Random Conversations

Signs of the Times?

Signs of the Times?

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We can do better

Living in NYC, I periodically hear someone ranting about something or another, screaming at people only they can see. It’s sad to witness, and my heart goes out to them for the emotional pain they are experiencing.

But it is very hard to feel compassion when real and innocent people are on the receiving end of a tirade. That is in no small part because I have a personal history of being the recipient of outrage.

Wake-up Calls

Recently, I was taken aback seeing communication from two different organizations that appear to have been dealing with an excessive amount out-of-control behavior. In a doctor’s office, a sign on the wall stated,

“Verbally or physically abusing one of our staff is not tolerated [here].”

It is appalling to think that this message not only has to be delivered but also mounted on the wall in what I assume are all the locations of this medical center.

The second organization makes a software product. I posted a technical support question online and received an auto-response that read in part,

“We do understand that a frustrating experience might have led to your need to contact us today, but we kindly ask that you treat our team with respect and kindness as we strive to provide the best possible experience for you as they work to resolve your issue.”

Their customer service and technical support are both excellent. It pains me to think of what they had experienced that drove them to remind people to treat each other with kindness and respect – a tone they expressed perfectly in their response.

Do people realize how abusive their words can be? How bad has it become that two different organizations had to publicly request respectful behavior?

Sticks and Stones

Words have power and are best used wisely.

I told a marriage counselor about the tirades of cutting words from my (now ex)-husband. His response:

“They say that sticks and stones will break your bones – but words will kill you.”

In a very real way, those anger-filled words kept chipping away at my heart. They built on the same behavior I grew up with, which compounded the pain.

The past is far behind me, but the scars remain and they push me to be even nicer, kinder, more honoring of each person I meet.

Moving Forward

I am far from perfect.

There have been times when my frustration about one thing or another got the better of me and I heard myself getting curt and raising my voice. In those moments, fortunately, I stopped myself and apologized.

I explained my frustration and told them I knew they were trying to help – and I appreciated that help. Pausing and stepping back diffused the tension and made all the difference.

There is a choice we can make. We can rant and rail, demean and belittle when we are upset about something – or we can make an effort to come together and understand each other.

That is the essence of intentionally honoring conversation, and it opens the pathway to a very different organizational message:

Thank you for honoring our employees and their work. We appreciate you.

Photo by Mark Timberlake on Unsplash

Cathy Joseph is the author of the Random Conversations blog and is currently seeking representation for her book, The Art of Having a Delicious Conversation.

© 2022 Cathy Joseph. All rights reserved.

2 thoughts on “Signs of the Times?”

  1. Loved this! I saw a similar sign posted and had the same reaction you did. Isn’t respect automatic anymore? Thanks for addressing a tough topic!

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience, Allison. I am hopeful we can shift back to respectful interactions as our default way of being. Every small step we take helps to get us there.

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