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no excuse for bad manners

A friend of mine who was a therapist in a half-way house described an incident where this big burly nut-bar barged into a group therapy session hollering and waving his arms around. He was like a beefy Hell’s Angels guy, and he was having one of his meanie episodes that would have scared the bejeezus out of even most tough cookies.

“Use your manners, would ya?” said the the group leader. “Turn around and come back in quietly.”

And in mid-rage, huffing and puffing, buddy just stopped. Calmly. “Oh. Okay then.” And he left the room, re-opened the door, walked in and sat down in the nearest empty seat. Quietly.

Standards work wonders.

When we routinely justify people’s poor behavior, we block the chances for change to occur. Excuses repress clarity.

I worked with someone for too long who was bi-polar manic depressive and we always chalked up their behavior to their illness. We let them off the hook for all sorts of crappy behavior. But nasty is nasty, and mean is mean, and my standards are higher than that.

So next time your mother is a bit… well, you know how she gets. Or your typically grouchy neighbor is a grouch. Or your always-under-a-lot-of-stress boss loses her cool because she’s so understandably stressed… Call it at face value, all afflictions, dispositions and psych 101 labels aside.

Common sense is a mighty powerful thing.