Monday, October 19, 2009

Behaviour - How Do You Do Yours?

I have a friend who operates by the treat others as they treat him principle. It's not really about revenge but it is about acting in the way that others do. For example, if someone was to refuse a favour to said friend, then the next time that same someone asked the friend for a similar favour, he'd almost definitely answer with a refusal.

My position on these matters is different, at least I think it is. I prefer to think, and to act, as if I have a more firm position and that my behaviour is less influenced by the way you'll behave towards me. I try to stick to my standards and benchmarks regardless of the way other people are.

For example, I've encountered an ongoing situation at my office that has been happening for some years. Most lunchtimes I'll nip across the road to our local Tesco as it's the only place around here. I noticed that a certain person would always ask me to get something for them, no big deal in itself, just a sandwich or something else low in price.

After some time it struck me that this woman would rarely offer the money for her lunches. She used to, but I assume my refusals to accept what I considered small change made her think that she didn't need to offer any more. But my sort of behaviour with friends is one in which I'm more than happy to buy you lunch today, as long as you buy it tomorrow, a give and take approach to things.

Then I realised that this person would hardly ever go to the supermarket herself. If she did, if she offered to buy something for me, she'd always take the money from me when I offered it, a clear imbalance, particularly as she'd usually try to sneak away quietly anyhow.

I observed this, I noted the behaviour and I carried on behaving the same way as I always had. I must admit that there's some sort of strange and smug sense of satisfaction in maintaining one's own standards, though I sincerely hope my ego isn't so big that that was my main motivation.

In my mind there's the thought that, if I reduce my standards to match someone else, then I become as bad as them and we all end up losing track of who started the behaviour and who was following who. There's the thought that I want to maintain my own standards, not influenced by what you do, whoever you are, unless you're a person I admire.

And maintaining one's standards, being above everything and letting it all go, is all well and good. If I could truly and honestly behave like that all the time then I wouldn't be thinking about things, I wouldn't be writing this post, I wouldn't be asking you what you think.

You see what actually happens with me is that I maintain my behaviour and my standards but I have a limit, a tipping point. I'll buy you a drink, a lunch, a car or whatever. The next day you might not reciprocate, you might let me do it again and that probably won't matter to me. The following day I'll buy you lunch again, you get the picture. The point is that I won't or don't react in the short term.

But after some sort of extended period of this, I decide that enough's enough. Then I get really pissed off. That's what happened with the work and Tesco girl. I let it go for quite some time but have now got to and gone past my tipping point. On the rare occasion she asks me to get her something I always take her money. I never offer to buy something for her though. These are ways of behaving that I feel fundamentally uncomfortable with, they're not me, but they have to be used. Enough's enough.

My friend, the one I mentioned in the very beginning, rarely encounters a situation like this. Had he been in my position, probably on day one of the not paying for the sandwich business, he'd have either demanded the money or refused to do it the next day. He would have changed his behaviour to match that of the other person, thereby solving one problem but perhaps creating others.

If I could get to a Zen like state in which the behaviour of others had no effect on me whatsover then all would be peaceful, though I have the feeling that this isn't realistic unless I was a monk or a hermit or something. And frankly I like sex, cars and rude jokes too much for that.

A mature and considered view on this is that whatever behaviour is good for you works. But what do you think on these sort of issues?

Should we stick or twist?

Happy Monday all.


Cricket Tragic said...

Luckily, I don't know too many ppl who are like the Tesco girl, though it's perhaps because I haven't started going to a 'physical' workplace as of yet..

However, I find myself guilty of being somewhat like your friend...give tit-for-tat. I can tolerate stuff to a certain extent but find that my tolerance level is not that much. My dad does scold me, saying that we should maintain our dignity, and I too think about that often, that we shouldn't be lowering our standards, but sometimes, you find that people will really take advantage of you if you try to be nice and accomodating...

It really depends on the ppl....some ppl are real angels, so I go out of my way to help them cos I know that they appreciate it. However, there are those pricks who think "ah heck, he seems to be an 'illichcha vaayan' (a colloquial tamil word, loosely translates to 'gullible person), so let's just milk everything we can out of him".

