Continued from Personal interactions, management, relationships and trust – Part 1
“Do you know what makes people decent?Fear.”It’s a line from a speech in Dogma, that Kevin Smith movie that inspired protests from lots of religious people who didn’t watch it.The point of the speech is that people only behave well when they are afraid of the consequences of behaving poorly.I wrote a post a while back on the ways that people can motivate other people, and fear underlies all of them.
I had an experience today that made me think that some people have been privileged in their interactions with other people.They have always been given the benefit of the doubt.They have always been treated fairly.So when something annoys them, they have no fear of the consequences of speaking up.Because they don’t know that there could be consequences.
I am absolutely aware that any request I make, no matter how innocuous, has an impact on the relationship.If I am annoyed at something and I ask for it to stop, I have implied that I find someone annoying.That will have consequences.Maybe they will be consequences that I will see, or maybe they won’t be visible, but they are out there. No way around it.
Take this example.The neighbor comes up to the door and says, ‘would you turn your music down?’
The normal person gets a little annoyed.It’s his own radio his own apartment, he should be able to do what he wants… and it is embarrassing to realize that he has intruded on someone else’s space.He wants to keep the peace, though, so he mutters something about not realizing it was so loud or something and he turns it down.
What does the jerk do in the same circumstance?He pitches a fit like a whiny child.And many a time, he will get what he wants.What he wants is to live uninterrupted.And the neighbor goes home, fumes, but doesn’t want to get in a fight, so he puts up with the loud music.And the jerk’s life is uninterrupted without any visual consequences. But this relationship is going downhill.This is not going to become a friendship.
I’ll admit that I find myself really tempted to give the jerk something to fear: a visible consequence.The only reason he acts this way is because it has never blown up in his face. He wants to live life uninterrupted, but he doesn’t deserve it.He’s not entitled to it.Maybe a painful interruption would be good for him.But that’s not high level interaction.Sure, maybe his behavior would improve if he ran into someone who was as big a jerk as he was.Maybe if someone really hurt him for not being polite, he would think twice about being impolite from then on.But probably not, and I don’t want to be the jerk whose job it is to find out.