I’m irked by the oblivious behavior of some people who treat others with a lack of respect because they always prioritize their needs.
A short while ago I attended a 3-day conference. The conference was more technical than most, and I had to really concentrate to ensure that I could understand much of the material. I sat at the front to make sure that I caught everything that was said. As usual, there were many open seats at the front, and I generally had my pick of good ones. Very early in one presentation I noticed a photographer who kept moving in front of me to photograph the presenters. It was impossible to miss her – not only did she block my view at times, but the clicking of the shutter on her camera was more than mildly annoying. She did this throughout the day, never once asking permission or apologizing for her disturbance. I found myself loathing her and her bad manners and negatively anticipating her further interruptions.
Who does that?
Who was this person that she was so oblivious to my and others’ existence and her disruption of our concentration and line of sight? It would have been impossible for her to not notice that she was infringing on our enjoyment of the various speakers, but she behaved as if she had the right to do so.
Well, it turns out, she is a type. We see her on the drive to work. She is the person who moves into our lane as if we weren’t there. No signal or warning is necessary for her to make her move. We have to watch out for her and allow her to rule the road. She can weave in and out of traffic at will, and we need to stand aside and let her make her way.
We see her in the store. She interrupts our conversations with salespeople to ensure that her critical needs are looked after first. She apologizes briefly and indicates that she will take just a moment – and proceeds to take whatever time is necessary to get what she needs. She pushes ahead of us in line because she only has one item to pay for. She apologizes as she moves to the front of the line, but move she does.
A very important person
I can only surmise that for this type of person her own importance and her perceived importance of her work and needs justify her behavior. I suspect she never stops to think about her impact on others – that would mean she would have to care and possibly adjust her behavior. This thinking could prompt her to demote herself in importance, and that simply isn’t something she is inclined to do.
Think that this is just women? My experience says that this isn’t so. As an example, a short time ago I was talking to a staff member in a pro shop at a golf course when, without warning, a highly recognizable individual, known for his books and motivational speeches, interrupted and stepped right in front of me to ask his critically urgent question. It wasn’t so urgent in my view, but he was in and out with his question answered before I could protest and insist on my priority.
Lack of respect
If I think about these behaviors, I conclude that it comes back to a lack of respect. I don’t mean disrespect – I mean that the individuals involved never stop to think about their position relative to that of others. They simply don’t think about how to position themselves relative to other people. Or if they do consider it, they come out on top and push forward to get their objectives met. They lack respect for others and their needs.
I advocate neither being a pushover – being someone’s doormat just doesn’t feel good – nor hypervigilant – too negative and too much work. Instead, I decide how to handle these situations on a case-by-case basis. I don’t have the energy to police the behavior of others, but I do have the nerve, in particular circumstances, to speak up and ask if the line crashers have noticed the rest of us waiting in line. Asking a question is often effective, particularly in those situations where people simply have not noticed a queue and are apologetic when joining the line.
While I cannot manage the behavior of others, I can pay attention to my own. This means being observant and thinking about how my behavior may impact others as I move through my day completing my priorities. Oblivion isn’t an option. I need to be conscious and respectful.