Rude? Who me? you ask. In case there’s any question, here are some of the ways people communicate disrespect, disregard, and unconcern to each other at home in personal and social situations:
- not speaking to others when you enter a room
- failing to return a greeting when someone speaks to you
- not telling a family member where you’re going or how you can be reached in an emergency
- not telling someone when you expect to return
- borrowing others’ things without asking
- not returning items in good condition after borrowing them
- sulking and not talking when you’re in a bad mood
- using a harsh tone when speaking or responding to a question or comment
- slamming a door in someone’s face
- not writing down phone messages, assuming you’ll remember—and then forgetting to pass them on
- leaving food and beverages sitting around in common areas
- not offering to help others carry a heavy load
- not offering to lower the volume if a loud noise is disturbing others
- switching TV channels without asking when someone else is watching
- using sarcasm or put-down humor meant to embarrass others on sensitive issues
- failing to say please and thank you or express other pleasantries such as asking how others are feeling when they’ve been sick or asking how their day has gone
These represent just the basic discourteous behaviors that colleagues or friends would never expect from us at work. But on the job, these additional small acts of rudeness annoy, demean, and eventually weaken or break a relationship and lessen our influence:
- showing up late to a meeting and disrespecting others’ time
- speaking to some people but not others in a group
- “dressing someone down” in front of others so as to embarrass and humiliate that person
- excluding others from a group when getting together for breaks or for lunch simply because you feel they are not equal to you socially or intellectually
The opposite of these actions, of course, are the small kindnesses that convey respect for others, lift their spirits, build their self-esteem, make a heartache lighter, and increase your influence with them when you have an important belief or value to share.
You might want to consider the following tests in identifying dents in your communication style with family and close friends:
Test 1: Would I want someone to capture this home behavior in the corporate newsletter or post a video on YouTube?
Test 2: Would I be hesitant for my family members to talk candidly with my work colleagues and tell them what it’s like living and communicating with me at home?
Test 3: What would my family members say about me at a roast on my next birthday—if they were completely honest?
Test 4: If I watched a movie starring myself, would I like the main character?
Over time, communicating respect through words and actions can pry open a closed mind and hard heart.
Dianna Booher, an expert in executive communications, is the author of 46 books, published in 26 countries and 20 languages. Her latest books include Creating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think, and Act Like a Leader and Communicate with Confidence, Revised Edition. As CEO of Booher Consultants and as a high-caliber keynote speaker, Dianna and her staff travel worldwide to deliver focused speeches and training programs to address specific communication challenges and increase effectiveness in oral, written, interpersonal, and organizational communication. www.booher.com
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