Do You Really Care?
I was in a supermarket café last week and the guy that served me was very pleasant but after he’d taken my order, someone who I think might have been his Line Manager asked how we was and he said “I’m dying” and coughed, the germs from which I very much hoped wouldn’t end up in my cappuccino! Two things struck me; one, that he was using very extreme language for what looked like a cold but I guess we’ve all done that, and two, that the fella he was talking to didn’t flinch when he heard those words. There was literally nothing in his body language or tone to imply that he even cared that his member of staff was struggling or that it was possibly having an impact on the quality of service to me, the customer. Outrageous! It’s all about me obvs! ?
Do we feel that we need to use more extreme language in order to get noticed I wonder? I know that 20 years ago, I struggled to get heard when I was stressed out and once received the reply “we’re all stressed!” which was hugely helpful I started to use the phrase “I’m struggling” and that seemed to resonate more with people but maybe we’ve used them all up in the last 20 years, those phrases that resonate. Because if ‘I’m dying’ doesn’t make an impact any more then I’m not quite sure where this is heading.
I suppose at the root of all this is one thing. Are we asking questions of people when we really don’t care about the answer? Are we still polite and courteous to people because we live in a fairly civil society and there are professional and social expectations of how business and personal relationships work but actually we’re starting to pay lip service to some of those questions, like ‘how are you?’. In response, people are starting to use more extreme language in order to get noticed but what they actually notice is that it still doesn’t get them anywhere and so they disengage, don’t go the extra mile and phone in sick more often. I would love to go back to the café to see if that guy was in work the next day. Getting a very weak response when he said ‘I’m dying’ probably didn’t make him feel all cuddly and loved I’m thinking.
But there are other factors aren’t there? Maybe that guy says ‘I’m dying’ every time someone asks how he is, or always has something wrong with him so people have de-sensitised to his extreme language. It’s all a bit chicken and egg isn’t it? The language has become more extreme because people don’t have the time or inclination to respond and so the language used gets ramped up another notch to try and gain someone’s attention. I think we may have peaked now though.
I’ve heard young girls say ‘if I can’t do ****** (whatever that is) I’m gonna die!’ and having had a friend that died at the age of 40 I find that really difficult to hear. I know it’s just a phrase they use and that parents have been telling their children for years ‘if you do that again, I’ll kill you!’ and it’s all in the tone and delivery but we definitely are using more extreme language these days but to less effect it seems. So if we’re de-sensitised to the use of more extreme language how does someone register themselves on your radar for concern? Whether that be your child, partner, a family member, friend or colleague. What do they need to say to you to register their worries, fears, stress level, health problem, inability to cope or concern for others? If you are present, you will hear them but if you’re not really listening, you don’t really care or feel you don’t have time to care then where are those people going to go for support? And who will listen to you when you’re struggling?
I feel like my recent blogs are all alluding to the same thing; our community spirit, willingness to help others and general good will has diminished. In local communities we’re much less likely to know and say ‘hello’ to our neighbours and the goodwill of colleagues is seeping away because there’s less time for making connections and sharing experiences. I’m not proposing that we go back to the 1950’s and leaving the back door unlocked but I think we could definitely do with being kinder, to ourselves and each other by using kind, compassionate and supportive language and challenging the use of more extreme language. “Are you really dying or do you just feel a bit poorly ick? Is there anything I can do to help?”. If you care enough to ask, the answer may well be ‘no’ and you can move on, hoorah!! But at least you asked. And that could well build you some good will for when you need something, which could make a difficult day a lot easier, so it’s worth the investment.
Give it a go eh? I’d love to know if you think it’s making a difference.
Take good care please and have a great day.
Best wishes, Karen