. I was taught from a very young age to consider the state of my house before judging another man’s house. If you say sorry, mean it.

Get on with it will you?

Anyways, moving on. Something I have recently observed is a behaviour that seems prevalent in most large companies. Some people call this behaviour “being dismissive”. I sum it up as being rude.The corporate world has rewarded those who scream the loudest and drown out the voices that might have something valuable to offer. If someone raises a point and the response to it is “yes, good point” and the conversation topic changes to something else or doesn’t even consider the comment just made, the people engaged in the conversation are being rude.

My favourite part about this behaviour is when something goes wrong, the first comment is “why didn’t anyone point that out?!”. To which someone is saying to themselves, “I did point it out”. The wheels come off, fingers start pointing and everyone runs around in a flat panic.

It is absolutely imperative that everyone on a project be heard. Do not dismiss the statements made by people perceived to be juniors. Listen to the guy who barely talks. Understand what is being said to you. To often, we let the person finish speaking, acknowledge the fact that he is done and simply forget what was said.

So if we move away from the project aspect of it all and just consider for a moment how this makes people feel. Personally I am tired of being surrounded by cut throat attitudes. Business is personal, it has to be, it involves other people! If you want to extract the best from someone, if you truly want them to excel at what they are doing, invest your time in them. If you nurture a relationship with the members of a company or team, you foster trust. Once people start trusting each other, getting things done becomes easier. Creating an environment of distrust leads to the opposite, an environment of people constantly looking over their shoulders. They spend so much time looking over their shoulders that nothing gets done.

In short – work with people like they are people, everyone wants their dignity and to be treated like they have a place in what ever is being targeted. Forget about the “if you want it done right, do it yourself” mentality. We all need to put our own selfish agendas and desires aside and look to aide our neighbours, friends, family and work colleagues. Then we can all take the masks off and live a simpler life.

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