In all areas of life, whether you are wanting to branch out on your own, or continue working for someone else, or simply walk down the street without getting murdered, you have to deal with people. No matter how much we may wish to, there is just no getting around it. Even Tammylan the hermit will at some point in his existence have to ask for the assistance of his cable provider to get his NFL Sunday Ticket. We have to deal with our partners, our friends, our families, our business folks (co-workers or clients, suppliers or bosses) and people we run into during the course of our daily lives. Even when we grit our teeth in annoyance, we have to maintain positive relationships with other people as we go about our days, or else life will be monumentally negative.
The thing is, we all think we’re amazing. I can’t say it’s never happened, but it’s rare to come upon a person who will openly admit he/she is an asshole and just keep on truckin’. Most of us think we’re pretty good people, even if we’re prone to making some mistakes along the way. In fact, most of us consider ourselves damn awesome. And, most of us are pretty cool. But there are some behaviors that some of you (and I’m not necessarily exempt myself) perpetually engage in that are damaging to your relationships with others, and you may not even know it. But if you are hoping to create a lifestyle of freedom that includes working for yourself, you would be wise to cease and desist, or life will be markedly more difficult, and success will be far slower in coming. Be warned.
1. Being chronically late.
There seems to be an endless battle between the people who are perpetually late, and those who value punctuality. You know who you are. If any of you have experienced people close to you moaning and bitching about your constant tardiness, don’t just blow them off as being uptight. Because they’re not.
This is what goes on in the mind of someone who is waiting on your sorry ass:
Five minutes late: “Oh okay, they’re just a few minutes late. I’m sure they’re just running behind. Maybe they got a phone call or traffic was bad, but since he/she hasn’t called, I won’t worry.”
Ten minutes late: “Well, I wonder what’s holding them up? I hope everything is okay.”
Fifteen minutes late: “Sigh… WTF? Why they haven’t called to let me know? He/She has my number. How friggin’ rude.”
Twenty minutes late: “I’ll call him/her.” [Calls] You: “Hey, what’s up?” One Who Waits: “Seriously? So you’re NOT dead? Where are you? I’ve been waiting for twenty minutes.” You: “I just left. I’m on my way.” One Who Waits: “You just LEFT? Why didn’t you call to let me know you were going to be late? I’ve been sitting here looking like a moron waiting for you. Not to mention, we’ve missed our reservation/the start of the show/the doors are now locked.” You: “Oh relax. [e n d l e s s l i t a n y o f p a t h e t i c e x c u s e s]. I’m on my way now. I’ll see you in a little bit.” One Who Waits: Click.
Thirty-five minutes late: “Where the fuck is that asshole? I have better things to do than stand here. I’ll give him/her five more minutes and then I’m going.”
Forty minutes late: “Screw you motherfucker. You’re on your own.” [Leaves]
You finally show up: “What an uptight bastard/bitch! I can’t believe he/she didn’t wait. I said why I was late, why is it always the same? [I don’t know. Why IS it always the same??] NOW what am I going to do? He/she just doesn’t understand that things come up! Sometimes a person can’t just leave the middle of Grand Theft Auto/an Ebay auction for Louboutin boots when you’re actually winning! Why can’t people understand that???”
I don’t know. Why can’t you understand that when you treat people this way, you make yourself not worth waiting for?
You’re the dick for not learning better time management skills, and being repeatedly dismissive of other people’s time, and then being abusive to them for calling you out on it.
That’s a triple whammy of dickness, folks.
When your selfish behavior requires that other people have to maneuver their lives around to accommodate your sloppiness, the taint is on you. Not them. I read quite a funny article written by a guy who has a problem with lateness – you might enjoy it here: “Why I’m always late”. The chronic dissers of punctuality will probably relate to it. But, at the end, he does acknowledge:
“So yeah, that’s why I’m late—because I’m insane. Don’t excuse the CLIPs [Chronically Late Insane Person] in your life—it’s not okay and they need to fix it—but remember, it’s not about you. They have problems.”
In the end, most people will just stop working with you/hanging out with you/inviting you to things, because you simply don’t know how to behave.
No one thinks you’re funny or quirky, they think you’re a moron. It’s your choice.
2. You just don’t show up.
Argh, I never understand these people. Never. It is not in any way okay to stand someone up, whether it’s a date you’re not excited about, or a client you’re not sure of. And canceling two minutes before you’re supposed to arrive is not acceptable. Unless you’ve been hit by a bus, in this day of constant and wearing connectivity, there are no excuses that are good enough.
You can call. You can text. You can email. You can hire a skywriter. It’s just basic politeness.
Every time you make an excuse for not showing up, what the other person is hearing is that they are just not as important to you as whatever else you gave your time to. Do that enough, and you’ll find no one showing up for you. And I bet that won’t feel so good, regardless of their excuses.
What’s more, these days you don’t know who they know. With our social media and far-reaching friend lists, everyone is less than six degrees of separation away. And you just might find that when you really want to impress someone, your reputation precedes you.
