Monday, August 22, 2016

Catching flies or on being nice to people (8/22/2016)

Of late I’ve seen very little civility in public life.  I’ve written about it before in various blog posts <here>, <here>, and <here>, or look at my label section under tolerance.  Right now with the presidential elections in full swing there is at least one presidential candidate who’s every word is being followed; journalists are trying to figure out what outrageous thing he has said today or who he is making fun of.  His allies are desperately trying to urge him to stick to the teleprompter, but he is telling everyone that he is not going to change, that the people like who he is, as abrasive and uncivilized as ever.  I don’t need to use names, everyone knows who I mean, whether you like him or not.

While privately I may need to blow off steam so now and in public I try to be civilized and well mannered.  That is partially because I am in front of so many people.  Most of my readers know what I do for a living, or at least you think you do.  I am a teacher, an instructor; I develop courses and I travel throughout the state to teach them.  Hopefully I am a nice guy when I do that (actually, I am told I am an OK kinda guy).  

Ah, but I do more.  We have a certificate program and people need to pass an exam.  Once they are certified, they need to take classes that are relevant to keep up their certification and submit them to us.  I have the unlucky task to make sure that these courses are relevant.  This is where I often cannot be Mr. Nice Guy, and that bugs the hell out of me.

We have almost 4000 certificate holders and so there are a lot of courses to track.  Thank goodness we do this with 3 people, but I have to email the certificate holders when there is anything amiss.   I am finally at the end of 350 questionable courses that were submitted for review these past few months and let me tell you, for me this was the worst job I had in a long time.  Don't you just hate looking for things people do wrong?  Well I do!  I rather look for things people to right and compliment them for it!  I finished the other day and had three aural migraine attacks in one day after being migraine free for months.  Just coming down from the stress of it all.

So when I have to email them and deny them credit for a class, I try to do this with a smile on my face or at least in a nice email. (It still stresses me out.)  Why make them feel bad?  Some people don't care, like an ex-colleague of mine.  He was very hard nosed and  I'll call him Harry.  "Harry" I said one day, "be nice to people, it is easier to catch flies with honey than with vinegar." Harry looked at me and said: "But Jan, I don't want to catch flies."  The metaphor went completely over his head, he did not understand I actually meant people not, really flies.

The ultimate bug catcher, although he looks pretty docile, relaxed and friendly, he's a pretty fierce predator when you see him moving at night on our sliding door window.  This is how I see myself auditing people's re-certification efforts.

This is another way to catch flies.
But Harry is not alone, there are so many Harry-s out there.  The world is more and more lacking compassion.  Why is that?  Maybe part the explanation lies in what I read in this article about ecological economics.  In it Robert Costanza argues that the larger to difference is between income groups, the less cooperation we have between the groups, more competition, and less productivity.  The groups are spending a lot of resources on preserving what they have (sounds familiar, doesn't it? Our politicians are for sale to the highest bidders trying to preserve their wealth and class status.).  I think you could also conclude then that this is why we probably also have less compassion between groups, or just generally in this world.  We are more interested in protecting what we have than in helping each other.

Vinegar anyone?  It is an amazing world we live in, isn’t it?  

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