Mean people suck.
We’ve all seen this line, right? There is even a movie with this title and it’s true: mean people do suck. But how often do we put up with them just because it is easier than calling them on it, or because we need something only they can provide?
Seth Godin recently wrote a post stating the time has come for this to end. In “The End of the Diva Paradox,” Seth writes:
The traditional scarcity model implied some sort of inverse relationship between service and quality. Not for service businesses like hotels, of course, but for the other stuff. If someone was truly gifted, of course they didn’t have the time or focus to also be kind or reasonable or good at understanding your needs. A diva was great partly because, we decided, she was a jerk.
When I see it stated like that I think what a fool was I to buy that kind of thinking, but it was the norm. Could that be changing? I have had reason to spend a lot of time in the company of medical specialists this year, and the Diva Doctor and their staff are alive and well. As Seth puts it:
Great surgeons don’t need to be respectful or have a talented, kind or alert front desk staff. They’re great at the surgery part, and you’re not here for the service, you’re here to get well (if you believe that the surgery part is what matters). In fact, gruffness might be a clue to their skill for some.
I have to admit I bought into that thinking when I was choosing an Oncologist, but after several months of conflicting information, unreturned phone calls, poor service AND attitude, I am changing my tune.
Seth believes the time has come when scarcity of expertise is no longer an issue, and consequently bad behavior need not be tolerated for it. It seems to me that in the medical profession especially, kindness should be required. After all, if you are dealing with someone who feels poorly to begin with, how is being mean or just plain arrogant an asset?
On the flip side of this, feeling poorly can make one be less than their best. I can attest to this and so can my husband. However, when it comes to my work, I make sure that I am able to put on a smile and treat the people I deal with respectfully. It is not an option, in my opinion. I think I see evidence of this way of being spreading as Seth believes.
For example, this morning Steve and I were watching an interview with Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney of The Black Keys. The question was asked how do they remain humble in the face of fame? Auerbach said his family wouldn’t tolerate anything else. Why should they? Why should anyone? Are the days of rock stars trashing hotel rooms and requesting only green M&Ms over?
The “mission” in my photo up there was in the office of a neurosurgeon I saw recently. I was treated well in that office, and I love the mission, however I would like to see kindness be the norm without direction.
I would like to believe we can abolish mean people everywhere, but I don’t think that will happen.
In the blogosphere and artosphere, like anywhere else, we see both sides of this story. However, I think it is time we require it of the people we deal with in business and service of any kind. I do know that the next time a receptionist yells at me on the phone I will ask them please to have more respect. I suppose the challenge lies in not putting up with it while maintaining your own good behavior. In other words, not sinking to their level as a retort.
Have you found yourself putting up with sub par behavior from professionals? In what ways could you respond differently without being mean?