3. You are always making promises and then breaking them.
Nobody likes someone who doesn’t follow through. No one likes someone who lets them down. When you do this, you are advertising super loudly that your word isn’t worth squat.
You’re telling everyone you are a liar.
That may not be your intention, but it is what is happening.
When you say you are going to do something, no matter how big or small, you are creating a contract of trust. The other party is expecting you to follow through with what you said you were going to do, and if you don’t, you break that trust with the other person. Not to mention, you are seriously affecting the other person negatively by letting them down. They have to come up with another plan, now that you have failed to keep your end of the bargain.
Backing out as a regular means of operation will make people think you are pathetic and weak, or that you are simply incapable of managing your own life. Or worse, that you’re an inconsiderate and thoughtless pratt. And they won’t be able to rely on you for anything. Ever. You don’t want that, do you?
If you have a hard time telling someone “no” when you can’t or don’t want to do something, and then you let them down at the moment of truth, then it is going to be very difficult to have melodious relationships with others.
Chances are, you’ll have a lot of people yelling at you and hitting you with sticks.
You have to have some honor. You have to have some integrity. And for the love of God, you have to have some backbone. Say what you will do and then do what you say, even if you don’t feel like it when the time comes to do it. No excuses, no whining. Otherwise, people will walk away from you permanently. And you’ll always be sitting there wondering what happened.
4. You make everything about you.
This one is a tough one to be aware of, because often we don’t realize just how self-absorbed we are. We’re just operating as normal, and we don’t notice that we seem to bring everything back to ourselves, even when it’s completely irrational.
My brother recently wanted me to send my social security number to him over email (there was a good reason for needing it, but that is not the point). Now of course, being self-absorbed, he assumed I didn’t want to do it because I didn’t trust him with that sensitive information. Um… no, that wasn’t it. But he made it about him.
That was his first go-to reaction, and as a result, he was unforgivably rude and nasty to me (as narcissists tend to be).
It didn’t even remotely occur to him that there might be an intelligent, logical reason that had nothing to do with him why I wouldn’t want to email him my SSN. Maybe it was because email is about the most insecure method of communication on the planet, save for a billboard on the interstate. It never occurred to him that maybe I just didn’t want everyone at Google to read my email and see my SSN and be able to open ten credit cards in my name. Hm.
Nope, he thought it was about him. And we haven’t spoken since.
Everything people do is not about you. Every decision or remark someone makes is not about you. If a someone decides not to work with you, there is about a 10% chance they don’t like you, but really, there is a 90% chance it’s because your product does not fulfill their needs. It’s not always about you.
When you make everything about you, you alienate people – especially clients. Remember, people want it to be all about THEM (especially clients). Think about your average car salesman. When is buying a car ever about you? Isn’t it always about the sale guy making a commission? And how fun is it to buy a car? About as fun as setting fire to your bra.
If you are that kind of person who always makes every interaction with another human being about you and your needs, life is going to be pretty sad. And lonely.
5. You are completely and totally unaware of how your behavior affects others.
This is another one that can be difficult, because it requires the arduous and tiring exercise of self-awareness. I know this is hard for everyone, to be aware. It takes conscious effort, and dammit, we’re just too busy thinking of ourselves to be aware of anything else around us.
But think about when you’re engaging in the very pleasurable act of…. driving.
How mad do you get when someone cuts you off? Are you screaming in your mind already? Yeah, I know. You want to pull out the AK47 hiding under your passenger seat and blow their head off. You just hate it that that DICK is so unaware of all the other drivers around them, especially you! Well my friends, that’s been you a time or two as well.
And I’m not talking just about driving, I’m talking about all areas of our lives. We just aren’t paying attention to the people and things around us as we go about our days, and as a result, we just don’t know how many people we’re hurting as we bulldoze our way along. But boy do we hate it when anyone else is doing the same thing, right?
Start noticing the ripple effect of your behaviors and actions and see how they touch other people. When you are wrapped up in your own little world, not paying attention to those around you, it can get precarious. Things like not watching where you are going, talking loudly on your phone in public, slamming a door behind you but in front of another person, being so caught up in your own problems that you don’t notice others, blindly stealing someone’s cab right in front of them.
Be careful. You might not give a damn in the moment about anyone else but yourself, but you just never know who is hiding a flame-thrower under their passenger seat.
6. You don’t take responsibility for your own life (i.e. you always blame someone/something else for the bad stuff).
I love this one. I knew a guy who always blamed every single girl he went out with for why he was always dumped. Yeah dude, you’re the common denominator here. Think you have anything to do with it? Anything? Maybe even just the fact that you keep dating people who don’t like you?
The same concept applies when you argue that you can’t leave your job to create a life of freedom. No one is keeping you in your place except you. You, and your choices. The reality is, if you never look at your behavior and your actions from an objective perspective (i.e. not your own), you will never have the power to change anything. Your life will manifest an endless sense of impotency and inadequacy because you will always believe something outside of yourself is controlling you and your life. Not so, my friend.
The minute you take responsibility for every situation is the minute you start the path of success. Because then you decide. You control. You win.
