Manners: Anyone who isn’t an “A”

This is going to inevitably have some political leaning, but it is about manners. One of my friends posted a link to this article on how chivalry isn’t dead, you just don’t know what it is. I really liked the article and despite the occasional profane language, I thought the author did a great job expressing what people are missing about the “rules” of chivalry.

I would argue that both my rules on holding doors and rules of driving are along the same lines: it’s about remembering other people have different needs. Remembering that other people are people too.

I have problems with capitalism because it is focused on the A-type personality. The person who can hustle. The person who can say “it isn’t personal, it’s business.” It rewards the liars and the cheats (at the end of the day). It glorifies terrible people who might be charismatic even after they ruin companies (or countries). Capitalism is a system designed for everyone to be an A-type personality.

So what happens to the betas, deltas, and everyone else? This is where I see things like capitalism breaking down. The system doesn’t reward someone for being a trusting person (“these diesel cars are better for the environment!”/”cigarettes are GOOD for you!”). It doesn’t support the person who like routine and consistency instead of risk. It gives no place to someone who is fighting every day just to have enough spoons to function (or not enough spoons to function!). It tells the person who is doing a job they love they need to move into a new position – more money, more responsibility… only losers stay in the same position their whole career. Get into management! Move up!

This is an area that I would like to see more people work on their manners. Just because someone isn’t hustling to get that new shiny job/promotion or leaving a company that isn’t giving them every possible benefit… maybe that person loves their coworkers or the job is challenging without leaving them drained every night. Maybe in their field it’s hard to find their role that doesn’t require 90% travel and they found it. And yeah it pays a little less and the benefits aren’t as shiny… but they are happy.

When you are dealing with someone who doesn’t have an A-type personality, it’s important to find out  – and then respect! – what [the person in front of you] values. They may value quality time with their family over the money. They may feel passionately about what they do – whether it’s teaching, flying an airplane, or being a programmer. They may have found a job that allows them to pay their bills and gives them flexibility to follow their passion for mountain climbing (or art or volunteering or…).

Thinking that everyone shares your values and goals in life is just bad manners. It’s important to put into perspective that those things which are motivating you – aren’t motivating everyone. Communicating with that person to find out what really drives them can be a great start. It may not answer everything, but just respecting that not everyone can be or should be the CEO/top athlete/superstar… would go a long way to improving people’s perceptions of themselves and of each other.

It would also make it easier for us to find the right places for people – the right home instead of some kind of way-station to the greatness everyone is supposed to strive for. Why does everyone need fifteen minutes of “fame”? What if someone just wants to quietly tinker on old clocks in their garage? Or paint? Or play patty-cakes with kids?

All that said – I will totally be replacing Dickens AND Dumas AND Shakespeare as required reading, be the first astronaut on Mars, and be president of the USA. All at once. I will totally be President FROM Mars WHILE I am writing the worlds-changing novels. Or I will write in my “copious” free time with my “copious” leftover brain power and someday hope to see my name on the side of spine at my local library.