“Self-centered” Thinking

I’ve given myself time to reflect over the past couple of days.  I’m not sure that it’s made anything clearer, and I’m almost certain that the muddiness is even muddier than it was before I began to reflect.  At the center of everything is me, so yes…I am being a bit “self-centered” here.  However, aren’t I at the center of most things in my life?  Truly, when I look around, I believe that the one common denominator is myself.  I’ve begun to look at relationships, both personal and working related, and I’ve really started to wonder if other people actually do the same thing.  Do others reflect on their actions?  Do they ponder how they affect the world, and people, around them?  Do they even understand, just a little bit, the impact that they have?  Do they attempt to better themselves, or is someone else always the problem?  I’ve asked myself these questions, as well as applied them to myself.  I’ve concluded that the following question is the ultimate one:  Am I the problem??

When I ask myself if I’m the problem, the answer is a lot more complex than you might imagine.  It’s true, what I’ve heard said, that people become a product of their environment.  So the answer, in short, is both yes and no.  I’ve had to examine statements that people have made to me recently, and I’ve applied them in practical form so that I might gain insight and understanding.  The biggest question I’ve asked of myself is this:  Why do I always feel the need to be right?  I guess it’s harder to accept that other people can do things in a different way, and they can still achieve the same results by doing so.  It doesn’t fit with logic, at least not the way that my brain understands.  I’ve always been comfortable with strict procedures and structure, so deviance from those is a highly uncomfortable place to be.  And, imagine this, if I’m to correctly understand the training I am currently receiving, it takes 21 days to break a habit!  Imagine someone trying to force a habit to change in ONE day, and you can literally see the sparks of conflict fly!

Jumping back to the original thought: Am I the problem?  At the heart of it, NO.  I am a product of teaching, and if that teaching hasn’t been done correctly, then corrections need to be made.  So…who is at fault?  In a working environment, the teacher (trainer, coach, etc.) is responsible for making sure there is a CLEAR understanding of all responsibilities and duties.  That also includes understanding chains of command, and appropriate ways to address grievances.  At the heart of every working environment, there are always grievances.  Some of the grievances cut straight through to another person’s personality, which can be based on viewpoints that are highly subjective, so then WHY is it important to follow a chain of proper addressment for a complaint against a person?  I decided to single out one example from a recent comment about me that included the thought that I was “rude”.  

I feel, first, that I need to address the word in itself.  Rudeness is a matter of a person’s perception.  Often times, we may consider someone else’s behavior rude, before we examine our own.  It’s very true that our own behavior may have actually created, or perpetuated, the “rudeness”.  Or, in some people’s case, maybe we just don’t see other signs that could explain the so-called “rude” behavior.  I would say that RUDENESS is one of the biggest complaints made by fellow employees, and customers, of a business.  So let’s dig a little deeper into the “rudeness”.  

What things could contribute to “rude” behavior?

  • Being tired:  This could be from lack of sleep, or just a long day.
  • Stress, or high pressure demands.
  • Someone else acted inappropriately, thereby setting off a chain of “rude” behavior. 
  • Anger, being upset, or having hurt feelings.
  • Being overly confident in one’s abilities or knowledge.
  • Being corrected in an inappropriate manner.
  • Disrespect.
  • A lack of empathy.
  • Miscommunication.
  • Misunderstanding.
  • Impatience.
  • Not knowing, nor having an understanding of, the individual in question.
  • Misperception.
  • Being judgmental.
  • Jumping to conclusions.
  • Not liking someone.

I’m sure there are other things that could be added to the list, however, I’ll leave it right there.  All of the things listed could contribute to someone’s perception of another person being “rude”, which is defined as:  Being offensively impolite or ill-mannered, and has synonyms of discourteousness or being unmannerly.  I think the bigger question to go with this is:  How should we respond to perceived “rude” behavior??  My answer does not involve talking behind someone’s back, which can also be considered “rude” behavior.   This rarely solves a problem in ANY relationship, and can create even further conflict.  I mean, imagine yourself in this scenario:

Jolene is going about her day, and she is feeling rather confident.  She accomplished all the tasks that her boss had outlined for her to do, and she has a half hour until it’s time to go home.  Ten minutes before she prepares to leave, her boss suddenly approaches her with a task that will take twenty minutes to complete.  Her coworker, Susie, approaches her, and asks her a question about another task that Jolene had done earlier.  Susie proceeds to tell Jolene that she did the task the wrong way, and then outlines how the task is supposed to be done.  By that point, Jolene is looking at the clock and realizing that, the task that will take twenty minutes to do will cause her to be working a half hour later than her original shift.  Jolene also realizes that if she does not get the task done, and if she doesn’t clock out in a reasonable timeframe, her boss will be piping mad.  Jolene tells Susie that if she wants the task done correctly, then perhaps Susie should redo it.  Susie looks at her blankly for a moment, and Jolene, being pressed for time, walks away to go complete the new task that must be done.  Later, Jolene is approached by Lisa, another coworker, who asks Jolene why she was rude to Susie.  

The biggest question in this scenario is:  Why is Jolene’s behavior relevant to Lisa, and/or why is it Lisa’s business?  The answer is:  It isn’t.  The conflict is between Susie and Jolene, with the complainant being Susie.  If Susie felt hurt by Jolene’s behavior, the appropriate response would be to talk to Jolene about it.  Now, Jolene feels hurt and offended right along WITH Susie!  In accordance with MOST people’s behavior, we tend to involve other people in our personal problems or conflicts.  How, or why, does this create further conflict?  More importantly, how can we work on stopping the behavior of inappropriate response?  Conflict can be tough!  The truth is, we all need to work on it each and every day!  We’re imperfect, our communications are imperfect, our perceptions are imperfect, and we’re going to sometimes be involved in things that end quite badly.  Sometimes, the way that we respond can create MORE hurt feelings, and this time, not our own.  Hurting other people seems to be easy to do.  How great would it be if we could just stop hurting each other?   I feel that by understanding each others imperfections, that’s a perfect place to start.  Also, by doing a little “self-centered” thinking from time to time, we might actually evolve our own behavior.  


Disclaimer:  All names used are fictitious in nature, and not related to anyone in real life.  All musings are of a personal nature, and anyone finding a real-life relation to anything contained herein, is hereby assured that the body of work is the sole product of the author’s mind.  


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