• FMG

Treat People Like People, Not Objects

Have you ever busted your butt to get a project completed perfectly? Thought of every angle, went above and beyond the call of duty, created something bigger and better than your boss ever imagined? When you present this masterpiece, has your boss ever looked it over and said, "There should be a comma after "x"."?

Have you ever notice how severely incompetent everyone else is in your office? You are perfect, I mean perfect, and your colleagues are grade A "dum dums." Yeah, things do not always go perfectly for you, but not even Jesus was perfect. When you make a mistake, it is a mistake, but when your colleagues make a mistake . . . gosh, they are just inferior.

Well folks, what you see up above is pretty commonplace. I was working with one client who presented the following problem.

"I have a staff member who criticizes and magnifies every single mistake of her teammates. She complains if the garbage is not taken out on time. She laughs and tells the story over and again if someone spells a patient's name incorrectly. Yet, when she makes a mistake, well, 'Hey, it happens, but I am still the best person in here.' Even though she spells names incorrectly all the time. I wish she would just help out instead of constantly criticizing everyone for every little mistake."

It super easy to see other people's flaws. It just is. We live our lives everyday. We know what we are up against. We know how much hard work we put in just to get to work on time, and get the project out the door under the deadline. We know our partner is growing distant, or we have been working really hard to stick to the new exercise routine. We know ourselves and our journey. So often we have no idea about other people's journeys. We don't know about their sick relative, soaring romance, or successful night degree program. Worse, we often don't care to know these things.

We live with blinders on, we can only see how things affect us.

Ask yourself, have you ever had a moment when you are yelling at a person, or dressing down a person, and you did not even recognize that you were actually talking to a person? Think about the last time you were at the coffee shop, delayed at the airport, walking past the cleaning staff in the office, or addressing a subordinate. You saw this person as series of problems or inconveniences for you. You objectified the person because you were late, you were inconvenienced, you were bother.

We have these moments. But, these moments should be more and more fleeting as we mature.

Remember this the next time you are speaking to another person.

“Let us be kind to one another, for most of us are fighting a hard battle.” -  Ian MacLaren

How to be civil

(1) Breathe

When you are angry or stressed, take a minute, take a break before you dive into a conversation. Even if it just a five second deep breath. Slow yourself down. 


People, when someone mistypes a letter I am sure he or she was not trying to sabotage your life. It was probably an oversight. If it happens with great frequency, that person might not be cut out for the position, but why make the situation worse by ridiculing or humiliating the person, or his or her intelligence.

(3) We are all people

Remember that the person you are engaging with is a real person with real problems and challenges just like you. They are not worth more or less than you. In fact, each person wants to be treated the way you want to be treated, just as your kindergarten teacher informed you.

(4) Apologize

If you cross the line, and in your gut you know when you have crossed the line, apologize. If you get angry, if you speak out of anger as opposed to rational thought, apologize. No one is perfect but we need to step up when we treat people like objects.

(5) It is not just business

Just because you are wearing a suit and standing in front of a room full of people does not mean you can abandon common decency. Life is too short. Business is the place where it is most important to respect the human on the other side of the conversation. Nobody likes an ass, not even if they are making millions. We won't always make millions, one day someone, somewhere will need a favor, just like the Godfather promised. Do you want to do a favor for an ass? No. You might do it anyway because you know you should treat people well.  But, you won't like it one bit.

Businesses work better when people work together and respect one another.