ViceUnVersa said...

RD, the situation you speak of is common to many SL’s. We are by nature generous/hospitable people.
In college in US, we had a SL house, anyone visiting on a Friday night would share with us whatever food we had and especially beer and alcohol. We honestly did not notice it until our very good American friends pointed out to us that there were quite a few people who would eat, drink and disappear omitting the being merry with us part.
It continues to happen to me even now…
I find it like you difficult, but if it’s obvious as in the case you mentioned, bugger them!
I believe that we should not change our good behaviours just because a few around us do not reciprocate. However one must be aware of and draw the line if it’s obvious that someone’s taking granted of them and avoid those people at all costs.

GDMRD and all the best for the week ahead.

Electra said...


Anonymous said...

Amazingly I'm quite like you in that I give till I'm finally sick and tired of the other person's callousness and then they've had it from me! Yet, I have found over the years that ur friend's attitude, a bit harsh though it is, seems to save one much trouble, and pulls up the other person too! That basically is what my rather tough/no nonsense hubby would do, and counsels me to do too! And honestly,I'm learning that it does help and saves me much pain at times!:) you shd try it too!


Anonymous said...

I was reading about zen masters earlier today, and realised I too have a long way to go before reaching that higher plane.

I behave like the friend you refer to. However there is a positive side to it. I believe in the world of finites. Finite time, finite energy finite resources, and money is one of them.

If you use up your time, energy or money on people who really dont deserve them, what happens to people who do.

Of course "deserving " is a judgement call, another post idea for you perhaps. But until I find a way to have infinite resources, then I see no option.

It's preservation. Of ones sanity, and time, and energy.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

A general reply to the comments so far:

It does seem that there's no right or wrong in this dilemna, that one way works for you and another works for me. I guess the problems arise when one starts to question if the chosen behaviour is working, which is my current situation. Or maybe it's better to have different modes of behaviour and adapt these to the 3rd party. I wonder if anyone does that, or do we all insist on maintaining our mode regardless of the other people involved.

It is an interesting discussion and I hope we get more input.

Cricket Tragic said...

In response to one of the anonymous comments, I think it's very difficult to implement ur practice, RD, in SL because ppl always take advantage! There's like a person in 100 who would be nice enough not to do so, but the rest are really rotten! :(

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

CT - I wonder if that's how people are in general, not just Lanka.

Cricket Tragic said...

Well, I came to SL before the age when I started looking @ the world from a more mature perspective, so I wouldn't be in a position to answer that but, perhaps, that's human nature! :)

Darwin said...

It wouldn't work in SL - too many parasites that would immediately take advantage of the situation. I should know, my dad was taken advantage of for his generosity by countless others. He would sometimes realise it and wonder why people were like that but he would never change his behaviour or be less nice to them. End result - he was always there for quite a few of those people at their time of need, but when he needed them, most of them had better things to do. So if you look at it in a mathematical way, he was operating at a loss and his 'decency' was not rewarded in the slightest.

As a result, I'm pretty much like your friend that you first mentioned. It's not about dropping my standards to adopt theirs, it's about making a level playing field. I'm not going to waste my time or money trying to teach them a lesson in basic decency, that's not my job. So if I buy them lunch and they don't buy me lunch the next time, I won't get into that situation ever again (I'd demand money for their lunch or I'd refuse point blank the next time). I might have fewer friends that way but the friends I do have would have been 'tried and tested'. I won't be living under the delusion that I have lots of friends who will be there for me when I need them, only to find myself deserted when I need someone to get me a sandwich.

Java Jones said...

Twist what?

Angel said...

Keep up the standards... :)

Pink Mist said...

Wow, to be honest I don't think I've ever come across this situation.

It's quite interesting that you let this go on for so long... did you think she would suddenly change at some point? Cos otherwise the annoyance was kinda inevitable.

I'd give her credit for offering to pay initially. Maybe some people prefer to pay for their halves upfront instead of a comparatively more complicated he pays, she pays, he pays system. what if you spend more on lunch than she does? does she only shout you once for the twice that you pay for her? Headache!