Wednesday, March 16, 2011
We've lost it in the workplace, and we've lost it in the social arena too. Etiquette, that is.
People are too afraid of being honest for fear that it may come across as being unkind or rude, and then there are those who teeter over the edge of the opposite extreme by being totally obnoxious in the belief that being polite or honest simply no longer works.
One of my clients is in the finance business. More specifically, he finances high net-worth individuals for projects which banks may find too risky for their appetites. I was with him earlier this week and we were discussing some projects he had for me, when we were suddenly interrupted by a woman who seemed clearly annoyed at not being given the attention she thought she deserved. She proceeded to rant about how important she was and how much business she brought to the establishment. In truth all she wanted was to be treated like royalty simply because she felt she spent her money like royalty.
My client listened intently for a few minutes, and then politely escorted her to his PA (at which point I thought he was going to get on his knees and proceed to lick her butt-hole). He then instructed his PA in the most polite manner thus: "Please close Ms X's account down with immediate effect. She's obviously too important for us."
Ms X stood there gob smacked. I smiled smugly and my client simply called me into his office for some more exquisite tea.
Now that's how you handle someone who thinks money trumps etiquette.
On the social scene, I'm one of those people who thinks the best revolutionary pick of the decade has got to be Twitter. I think Facebook is part of a dying trend, one that may end up sharing the same bin with MySpace.
The downside to having all this brilliant social media at our fingertips is that we're always in contact, and Blackberry's haven't helped make personal space any roomier either.
We've become a society that no longer believes in personal space or private time. We accept calls and emails after hours and on weekends while with our families and loved ones. We're at work 24/7.
I've started turning my Blackberry off randomly at night, for a few hours until sunrise. Ultimately I want to be able to turn it off at 5pm, and turn it back on at 8am the next morning. I don't want to be available like an all-night hooker. I want to take back control of "Me" time, and dictate when I'm available.
I think the next revolution will be one where we fight for our personal freedoms of a different kind. The freedom to be unavailable.The freedom to be unreachable. The freedom to have our mobile phones and Blackberry's turned off at will and not be questioned about it when we turn them back on. I took a weekend break from social media once. I turned my mobile phone off. I didn't log on to the internet all weekend. I refused to update my Facebook status or send a single Tweet.
By Monday morning, people were posting messages of condolence on my Blog and Facebook.
They assumed because they hadn't heard from me for longer than 24 hours, I must have died.
Che' Guevara fought for freedom and liberty.
I'm fighting for my sanity.