Not to mention, when you are always blaming something outside of yourself for your problems, you come across as a baby. A weakling. A whiner. Any of that sound impressive? Attractive? Successful? I didn’t think so.
So the next time you get a notice that your health insurance rates are going up again (which is totally not your fault), decide to take responsibility for the situation. Decide to own it. Decide you are not a victim of the big bad insurance companies and their thirsty greed. And go find another carrier! You can do that you know. In fact, I just saved $170 a month by switching to Geico. No, that’s a lie, I didn’t switch to Geico. But, I did switch health insurance carriers and I did save $170 a month. But if I’d just sat there and cried about how the world sucks and it’s all everyone else’s fault, I wouldn’t have a more padded wallet to speak about. Take responsibility!
7. You don’t exercise generosity.
When everything you do for another person has to have a return back to you (other than the pleasure of giving), you are not being generous. If you buy someone a gift in the hopes that they’ll do something for you, that’s not giving. That’s contracting a deal. When you pay someone a compliment with the intention of getting one back, that’s not giving, it’s fishing. When you only spend time with someone in the hopes that they work with you later, that’s not giving, that’s negotiating. When you only show affection in the hopes of getting sex, that’s not love, it’s coercion. When you offer your help to someone in the hopes that they’ll do something for you later, that’s not giving, that’s creating a debt.
No one likes to be manipulated, and when you only offer yourself with the intention of getting something tangible back, that’s all it is. And people can feel it. They can feel that contracting energy and it’s unpleasant.
They don’t want to feel a sense of obligation every time you offer something.
A lot of us do this. We only want to extend ourselves as long as it’s an investment with a perceivable return. As long as we are certain we’ll get something back for the effort. It doesn’t work. People don’t like it, and they don’t like you for it.
If you want to give something, give it freely, even if there is risk attached. Just do it. I know, I know, you gave everything to some schlep you loved and they took off with your heart and the shirt off your back. We’ve all got a story like that, but that’s not a reason to stop giving. It’s just not. Give anyway.
Or, you know, be alone with all your stuff.
8. You have bad manners.
I’ve noticed people today don’t know about good manners. I even watch my own generation neglect teaching their children about decent manners. What ever happened to Emily Post? She needs to make a comeback.
Learn how to use a knife and fork, people. There is nothing more revolting than watching someone stab their steak with a fisted left hand while grinding at it and the plate with the knife in their right hand. Eventually the steak just flies across the plate and on to the table. Really?
Eat with your mouth CLOSED. Don’t glug your beer and blow out a huge burp when you’re done. Not even at BW’s. It’s gross.
When you’re finished with your meal, put your knife and fork together in the middle of the plate. Don’t leave them laying precariously on the side of the plate (or worse, laying on the tablecloth) so when the waiter picks it up your utensils fly onto the floor. Come on, people.
Say please and thank you. Just DO IT.
Return phone calls or texts or emails in a timely manner. Leaving someone hanging is just a power play and everyone knows it. No one likes it when people play games with them. Do you? If you’re just SO BUSY that you can’t return communications, then I guess I’m just too busy to waste my time with you. Sayonara!
Don’t wear your nightwear out in public, or look (and smell) like you just got out of bed. I have no idea why this practice has become commonplace, but don’t get caught doing it. Before you know it, your next potential client or lover is going to see you. Just don’t do it (unless you’re going to Home Depot or Walmart, and then all bets are off).
When you’re with someone, show genuine and active interest in them. Quit with the phone already! Is anything on Facebook really more interesting than the person you’re with? Really??? Then go the fuck home and get on Facebook. But don’t waste someone else’s time. Don’t be watching tv, or watching other people. If anyone or anything else is more interesting to you than the person you’re with, don’t be surprised if that person ups and leaves you sitting there like an idiot. Because for sure, you’re being more boring than they ever could be.
Lastly, be kind and attentive to others. If you are ever dismissive of service staff, talk over people when they’re speaking, or constantly blather on about yourself without ever asking your conversation partner a question, you’re being rude. You’re being self-involved. You’re practicing bad manners. And you’re being really really tiresome. The next time you’re with someone, pay attention to whether you are doing any of these things. A really good conversation involves two lively people. If your partner isn’t contributing anything, chances are you’re dominating the conversation and boring your partner. Be attentive. Engage the other person.
So the bottom line is, we all need to check ourselves. I’m not suggesting you can’t make mistakes, or that you will die if you engage in any of these behaviors ever. No one expects perfection from another human being.
It’s when any of these behaviors becomes a way of life for you that it will be a problem.
Not just for the people around you, but for YOU.
So if any of your intended behaviors could affect someone or something in a negative way, just rethink engaging in it. Or, stop it altogether.
Having creative excuses for your bad behavior doesn’t work, even if on the surface it seems that it does. It doesn’t. People aren’t dumb. They know what you’re doing. And eventually, they’ll just let you go. They’ll move on. You might be charming enough to find some other sap to stay with you for another while, but sooner or later they’ll move on as well.
Check yourself. If you don’t want people to think you’re a dick, make sure you’re not acting like one.