Monday, October 22, 2007

On Rudeness

My experience is that rude behavior is never forced upon people by circumstance. Some people are rude by nature, some people aren't. Don't tell me you have to be rude to people because of such and such. That's just rationalization.

I don't like rudeness , specially when I am at the receiving end of it
~ Anonymous

I never meet a person who says that He/She like rude people . Everyone wants to avoid a rude behavior . thats very understandable . What baffles me is people's perception of rudeness and the approach they
adopt to tackle with rude behavior. Most of the time people see rudeness as a personality trait .something in which you don't have a choice .something which is default to you . something as intrinsic to you as your skin . in short , majority of world thinks that Rude people are born rude or you can't do any thing about rude behavior of somebody who has passed a certain age .

I don't think so . I have seen enough of world to believe that rudeness is not a personality trait . its just a situational liberty which some of us exercise . simply saying people are rude because their surrounding
allow them to be rude and insensitive . they have no incentive or punishment for acting otherwise . that makes both actor and victim an equal partner in the act of rudeness.

So whenever someone is rude with me First question i ask to myself is

"What's there in my conduct which made this guy think that I deserve this or I will take this & how can i ensure that this doesn't happen again "

Fundamental Attribution Error : (FAE)

The fundamental attribution error (also known as correspondence bias or over attribution effect) is the tendency for people to over-emphasize dispositional, or personality-based, explanations for behaviors
observed in others while under-emphasizing situational explanations. In other words, people have an unjustified tendency to assume that a person's actions depend on what "kind" of person that person is rather than on the social and environmental forces influencing the person.
~ From Wikipedia

FAE is a powerful force . Our society have almost internalized this . Whether its a judicial system dealing with a criminal or a Church talking about Attaining Nirvana . Whether its a HR person discussing your performance appraisal or some issue where you disagree with your spouse . Whenever we analysis somebody's behavior ,we see the person in question as a separate , stand alone entity .

Psychology for the most part has been a study in dispositional analysis . We study individual , We study institution , but comparatively a very little research has been done on Individual inside a Institution .and whatever little study we have at our disposal is enough to shatter our understanding . some world famous psychological experiments like Stanford prison experiment has shown that there is very little of our action which is dispositional .

Recently I saw a video of a lecture by my favorite social scientist Dr. Philip Zimbardo . he was talking about "Lucifer Effect : How Good People Turn Evil ". Although his talk was mostly in context of Atrocities done by US soldiers in Abu Garibh but it is not very hard to extrapolate his teaching to our day to day life . I saw some similarity in the context of our understanding of Rude behavior . In his thesis Zimbardo explain how certain situations can lead our mind to believe that its OK to be cruel .

But You Can't Change Human Nature :

No Body can be changed by preaching , You are entitled to change only one person in this universe , that is you yourself ,
~Bhagwat Gita

Whenever I complain about rude behavior of people a lot of times I hear this line in reply ." You can't Change him/her . its His /her Nature" . It has been repeated too many time that sometime I tends to think if its true .

But I don't think its true . Human nature is not something you are born with ,we acquire it .Its not your skin tone or shape of your nose . Its just a set of rule , a code of conduct which we formulate to guide our action . our nature is dependent on conditioning .On what we see around us, how we are treated .what sort of people we deal with . Most of us have this false assumption that these exposers ,interactions leave a permanent effect and human being are not flexible /capable of changing their approach. They might not be open to change but they are surely capable of changing .

Some examples

I belong to a small city in Rajasthan named Sri Ganganagar . Most of the families in my neighborhood have one of their son/relative in UK/Canada . Every year i hear that one or two elderly parents have migrated to Canada to live with their kids . these people are in their late 50s or mid 60s. by any standard of conventional wisdom they are well past the age where they can change anything about there own thinking . Right ? Well................. Wrong .

On more than one occasion I have seen that these guys ,who seems to have strong opinion on Education, conduct,dress ,friend circle of female members of family in India , when they reach South hall they transform in to a Progressive mindset effortlessly . Drinking ,Dating , Late night parties are rampant among girls of UK based Indian and all of these old guys not only approve it but actually they are glad to be a part of it .

Funny......60 Years of "Nature" can easily be undone in 2 months . How ? Context and environment around them don't allow these guys to take liberty .

Australian feels pride in declaring them self as aggressive and say that rudeness is part of their culture . they use this justification to explain why their players pushed a senior Indian leader .I seriously doubt if they would have done the same with Queen of England . so much for Rudeness in DNA argument .

Google wants to provide free access to information to people every where . They refuse to alter the search result even if it hurts the sentiments of Jew . but they accepted the censorship terms with China . so much for mission & value statement . China didn't offer an option and Google Complied .

In 1984 New York city was suffering from a very high crime rate and vandalism on Subway trains . Subway was considered very very unsafe . so much so that Bernhard Goetz became a symbol of New Yorkers' frustrations with a high crime rate when he shot four muggers intent on robbing him on subway train in Manhattan . To deal with this problem Police department of New York city took a radically different approach called Broken Window Theory . Basic premise of Broken Window Theory is that if you change the environment or surrounding of people . you can effectively control their tendency to commit crime .

We don't need speedy justice , we don't need stringent law , we need better enforcement . the whole environment should act as a damper to the urge of committing crime . so in order to solve the problem Police
Department , started removing graffiti from walls of subway stations and trains. their top priority was to make subway look exceptionally clean and managed . this had an magical effect . crime rate fall down drastically .

My point behind giving all these examples is that if change in situation / Surrounding can cause a different behavior in people in old age , Giant Organizations like Google, Proud to be rude people of Australia, Crime struck New York city . than why can't we expect to see a similar change in the behavior of rude guys around us .

Your Land Lord, Your Manager , The Guy at convenience store, Your Spouse . Why we are always so hell bent to accept it as "Nature" . is it FAE at work ? is it our aversion to act and escapism to see the reality ? or is it really something one is born with . what do you say ?

Word of caution

Article like this are provocative . they force you to rethink your assumption & steers up the emotion. things are complicated if you are in the receiving end of such behavior for sometime . I know an incedient where someone read a post of mine and had a fight with a colleague . He repent badly for his immature act . My experience is that such spontaneous out burst are not sustainable . you want to change people's behavior and conduct toward you ? than accept that it won't be done overnight . its a painfully slow process

Be very careful in your judgment about Rude behavior . is it a one off incident ...than its ok. We all have a bad day now and again maybe you just bumped into them while they were stuck at a low point. Problem is if its a recurring pattern. than you know its time to change circumstances . Because its not about him only its about You too.

1 comment:

Shikha said...

After office in our cab, we have a cab-mate who is completely arrogant, egoistic and last but not the least rude.
Though, he has initially created a hell lot of problems in the cab, I safely made it a point to overlook. Finally for the past 6 months, he has learned his lessons to not trouble the cab.
Anyways, my point is, a person who have chosen a nature to remain rude most of the times (for sure, he can't use the same trait in front of his seniors). Where a person see no threat to his/her securities, they succumb to their basic nature.
But for sure, I am not the one who ever want to change him, the least i can do is, to stick to the nature I have chosen, ie to stay merry and smiling all the time. :-)
Oh, by the way, read this story, which flashed in my mind, on reading this blog