Thursday, August 2, 2007

Why Are We so Rude and Angry?

By Pamela S. Meek

I was in line at a hardware store today. I wasn’t really paying much attention until I heard the woman in front of me utter some really profane personal expletives aimed at the young cashier. The girls face turned scarlet with indignation and embarrassment.

It seems the clerk’s crime was that she asked the woman for her drivers license when she was writing out a check for her merchandise. Oh, horrors of horrors! The woman was angry and yelling at the top of her lungs that she shopped there all the time and didn’t need to show her ******* license every ******* time she wrote a check.

When the cashier pointed out the sign prominently posted that said a valid drivers license must be presented with EVERY check, the woman reached out as if to slap the girl. A man that had just finished in another line and was passing near her “accidentally” bumped into her and knocked her hand away from the girl. The anger was then unleashed on him. At this point the manager arrived and asked the woman to finish her purchase and leave. The woman rambled a dialogue of profanity at him as well and threatened to never shop there again. I was pleasantly surprised by the manager’s reply; he told her if she kept that promise we would all be happier. She left in a huff.

What makes people so self centered and uncaring of others feelings that they feel they have a right to behave like this towards others? Why do we allow the small things in life to make us so angry that we do not bother to think of the other person’s feelings?

My daughter works at a magazine help center where they take incoming calls for magazine orders and complaints. They are trained to figure out what the problem is and fix it for the customer. She comes home emotionally exhausted from dealing with rude people who call her filthy names and act as if everything is her personal fault.

People call in angry because their magazine is late getting there or because there is a mix up on billing and they refuse to give even a bit of info to help her find the problem, then scream and cuss at her for not fixing it right now. She is called all kinds of filthy names and insults.

My daughter tells of talking to people who always ask, “Do you know who I am young woman?” As if their importance in their line of work makes them more important than anyone else and she should be able to magically be able to fix their problem just because they are so great.

She generally tells them that all she has is a name and number on a screen and that all of their customers are of equal importance. She has a keen wit and can usually get them to laugh and to see the futility of blaming her personally. After all, the help center is five hundred miles away from where the magazine is printed and another three hundred miles more from where they are located. She is there to help them fix the problem, not to be their personal whipping boy.

Yes she sometimes has good days where someone calls in and is especially nice, like the time Kevin Costner called about a problem with his magazine and he made her day by being kind and very nice. He even complimented her on the way she handled the problem and found the solution so fast. We need more people like that in this world.

Today anger and frustration seem to be the way of the world. It just goes with the faster paced lifestyle where no one seems to have time to think of anyone except themselves. Everyone is slandering, cursing and belittling anyone who they think is not in a position to fight back. And when someone does fight back, then the rage turns into violence.

I believe it all started when we allowed people to insult telemarketers. The internet is full of nasty emails about how rude people can be to telemarketers. And we not only accept it and agree with it, but we laugh at it and pass it to others.

Why is it OK to be nasty to telemarketers? They are people hired to do a job. Did you know that most telemarketers are hired by companies like mortgage companies and lenders that you already do business with? That is how they get your phone number to begin with. Did you know that even if you are on a do not call list with the phone company, a telemarketer hired by your company can call you anyway? It’s because you do business with that company and in most cases, you may have signed a paper giving them permission to have the marketers call you. I bet you didn’t even read the paper did you?

Save your anger for the company who hired them, don’t direct it at the person doing their job and calling you. Simply saying please take me off your list and hanging up is enough. If you just hang up, you go back into the bin to be called again. If you do talk to them, their job requires that they keep pressing you until you have said no three times. So, just ask to be removed from the list and hang up. You will achieve more than if you scream at them and show your rudeness. Then call the person who gave them your number and tell them of your displeasure.

I think we all need to practice a little more kindness and patience with others. Don’t allow small things to make you angry. Anger and calling names does nothing to correct a bad situation. Just as the young cashier could not change the policies of the store she worked for, slinging personal insults at innocent people just because you have been inconvenienced in some small way, does not make the situation right. And getting angry at the wrong person serves no purpose.

Violence is a learned response. It is not something we are born feeling. It's normal to feel angry or frustrated when things don’t go right. But anger and frustration do not justify insulting comments and verbal abuse towards others or violent action. Anger is a strong emotion that can be difficult to keep in check, but the right response is always to stay cool.

A little kindness goes a long way and a smile is sure to get more cooperation and solve the problem a lot faster.

Anger is part of life, but you can free yourself from the cycle of violence by learning to talk about your feelings calmly and patiently. We can achieve much better results and usually even bring about a solution to our troubles when we stay calm and speak rationally.

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