To Err is Human…

When I started writing about manners I decided to have a look at some blogs and forums on the topic – and you know what? There are a lot of angry people out there.

When someone shows a lack of courtesy we feel affronted or outraged. If someone walks slowly on the street in front of us, or blocks the path on the escalator it infuriates us. In Sydney, if you let someone into the lane in front of you in traffic, they are supposed to wave. If they forget to do this, it turns Sydney drivers into tailgating, horn honking, swearing and gesturing furies.

All of this outrage and fury doesn’t change anything. Bad manners continue to affront us on a daily basis and as we react, we compound the problem by adding our own negative energy to it.

I’m wondering now, if it might be better if we just calmed down a little. Is our need or desire to move quickly through a crowd more important than another’s need or desire to take a leisurely pace? And if we are forced to walk or drive slowly for a time, does it matter? Do we really need to feel so irritated?

The thing is, we tend to be most irritated when the person in our way is a stranger. If we realise we know the person, suddenly it doesn’t seem so bad. Perhaps its because we no longer look at them as simply an obstacle and start to see them as a thinking, feeling, complex human being.

I used to be really bothered by a neighbour of mine who continues to turn his television volume up to a level that drowns out my own. I was almost at the point of going around to his place and demanding he turn it down, when another neighbour organised a barbecue and invited us all to it. I met the man with the loud tv. He is a very pleasant and gentle natured person. Somehow since then, I never feel annoyed when he turns his television up. I just laugh and think, there’s Marcus with his loud tv again. He’s no longer an irritation – I see him as a human being now – and perhaps that is the key.

I’m trying to take a more forgiving approach to others now, because I’ve realised that becoming angry doesn’t change anything. I gain nothing through anger and irritation. When I take a forgiving approach people seem more human, the world seems kinder and my walk through it is lighter.

Perhaps it might change the world a little as well – if one by one we become less angry and more understanding, the world has to become a better place.

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11 thoughts on “To Err is Human…

  1. How often we forget! A true gentleman or gentlewoman will do whatever it takes to make others feel at ease. So if someone blocks where I want to pass through, I should think of his need to be in the way, his need to block traffic. Perhaps he is in ill. Perhaps he is out of gas. Perhaps he is lost. With all those possibilites, what can I do to help him?

    Of course, I need to learn this lesson, too!

    Katharine

  2. ah, no! Noise pollution is still pollution regardless of how nice he appears or how deaf he is. Some people need to think about how others might be impacted by their actions and you putting up with something which annoys you isn’t you being polite, it’s you being beaten!

    Let it be? Stand up for yourself woman! Next time you see him a comment like ‘gee your TV is loud! what type is it? it must be HUGE! offsetting that against anything hm?’ or ‘hey what movies have you been watching lately? sometimes I’d swear you’re watching, well, porn’

    • Hehehe – I think if his tv starts to really bother me again I may well act on your advice. The weird thing is, since I met the guy, it honestly doesn’t annoy me when can hear his tv now – so no, I don’t actually think its me being beaten.

      If I was sitting in my flat feeling miserable and annoyed about it, that would be another matter and I would need to say something.

  3. Because we have been tourists and lost, I always take that perspective with drivers who seem to not know where to go or what to do. I get annoyed when pedestrians stop right in the middle of a sidewalk and start talking on their cell phone, or talking to a large group of people and it’s impossible to walk around them. When one is walking, it is easy to pull over into a storefront and make the call or chat with buddies. I am seeing more and more narcissism in the world, though. “It’s all about ME and I want.” Ugh.

    • Oh, I totally agree with you about people who stop suddenly in the middle of the pavement and don’t move out of the way to have their conversation.
      I also hate it when people decide to have conversations in doorways, blocking access in and out.

  4. dkzody- we do need to be patient with tourists and it can be stressful driving in any new city. Sometimes I think there should be a bike lane, a tourist lane, and a locals lane but then that doesn’t even work at a swimming pool (those ignorant people hanging about at the end of the lap lane making it impossible to turn without almost touching them! argh!).

    I wrote a blog about ‘getting out of the way’ and it made me feel slightly better. http://whohadthehit.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/and-there-i-was-just-walking-down-the-street/

  5. great post.
    i always thought that manners are to make other people feel more at ease?
    i think that now that your neighbour with the loud TV is now something of a friend, you would be able to speak a little more honestly with him and express your concern – he may not know that his TV is disrupting your enjoyment and be more than willing to do something about it – sometimes i think we lose track of the fact we can’t read each other’s minds…

    • Thanks Bex,
      I think you are right about manners being to put others at ease. As for the neighbour – the strange thing is, since meeting him, I’m just not irritated by the television. I notice it occasionally, but it never upsets or bothers me the way it used to. If it starts to annoy me again though, I think I will say something – as you say, I’m sure he has no idea anyone else can hear it.

      • funny, isn’t it, how we aren’t bothered by our friends’ irritating behaviour just ‘cuz they are our friends…sometimes i demand those i’m close to live to higher standard of behaviour, but i’m a jerk like that, i expect them to be better…

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