People Are So Disappointing, Aren’t They?

Filed in Living by on November 24, 2016 0 Comments

people-disappointing-1A friend of mine made this comment to me a few years ago, and I not only thought it was odd, but also sad. It seems to me that if you are expecting disappointing behavior from people, certainly someone in the course of your day will exhibit it, and then that will be how you view people in general and form the basis for your outlook on life. If instead you focus more on the kind and generous behavior you experience from people, someone will also certainly offer that up, and that will be your vantage point on life.

I guess I have always been a “glass is half full” kind of guy, so I tend to particularly notice and remember the good people I come across.

Just the other day I was at a casual restaurant and I noticed that the bus person was an older man, probably in his fifties. Certainly someone in his situation could choose to not be very pleased about their lot in life and provide lackluster service, but not this particular gentleman. When I finished my meal, he came up to me and said, “Sir, are you all finished? I’d be happy to clear this away for you!” I replied, “Yes, I’m finished, and thank you.” And then he looked me right in the eye and said, “You have a great day, sir!”

What a breath of fresh air this fine man is.

I have also been pleasantly surprised by people at the higher end of the socioeconomic ladder. In this case, you might think they would most often choose to not make much of an effort to interact with those at lower rungs in their organization, simply because they don’t need to. I have met several who often did, and their acts of kindness were both impressive and uplifting.

When I was at an early stage in my career I once met with the Controller of the company I worked for. It was a large company with $5 billion in sales, so he was a very powerful executive. I expected him to just grab the data I had prepared for him and quickly move on to his next meeting. Instead, after we briefly discussed the information, he asked me where I lived and if I had a family. We ended up chatting for about 20 minutes! He was warm and personable. I was extremely impressed at this display of humanity from such an important and busy person.

When I rose up through the corporate ranks, to CFO, and then President, I was adamant about being personable and kind to all of the employees I met. One time I heard through another executive that someone told him they were surprised at what a “regular” guy I was. I remarked, “What else am I supposed to be?”

In sum, you can focus your attention on the least savory people you meet, but then your attitude toward life will reflect that choice. You can instead concentrate your attention on the kind and good people, and then you will go through life much more cheerful, optimistic and filled with joy.

And, what type of person are you? When people meet you, are they disappointed, or pleasantly surprised? That is likely the even more important question.

About the Author ()

TIM MCINTYRE retired in 2004 from his position as president of Applied Systems after facilitating a successful sale of the company. At only forty-six years old, he made the unusual decision to fully retire to pursue other interests and simply enjoy free time. As a hard-driving Type A personality, this turned out to be a significant challenge for the Notre Dame and University of Chicago-educated MBA, CPA, and Certified Cash Manager.

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