Point & Click
Is it time for us as a society to take one big charm school course, metaphorically speaking, of course? I’m starting to think we all need a refresher course in how to treat each other. I’m not really talking about charm, exactly. After all, convicted serial rapist and murderer Ted Bundy was described as “charming.”It’s more about respect.It seems that we in the newspaper business get our share of dealing with – how do I say this delicately – accusing, angry folks. They read something in the newspaper that upsets them, or they’re mad that something didn’t get covered in the paper. So they come into our office ranting, or they call us up yelling, or they send off a nasty e-mail.Now, there’s nothing wrong with discourse. Lively debate is actually energizing and enlightening. But when people lose all sense of decorum and go on the attack inappropriately like rabid wolves – well, there are sure a lot more effective ways to get your point across. Kids on high school debate teams are better at this than we grown adults are. I believe it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said that we teach people how we want to be treated, which I take to mean two things: We show people, by our own politeness, how we wish to be treated in return. I think it also means that each of us possesses a personal state of mind that guides people how to treat us.But recently, I’ve had my share of angry people coming at me. You can’t believe, actually, what I’ve been called. (And it’s not late for dinner.) People can be so nasty, so hurtful, so downright mean. They’re mad about something with the paper, or something in their own lives, and suddenly, I’m the sole reason for it. It really blows me away. I’ve been thinking about this general state of impoliteness, and then I remembered the nasty way I spoke to the telemarketer on the phone a couple of months ago. OK, maybe this credit card company’s computer did call us eight times in one night, before I finally picked up the phone and told the real live human person on the other end to get lost, in so many words. I think the caller was probably from India. Yes, he was representing a company that I didn’t agree with, but he didn’t deserve my wrath. After I let this realization sink in, I started consciously treating people with the respect I would like to receive. I know that sounds simple, but I think we need to constantly remind ourselves of this. I let a woman driver in before me at a stoplight. I made a concerted effort to just be a little kinder to people. I smiled at people I passed on the street. And for the most part, they smiled back. Carrie Click is the editor and general manager of The Citizen Telegram in Rifle (citizentelegram.com). She would be happy to receive your kind, respectful e-mail or phone call, even if you agree to disagree with her. Carrie can be reached at 625-3245, ext. 101, email@example.com.
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