I’m getting started with writing a regular column for The Good Men Project, so to introduce myself, I thought I would share my notes on a few characteristics that I believe both men and women would be wise to adopt and develop. For one thing, having a healthy sense of humor is wonderful and a popular trait to have, especially to laugh at your own foibles and not take yourself too seriously. Sometimes you might be the only one laughing. It goes for me too—I don’t take myself too seriously, except for times the occasional embarrassment or perceived insult that gets flung my way. Meaning—I have reacted regrettably.
Reacting defensively and offensively toward someone who called you out for your offensive behavior or an error in one way or another can incite an ugly altercation that can’t be retracted. For example, someone on Facebook posted a very unflattering picture of Mary Trump, Donald J. Trump’s mother, with sneering copy meant to be a joke that went on to suggest people tune into other programs on television during the inauguration to ensure that the ratings/viewership for the event is reported low by Nielsen (the company that officially reports television program audience data.)
I am not a Trump supporter, but it’s rude to use his mother’s picture to post insulting remarks about him. I posted a comment to that post on the fact that Nielsen only collects data from households with a Nielsen device installed, and that cable and satellite companies do not share their subscriber’s data with Nielsen. I decided to not include a comment on the offensive words and use of the photo in that post, but I was attacked and questioned in a reply from someone —I mentioned in my comment that I have experience in television for over ten years. I felt insulted but paused a few minutes before replying. I repeated to myself “When they go low, we go high,” the quote by Michelle Obama, then wrote a civilized reply stating it is their prerogative to question my experience and honesty, but the information is also available by googling Nielsen. Of course, the polite response I expect from that person would be to apologize for accusing me of posting lies and requiring me to validate my career background, but I won’t hold my breath…
This brings me to a fundamental element of politeness and character—an apology. Along with “please” and “thank you,” “I apologize” should be easy to say and write at the appropriate times. I know what I am about to write will enrage a few (maybe more than a few) when I note it’s been my experience that more men than women have a difficult time or forget to apologize for things they have done wrong and have hurt the feelings of another person. I apologize for making that generalization without doing a validated survey, however, in my experience, I have noticed more men are not apologetic when the situation calls for an “I’m sorry.” Though it could also be a cultural thing for men to resist saying “I’m sorry” to appear unemotional or masculine. Perhaps I’m mistaken, but wouldn’t men like to hear a sincere apology from men and women who have wronged them or hurt their feelings? If I’m wrong, I apologize.
The other day I was in the city of Beverly Hills, having lunch with a good friend of mine. I don’t live in Beverly Hills, but I always have pleasant experiences when shopping or dining when visiting there, unlike the scene in the film Pretty Woman, where the character played by Julia Roberts receives rude treatment by the sales associates in an upscale boutique. That scene set-up a confident conclusion that rudeness never pays when Julia Roberts returns, dressed to the nines, to deliver that message.
After lunch, I returned to the parking structure to get my car and there was an older gentleman who was dressed very stylishly in the foyer waiting for the elevator. I noticed he used a walker and had a caregiver with him. We greeted each other politely and warmly while we waited for the elevator. When the elevator arrived I waved to the gentleman and caregiver to go first. They were there before me and the man obviously had difficulties walking, so it was the right thing to do, but the gentleman—and I emphasize “gentleman”—said, “No, ladies first.” I thanked him, got in the elevator and held the door for him and his caregiver. That whole scenario made my day.
Elevators in large office buildings are good locations to measure and observe the degree of manners and politeness of women and men. It’s a place where “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me” should be used commonly and frequently. Again, I will offend some people when I say a lot of men are not familiar with the gentleman’s code of ethics. Actually, a lot of women can apply this code as “ladies always act like gentlemen.” One thing I am certain of is that women appreciate other women who act politely and I am sure men would like to be treated politely and kindly by other men. It’s not masculine or cool to be rude to your fellow man; it’s uncivilized.
Being part of a civilized society is being a gentleman and a lady toward everyone in every situation. Maintaining a civil demeanor when frustration rises in difficult circumstances requires a well-grounded character. It’s a contentious time with so many harsh, insulting and brutal words, images, and video that relentlessly comes at us to push our buttons and beckon us to fall from grace. None of it is funny, but a sense of humor is like the brakes on a runaway train of negativity. Not taking everything offensive too seriously makes it easier for you to access your gentlemen’s and ladies’ codes of ethics before you fall for negativity’s trick and take the high road instead.
Photo credit: Getty Images