I’m in the middle of a lazy, overcast Sunday morning putting the finishing touches on breakfast. It’s the one day of the week I have our paper (The Philadelphia Inquirer) delivered, providing the opportunity to “lose myself” for a couple of hours reading through its entirety. The Currents section, offering editorials and commentary, and the Local News section contain articles that are unwittingly related to one another and spark the idea behind this post.
One article, written by Bob Martin, a former Inquirer writer and editor, is entitled “We could go a long way toward being brotherly,” with the subtitle “Our orneriness drags us down”. It details Mr. Martin’s description of an older work acquaintance nicknamed “Slim” who has since passed on; a gentleman known for his blue-collar survival skills and fierce “addytood” who had his way of doing the job and damn anyone who sought to introduce changes mentality. A colleague of Mr. Martin’s noted at Slim’s viewing that he looked more at peace than anytime he was alive. It made Mr. Martin wonder “if this hard edge that characterizes so much of our region serves any useful purpose or does it simply drag us down?” The second article, by Jennifer Lin, an Inquirer staff writer, is entitled “Flap over Specter’s ‘act like a lady’ comment spreads”. Senator Arlen Specter (D., Pa.) recently participated in a radio talk show with Rep. Michele Bachmann (R., Minn.) and the discussion had turned to the health-care bill. Specter noted that Rep. Bachmann had said she voted for prosperity, and countered that prosperity wasn’t a bill. Bachmann, briefly talking over him, stated “Well, why don’t we make it a bill?” Specter immediately responded in a cantankerous manner, retorting “don’t interrupt me. I didn’t interrupt you. Act like a lady.”
A couple of additional barbs flew by, but you get the idea. Rep. Bachmann was taken aback by the Senator’s arrogance and felt like he was essentially telling her to “just sit back and keep quiet”. National media outlets have since picked-up the story, calling Specter’s remarks “patronizing, demeaning and disrespectful”. All of this begs the question of why civility isn’t exercised more often than hot-tempered, intractactable behavior in our normal discourse with one another? I used to encounter this stark difference in my former job. I always enjoyed the easy-going, extremely polite cadence when speaking with clients located in the Southern U.S. versus what I encountered with some clients in the Northeastern part of the country. Mr. Martin’s article referenced similar instances of this type of pleasant demeanor experienced while on a recent trip in Florida.
I’m not being naive…none of us have the capacity to always be “Mr. Happy”. I’m merely suggesting, particularly as we 50 plus males age, it’s not a given that we naturally fall into becoming irascible old men with a “my way or the highway” mentality. Senator Specter could have courteously asked Rep. Bachmann to please allow him to finish before rebutting his comments. Thoughtfulness generally trumps sarcasm. This applies to many types of instances we confront in a typical day. I’m still in a learning stage, having recently been chastised by a couple of friends for my penchant of quickly saying “hello” when they phone and almost immediately turning the call over to my wife. Guys, Mr. Martin is right…most times, exhibiting a hard edge can, and should, be replaced with genial behavior and respectfulness.
Neal Dranoff, Boomer-Living director, is currently a Member of Saljer LLC, the owner of The 50 Plus Male blog website ( http://50plusmale.com ). Neal brings 31 years of corporate experience to The Boomer-Living.com team, having recently transitioned from the marketing research field . He was employed for 23 years at Intersearch Corporation (which was eventually merged into Taylor Nelson Sofres plc, one of the world’s five largest marketing research conglomerates) and most recently at RSVP Research Services where he served as Vice President of Client Services and Operations Director.
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