A brief follow-up to my previous post…
Peer Pressure is very powerful.
Most of us are, and often rightly so, hesitant to speak up to people violating social etiquette. It’s often simply not worth it and just creates conflict where it’s not really necessary or beneficial.
But sometimes it is worth it.
My guess is that my speaking up to the folks who broke in line and hogged a bunch of tables in Ess-a-Bagel made an impression on them, and others, and that at least a few will be less likely to hog tables in the future, because they now realize how boorish their behavior was, or simply for fear of being called out.
I spend just about every morning, whatever city I’m in, in a café, writing. There are 2 or 3 that have become favorites and that I frequent fairly often. Besides really good cappuccino’s, I like a place where I can have some level of privacy for my laptop screen and where the noise is a sort of a non-distracting murmur.
Occasionally, if someone is talking a lot louder than others and keeps on and on with it, I’ll give them a look that usually gets the message across. If that doesn’t work I might ask them, nicely*, if they can use their inside voices. On several occasions I’ve been thanked by others for saying something to someone who was annoying many. In one café I was recently told that the annoyingly loud talking has noticeably decreased since I’ve been coming in there (and I’ll note that I rarely even say anything anymore). Apparently others have also taken up the ‘inside voice’ banner when I’m not there.
One particularly interesting comment was a gal telling me about a guy I’d said something to almost a year ago. His reaction at the time was to tell me to mind my own business (I responded that I was finding that difficult since he seemed so intent on making his business mine). She said that the next couple of times I came in he quickly quieted down and after a while began talking quieter all the time. Bravo!
My goal, by the way, isn’t to embarrass anyone but simply to communicate that their actions are negatively impacting others around them.
Full Disclosure: The loud talking thing is interesting because I’m far from innocent on this one. I don’t naturally talk very quietly and have had to very intentionally talk quieter so that I don’t annoy others.
What Would Jesus Do?
Well, I’m pretty confident he wouldn’t have acted like I did. Would he have said anything at all? Called down a lightning strike on the dude? I really don’t have a clue what he would have done. Sometime I hope to do a Bible study on Christ’s social etiquette.
One scenario I can imagine is one of his disciples effectively playing my role and then Jesus calmly saying to his disciple (and loud enough for those around to hear), “This man is ignorant of what he is doing, leave him be, he doesn’t know any better.” Likewise I can imagine Jesus totally berating his disciple for actions similar to mine with something like “Ignorant fool. Do you think you are better than this man? Do you never act boorish? Are you perfect in all ways?”
I’m not very good at allowing people to negatively impact me. If someone breaks in line I’m very likely to say something. Likewise if the kid (or adult) behind me on a plane is kicking the back of my seat, or any number of similar things. I don’t believe that being meek means rolling over, but has more to do with self-control and not loosing our cool or being an arrogant jerk. I could have exhibited a bit more meekness in Ess-A-Bagel and still gotten my point across.
* And nicer today than yesterday. My family has pointed out to me on a few occasions that my rather direct demeanor, while not intended to, can come across as anger.