A Simple Test to Gauge Your Character

Filed in Living by on September 11, 2014 1 Comment

treating servers with respectThere is an easy way to gauge an important aspect of your character, specifically, your compassion, empathy, and humanity toward others. If you don’t fare well, don’t fret, I will end my discussion with a tip on how you can improve.

The simplest way to gauge this facet of your character is by assessing, as objectively as you can, how you treat service workers you come into contact with in your daily life. These are the people who perform some of the most basic, yet important, tasks in society. Their jobs tend to be mundane and not particularly well paid. You, in turn, aren’t usually required to be nice to them, because they have no power over you, so it is just a choice you make as to how you will interact with and behave toward them.

If you generally treat service workers by being aloof, dismissive, poorly compensating (e.g., lousy tips), and even abusive, then you are illustrating weak character. If you instead are friendly, kind, well-paying, and compassionate, then you are exhibiting good character traits.

Let’s first examine your character at work. How do you treat a cleaning person you come in contact with? Obviously, this person’s job is messy and not highly paid. But they have a job to do. Do you just breeze by him or her every day without any sign of acknowledgement on your way to your important meeting? Or do you at least nod to them and say “hi” or “good morning?” Have you ever ventured to learn their name? This is an opportunity to show some humanity.

If you have administrative assistants at work, how do you treat them? They can sometimes be fairly well paid depending on the level of the person they are assigned to, but their job can be both mundane and quite stressful. If you have an administrative assistant in your department, do you just load work on their desk without any regard for what their other demands are that particular day, or do you help them prioritize your task? Remember, they not only have your assignment, but also the work they have received from everyone else in the department, including the department’s boss. They also have to answer the phone promptly every time it rings, and be pleasant and responsive to whoever is calling, regardless of how busy they are at the moment. Do you empathize with them and try to help make their job a little easier?

Away from work, the most common service employee most of us encounter is a waiter or waitress. Again, they are generally overworked and underpaid. Worse yet, they often have to work nights, weekends, and holidays. When you are dining out on a Saturday night, or even more revealing, when you are out on a holiday like New Year’s Eve or Mother’s Day, how do you treat your wait person? Bear in mind, you are likely partying and whooping it up, and they are at work, serving you. If the kitchen is a little slow, do you berate them for causing you to wait a little too long to get your meal? And then do you leave a measly tip? If so, again, you are exhibiting weak character.

So let’s say you occasionally behave a bit badly with service workers, as many of us do—how do you become a better and more empathetic person?

They key to being compassionate and kind to service workers is to realize that they are every bit your equal and just as important to their organization as you are to yours. Let’s say you happen to have a fancy education or a lot of authority at work. So what? Do you think this makes you better than anyone else? It doesn’t. Also, every employee in an organization has an important job to do. A company is like an organism, in which every part is dependent on every other part. If a job wasn’t necessary, a business wouldn’t pay someone to do it. Everyone’s job is indispensable to the functioning of the whole.

And what of just basic humanity? Doesn’t every single person on this planet deserve to be treated with kindness and respect, regardless of their situation and station in life? I think so, and I can guarantee you God thinks so.

If you have had occasional lapses, you might try to more consistently treat the service workers in your life with the friendliness, kindness, and recognition they deserve. Not only will it make you a better person, it is simply the right thing to do.

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.

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Bill Quick says:

    Very well said Timmy!! Love it! If you give good you will get good, always!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *