Friday, 5 October 2012
People With A Situational Value System
Article comes from http://workplacepsychology.net/ written by Steve Nguyen. Unfortunately I think I know too many of these types...
The other night, my wife and I were at a very nice hotel here in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. We went with our family to enjoy a show and prior to attending it, decided to get some coffee.
As we were standing in line waiting (we were second in line) at a busy one-person coffee stand, the woman waiting behind us (she was third in line) yelled out, “Can I go ahead and pay for this?” It didn’t matter to her that two other people (the first lady in line and us) were ahead of her in this ordering process.
I forgot what “this” was. It might have been a bottle of water or something small. But pretty much everyone else waiting patiently in line was ordering something small. After she interrupted and cut in line, she made some disparaging remarks about the single employee working there.
My wife and I both used to work as waiters and thus we’re especially sensitive to and aware of how we (and others often) treat waiters, waitresses, or anyone in a people service profession (e.g., hotel maids, bellmen, etc.). When I see behaviors like this woman’s, it brings me back to the time years ago when I worked as a waiter for a restaurant in Austin.
I didn’t know it at first, but quickly realized, as the other wait staff informed me, that I was waiting on a baseball celebrity and his family. Ok, no sweat, I’ll just make sure that I’m at my best and take care of them as I’ve done so with many customers in the past.
Because the family was busy visiting and chatting loudly, I stepped back to give them time to decide what they wanted to order. Not long afterwards, the wife snapped her fingers (like a rich person does when she beckons her servants) at me. After the family ordered, she dismissed me (like “I’m done with you now leave my sight” type of attitude).
In “Dave Barry Turns 50,” Barry (1999) shared 25 things in 50 years in his life. #21 he says:
“A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter, or to others, is not a nice person”(Barry, 1999, p.177).
“Watch out for people who have a situational value system, who can turn the charm on and off depending on the status of the person they are interacting with…Be especially wary of those who are rude to people perceived to be in subordinate roles.”(Bill Swanson, former CEO Raytheon)
I think this advice should be taken very seriously, especially by those in a supervisory or management role. In the USA Today article (cited below), Siki Giunta (CEO of Managed Objects, but who previously worked as a bartender) summed this up well when she said that this type of situational behavior is a good predictor of a person’s character because it’s not something you can learn or unlearn easily, instead it shows how you were raised.
So whether it’s ordering coffee on a Saturday night or interacting with employees at work on a Monday morning, it behooves all of us (CEOs, managers, and employees) to treat everyone (above and below us) with kindness, dignity, and respect.
Barry, D. (1999). Dave Barry Turns 50. New York, NY: Ballantine Publishing Group.
Jones, D. (2006). CEOs say how you treat a waiter can predict a lot about character. USA Today. Retrieved December 13, 2009, from http://www.usatoday.com/money/companies/management/2006-04-14-ceos-waiter-rule_x.htm