Not once, but twice in the past week, I’ve heard people excuse what I consider bad behavior?
I was in need of a tree service. I called one about ten minutes from my home. He responded with a text asking me to text my address to him which I did, along with a request that he let my wife and I know when he’d be coming out so that we could discuss what we wanted done. His response: “Of course.” That was over a month ago, we still haven’t heard from him.
After a week or so of no response, I called another tree service. By the way, both have A+ ratings from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), no complaints on record there and both have been in business for more than a decade. I left a message for the second tree service. To this date, I have not received a response.
I mentioned this to two of my neighbors and both made excuses for these companies’ failures to respond.
Here’s my question: How have we come to be so tolerant of bad behavior that we excuse it?
Excusing = Enabling
I can only speculate as to why we excuse bad behavior. What I do know is that my guesses are often wrong; so I won’t devote any time or energy trying to answer the question. Instead, I’m going to devote the rest of this blog discussing the ramifications of excusing bad behavior.
Excusing bad behavior enables, and encourages, the offending party to continue their practice. With each bit of tolerance, they are likely to take advantage of that tolerance by extending their bad behavior to other practices.
I recently wrote a post entitled, In Every Human Interaction… (opens in a new link), in which I discuss that in every human interaction one person is training another how to behave. The blog highlights both the rights and responsibilities of being the trainer instead of the trainee. This message will help you avoid enabling bad behavior…behavior that only gets worse when you tolerate it.
What does this mean for you and your kids?
Instead of getting frustrated by bad behavior, yet tolerating it, you need to let the offending person know that their behavior is unacceptable.
If someone is being disrespectful, you can say “I respect your right to your opinion. I expect the same from you. I’m fine with you disagreeing with my idea, but I won’t tolerate personal attacks.” If they persist, you might offer them options like this: “You have two options: we can continue this discussion with each of us showing respect for one another or we can end this discussion now, which do you prefer?”
If you are being yelled at, cursed or demeaned, offer options: “You can either calm down, stop the abusive language and continue our discussion or I’ll leave, which do you prefer?”
You can use similar language when someone is repeatedly late. You can say: I respect your time and expect the same consideration from you. If that isn’t something you can commit to, I won’t continue to meet with you.
In the case of the two unresponsive companies mentioned at the opening, I sent a text to the first and left a voicemail message for the second letting them know that due to their lack of response, I found another vendor to perform the work. I doubt that they lost any sleep over the loss of my business, but at least I did what I could to alert them to the consequences of their behavior.
Some may consider this selfish behavior on my part, but the reality is that I’m helping people improve their relationships with others. Many have fallen into bad habits which they continue because no one has made them aware of the impact their behavior is having not only on the people with whom they interact, but on their own reputation.
People enjoy interacting with people who are respectful, calm, well-reasoned and prompt. By helping those with whom you interact avoid bad behavior, you’re helping them enjoy better relationships with all they meet.
The bottom line is that we help others as well as ourselves when we stop excusing, thereby encouraging, bad behavior.
For Our Kids
First, live this message and the kids in your life will mimic your behaviors. When they see you standing up for yourself, they’ll be inclined to do the same for themselves. In the process, they’ll develop a sense of self worth that not only serves them well, but sets examples for others as well.
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Readers would love to see your thoughts and experiences in a comment.
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