While reading the news recently I came across an article by entertainment editor Melissa Hoyer titled ‘Why are we full of bitterness and schoolyard spite?’ In the preamble to the piece Melissa is described as being ‘bored beyond belief with schoolyard spite’. Essentially the short article is calling for a stop to the unnecessary and childish name-calling and personal attacks being freely thrown about in our media and cyberspace. Melissa puts it well …. “Just stop it. It’s tiresome. It’s juvenile. Babyish and just damn irritating.”
I share Melissa’s frustrations and have for some time now avoided listening to, watching or reading anything that includes commentary from people eager to share their critical and often toxic views of others. I’m tired of nastiness and I’m especially tired of hearing people make unkind remarks entirely unrelated to the topic at hand. For example I am at a complete loss as to why certain commentators believe our Prime Minister’s body shape has any relevance whatsoever to either her political views or ability to lead Australia. It’s an alarmingly poor example to our children that grown adults in our society regularly make nasty remarks of this nature about all sorts of people in the public eye.
It’s not just in the media that I observe an inability for people to play nicely. All too often I encounter those in the world of business who are vitriolic and explosive in their criticisms of their colleagues, boss and even customers. A tendency for people to lack compassion or sensitivity, leap to conclusions and judge one another harshly are among the most common causes of conflicts and relationship breakdowns I observe in workplaces.
The venom that some people allow to spit out of their mouths is poisonous and a cancer to the health of any culture and workplace environment. Spiteful, malicious, cruel, hateful and downright mean comments should never be tolerated. If we want to create environments that uplift the human spirit and lead to health, happiness and success for us all, as a starting point we need to stop being childish and take responsibility for the words we use.
We don’t all have to agree but the least we can do is behave with respect and decency. Just because someone has different perspectives or competing priorities with our own, doesn’t make it reasonable or necessary to attack their character and strive to harm their reputation. Perhaps its time to get back to giving people the playground rules; if I had the chance to write them up here is what I would include:
- Be kind – care about how you make other people feel
- Cut people some slack – none of us are perfect and chances are we will all make mistakes along the way
- Reserve judgment – often we don’t have the full story so until you do be careful about leaping to unfounded or baseless conclusions
- Watch your mouth – words stick and can hurt; what you say today can stay with someone forever so be responsible
- Bite your tongue – if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all
- It’s not all about you – don’t assume someone is an idiot or a threat just because they don’t agree with you
- Before you start throwing stones make sure there aren’t great big boulders other people can pick up and hurl at you
As Ellen DeGeneres says at the close of each of her shows “Be kind to one another.” To read the news article that inspired this blog click HERE