Column: Sine Cera, Malaya Business Insight
Title: More on GMRC: Good Manners and
By Cata Salazar-de Jesus
It was a pleasant surprise to get a whole bunch of positive feedback about last week's topic, GMRC. Happily, I discovered that it's not a lost cause! Parents who emailed me said that they were going to share the essay with their children and friends. People who ran their own businesses said they were going to photocopy it and share it with their staff. Great! Let's keep the ball rolling. We might actually end up a nation delightfully crawling with people who are not only hospitable, but also uniquely endowed with GMRC. So let's pick up from where we left off...
16. Enough already with Crab Mentality! Enough of such a mean and small-minded national pastime. Even Pacquiao recently made his own appeal about this -- and he looked so sad and forlorn when he said it. Well, I don't blame him. For all the honor he has brought to our country, this was all it took for many of his countrymen to vilify him? A close fight that disappointed them?!! He won -- but some people just had to pull him down. Unbelievable. What shameless disloyalty. Why couldn't we have just cheered the man on? He sure looked like he needed it. He even looked disappointed with himself. Moreover, he's a Filipino, he's one of our own. I wonder if the Mexicans booed Marquez for losing? Goodness gracious, we had better learn to treat our winners right.
Crab mentality is our own native brand of cultural crassness. It's our National Shame. It's probably one of the biggest reasons why we haven't progressed as a nation and as a people. So enough already with Crab Mentality. Let's discipline our minds and hearts and MOUTHS to be happy for people when they succeed! In fact, GMRC dictates that we should encourage our winners, prod them on!
(As a sidebar to this, a friend told me something, and I truly appreciate his honesty. He said that when someone succeeds and he doesn't personally know him, it's easy for him to be happy for that person. But if it's a sibling, a relative, a friend, a classmate, or a colleague who does well, he finds it very hard to be happy for that person -- the "inggit" factor, he said, is terribly strong, and he ends up being a crab to make himself feel better. Admittedly, he's a very insecure person. I guess that sums it up quite well for most of us.)
17. When you make a mistake or you failed, apologize immediately, or own up to your failure. Do not lie. Do not water it down. Do not minimize the damage. Do not blame others, and do not make excuses. It makes your apology lame and insincere. It's very bad manners to apologize, and then quickly rationalize it away.
18. Being bossy is bad manners. Scolding someone in front of others is bad manners. Making fun of someone is bad manners. Gossiping or backbiting is terribly bad manners. So is being sarcastic, overly opinionated and monopolizing the conversation.
A good rule to follow is this: when you have to give instructions, say it politely but firmly. Write it down, if you think the person is a borderline idiot (which we all have been -- admit it).
When you're tempted to do a monologue because the person you're talking to is a complete bore -- politely say you have to go (you're not lying...you HAVE to go to stop yourself from being annoying).
When you have to scold, do it in private. Think of the other person's dignity...and yours, because you just might lose it while you're scolding him/her!
When you're tempted to say, "I can't believe God gave you a brain," or a lopsided euphemism like,"What were you thinking?!!" -- take a deep breath and shut up. Allow your steam to evaporate and pfffffft out of your ears, go to a sound-proofed room and scream your head off (Okay, I'm exaggerating), brush your teeth and gargle in case you throw up -- and then rehearse what you have to say in front of a mirror, in a calm and dignified manner. But don't take ten years going through the whole process.
See? There IS a proper way of getting mad and of scolding people.
19. A "Dear John" letter is a totally different creature from a "Dear Moron" letter. If you have to part ways with someone, do not put him down, blame, fault-find, or criticize the person you're writing the letter to. Be gracious but honest. But don't be all corny and mushy and cheesy. You might send the wrong signals -- he might get confused and think it's actually a "Hello John," Let's-start-all-over-again letter.
Resorting to flattery just to cut off a relationship is utterly underhanded and manipulative. So just cut clean. Avoid any emotional mess. No more texting and desperate midnight calls or one last date "just for closure." Please. You're both adults who are literate and are presumably sane. End your misery already!
And always, always remember to return whatever valuable, expensive stuff the person gave you -- out of delicadeza. If he/she insists you keep it but you cannot stand the sight of it, donate it (or the proceeds thereof) to your favorite sibling, best friend, a doctor you owe your life to, a reliable ministry or charity. Let other people benefit from your failed relationships.
20. When you're late, apologize for being late. Just keep it short and simple. No histrionics or flimsy reasons like, "Super traffic!" or some kind of brainless excuse that will annoy people even more. It's tantamount to saying "I forgot to breathe so my brain ran out of oxygen so I came late and hopefully I'm not brain-dead."
21. When you make someone wait for whatever reason, say THANK YOU to that person. If you have a valid reason for making him/her wait, you can say so, to make the person understand that it was something important that held you up -- not because he/she was not important to you.
22. Be punctual. Being on time shows the people you're meeting with that you respect them, and they are important to you. Or, at the very least, their time is important to you.
23. As much as possible, start your meetings on time. There are exceptions, of course -- if the decision-makers have to be there, you just have to wait. But if it's a class or seminar, start on time. Do not let the punctual ones suffer for coming on time! That's mortal sin. Instead, let the latecomers feel the consequences. If you don't, you'll be encouraging tardiness more and more.
24. At weddings or other social functions, try your best to start promptly, or at most, 30 minutes after the appointed time. If some Ninongs/Ninangs are late, get others to march for them. Don't keep your guests waiting!
25. When someone calls you and asks for a return call, make sure you do. If it's someone you're avoiding for some reason, ask your secretary to call him to say you're not available -- but would they like to leave a message?
If they're trying to sell you something, just say politely but firmly that you're not interested. Don't keep hedging and don't keep them hanging.
However, if you're stuck with a stalker, the best strategy is NOT to communicate with the stalker in any way. That's not bad manners -- it's deliberately keeping a safe distance. Any kind of communication, even a negative response, will just encourage the stalker to do more stalking. That's what the anti-crime experts say.
26. The mobile phone companies will love me for this: when someone texts you, it's GMRC to reply, even just to acknowledge that you got the message. One time, I was so annoyed that this person didn't reply to my text, especially since it was an important office matter. So when I saw him face-to-face, I asked him why he didn't reply. You know what he said? It floored me -- in a very bad way. He said he didn't want to make the phone companies rich by texting "K." You know what I told him? "Oh I see. Next time, just reply that you got my text, and I will pay you one peso every time you do that." (Hmmmm...not good manners at all on my part!) He blanched and probably thought of a gazillion ways of insulting me back. To his credit, he did not.
27. If you know that someone doesn't want to talk to you, and is deliberately avoiding you -- it's GMRC to leave that person alone and give him some space. Unless, of course, it's because he owes you money or work that's been paid for, or you want to retrieve something he borrowed, or it has to do with a business commitment he's not fulfilling, etc. In cases like those, you'll just have to find a trusted mediator who can bring the two of you together to thresh things out.
But it's horribly bad manners to insist on seeing a person just because you "want closure" (aren't you so tired of hearing that?!!) or you want to restore a broken relationship, etc. That is totally selfish. You just want your way -- even if the other person clearly doesn't want to have anything to do with you anymore! Face the facts -- you're no longer wanted, so just stay away.
Part of good manners is knowing when to make a proper entrance, and a proper exit.
So. It's time to exit for now!