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In the past days I was nearly driven off the road three times (although I’m everything but a slow driver), I got looked at askew in the supermarket being friendly to a woman that was not as mobile as we are (and by consequence not as fast), and whilst shopping for my Christmas outfit I was told by the saleswoman that I should definitely try on another dress before I even had the time to take a look in the mirror myself. On top of that I didn’t even agree I was looking thát bad ;-). And then you should try to park your car at the mall these days. It’s like a warzone out there.
I don’t know about you, but I am kind of struggling with all of this. At first I thought it was cultural. After all I am a “softer” Belgian in a “more direct” country as is the Netherlands. But then I talked to some of my friends and colleagues, spread over several countries, even different continents. And they all felt the same way. In many cases, our overall politeness is gone. It looks like there is no trust anymore. Not in another human being, not in our politicians, maybe not even in ourselves.
To be honest, sometimes it feels like a farce to me. What is wrong with us? Everywhere you look, someone is preaching about work-life balance, mindfulness, tolerance, corporate values, connection, social conscience, etc. I am not any different. But when you look around, it’s as if common courtesy is nowhere to be seen. I most probably have driven some people more or less “off the road” myself lately. Nobody is saying hello or thanks anymore. Friendly requests or messages remain unanswered. It seems we are all in a hurry. Stressed. Unfriendly by consequence. Maybe without intention. But we are. Self-oriented. Intolerant.
Is it lack of balance?
Is it pressure of any kind? Pressure to perform. To be good enough? To be recognized? To be seen? To be safe?
Is it (our kindness) reserved for our inner circle only?
Or, is it simply fatigue? lack of sleep? Not enough peace of mind?
Tell me, and I will do the same. Next time you find yourself rushing through life, traffic or any human contact, take a pause. Without judging anyone. Think about why you are behaving the way you do. What is your reason to be more or less impolite?
I am curious.
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About the author
Sofie Varrewaere is the founder of BigFish4.me and a certified Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coach. After studying a Master in Psychological and Pedagogical Sciences, she ogled into the magical world of Recruitment, Selection and HR Services. Working for the world leader in HR, she has always been in an advisory role in relation to the larger goals of several multinational organizations. In 2013 she started her own company in International executive Coaching. Doing what she is good at, challenging others as well as herself