Monday, November 29, 2010

Golden Age of Rudeness

Welcome to the Golden Age of Rudeness.

Yes, it is true. You have been living in an age in which rudeness is a normative behavior. It is likely that you may have been treated rudely at sometime today. Or you may have been rude to someone else and not even noted it because it is just what we do.

We have lost our sense of manners, never mind politeness.  And this is true of our students and ourselves. Captain Kangaroo would be so depressed. All he asked is that we be polite to one another. Please. Thank you. That’s all. Thank you rather than f%k you.

We live in a very uncivil time. A time when our so-called leaders don’t lead but degrade another. A time when decorum is gone. When doing good is replaced with doing what is good for me.   

A time when it is not only accepted to publicly insult the president and the office, but it seems to de rigeur. And there is pride and support that follows rather than shame and indignity. Heckling at the State of the Union address leads not to censure but to support and fund raising. Heckling of the university president as she addresses the faculty meeting has also become acceptable. Is there much difference? Perhaps in the level of public exposure but it show the same disrespect for the person and the office.

We have lost our way. We do not show respect for others. And that occurs on our campus as well and what is worse is we can be the perpetrators. We who are to positive role models to students  have become as rude as they are.  Ignoring a student who stands before your desk because you “are busy doing something.” Not showing up for office hours when students expect you so they might get some extra help to succeed. Not helping a student who you know is in trouble with a problem.  Letting the phone ring in the office because it is not my turn to pick it up. Not returning voice mails or emails. Using language when talking to a colleague or student that shows a level of disrespect for the other.  Doodling, writing, reading, texting while a colleague or an administrator is talking because you just don’t care what he has to say. Ignoring one another or students when we walk in the halls or across campus. Coming to a meeting late or not at all then holding the committee up because you do not agree with what they concluded at the missed meeting. Answering our phones when with a colleague or student. And letting one student disrupt a class or come in late or text or show disrespect to you and the rest of the class.

Or not bothering to acknowledge a job application. Or getting back to those who were being considered for a position- even finalists - with a ‘dear occupant” rejection. Or even worse with a generic email. How depressing. Or not getting back at all.

And of course all the gossiping and slandering we do behind the back of another. My goodness, academic love to natter away with some rather outrageous hearsay, rumor and slander mongering. And how do I know, not simply because I have observed and heard but I participated too. It was just part of academic culture. When colleagues got together it was for a bitch session about this one or that one.

Yes, we can be rude too. And yet we can get upset when our students who are to learn from us are also rude. They live in a rude society and we are part of that. So if we want our student to become less rude we need to do the same.

Becoming less rude
So how do we start? Simple. Recall Captain Kangaroo and do what we try to get our children to do. Start by saying please, thank you and you’re welcome. Do it long enough and it may become a habit you once had.

Avoid looking for the negative in people.
Be patient with others.
Realize others could be competent too.
Try to stay out of the campus gossip.
Return voicemails.
Answer emails
Use academic not street language.
Show respect for others.
Hold the door for someone.
Be there for students and others with a smile on your face.
Don’t accept rudeness as the way things are.

Then smile as if you are happy and as you walk through the halls say hello to people. In fact, make it a goal to say hello to at least ten people you do not know. Ask people how they are and listen to them. If they could use some help, help them.

This is just a start. Will it change students for the better? Maybe after a while and a concerted effort from everyone. But it will change you and that is a grand start.

Tell us about rudeness at your school and how you and others are working to end it.

If you found this article had some merit, you may want to read more about how not to be rude, providing good academic customer service and Captain Kangaroo in the best selling book The Power of Retention: More Customer service in Higher Education by this article's author, Neal Raisman.

Order a copy through the Administrators Bookshelf NOW


Anonymous said...

Cet article est très intéressant, surtout depuis que je suis la recherche d'idées sur ce sujet jeudi dernier.

Anonymous said...

I have wanted to post something like this on my website and this gave me an idea. Cheers..

Anonymous said...

In university settings, when the student reacts rudely, should the university essentially use that as a coaching opportunity to inform the student that their conduct is inappropriate? Or should universities adapt the business customer service model that the customer is always right, and should not be "reprimanded" for expressing their discontent in an inappropriate manner?