Thursday, May 16, 2013

Inconsiderate vs. Lack of Consideration

My wife and I had a conversation yesterday that was pretty interesting. It was sparked by the people dropping their kids off at my son's school. On the surface, it seems like these people are completely devoid of any kind of courtesy, forethought or consideration. Yes, I know that is a big statement to make in the context of such a small task as dropping off the kids for school in the morning. Without drawing you a map, it is hard to explain but I will try. The drop off area on the side of the school is in 2 lanes. When you leave, you go either right or left depending on which lane you are in. This layout has not changed in several years so its not a surprise to anyone. Inevitably, however, there is always someone who held up the line at 7:25 (school starts at 7:30) to make sure they got their kid in the left lane because it is 2 steps closer to the school entrance and then had to make a jump into the right lane to leave that way. It is aggravating to me because that person could have planned ahead a little and started in the right lane and made the kid walk an extra couple of steps. They seem to be oblivious to the headache it causes others and that it holds others up.

At first I thought it was stupid, thoughtless, and rude. Now I am not so sure. I think people, in general, are so focused on their own position, their own "world", that they are not inconsiderate but instead completely lack consideration. I know that sounds the same but it is, in fact, very different. Being inconsiderate means they do it on purpose. They know that what they are doing is selfish and just don't care. Lacking consideration means they never even gave it pause to think that what they are doing could cause others some frustration. They truly are oblivious to how their decision (or lack of decision) impacts others. I think being inconsiderate is worse because there is intention behind it. The only thing behind lack of consideration is ignorance. Ignorance can be helped, if you can get to them. On the flip side, there are so many people that completely lack any level of consideration that we have become an inconsiderate society. That is not good either. I remember in grade school having "guidance" and other "classes" where they discussed citizenship and being a good citizen. I don't know if that is part of any school curriculum anymore but it certainly should be. Try to teach children that other people exist, have places to be, have families, have feelings--just like you do.

I know people like this on a more personal level too. Much like the parents in the drop off lane, they don't seem to make a connection to the idea that  the words they use, the way they talk to other people, the attitude they present themselves with drives people away. They drift through life oblivious to the effect they have on other people. Group sizes dwindle and they say stuff like "oh those stupid people quit coming". It never even crosses their mind that perhaps they were a big contributor to that. No one likes to be around a bully. Even if the bully doesn't target them specifically, people don't want to be on the radar, so they stay away. The only way to protect a group when one of these toxic people is in it is to either convince them to look at themselves or to cut them from the group. Neither of which is easy!

What are your thoughts on this? Do you know people that lack consideration? How have you dealt with it in the past? What are some conversation starters to try to approach this topic with a toxic person?


Daniel said...

For the past few years, I've used the following phrase several times:

"A lack of intention is intentionally negligent."

I would apply this to being intentionally considerate of others. Having a lack of consideration is the same as intentionally being inconsiderate.

How do I deal with inconsiderate people? Well, I usually inform them (most of the time politely) that their inconsideration is disrespectful and unappreciated. It doesn't normally go well, though. People don't like to hear that they aren't perfect.

The times I don't directly address inconsiderate behavior usually are when there's not really a way to do so... usually while the offender and myself are in separate vehicles, moving... yeah, road rage.

Jonathan said...

I get what you are saying but I really don't think it is intentional. Some people are completely blind to the fact that they should even use consideration. They can't fix it if they don't know it is a problem. Pointing it out to them is seen as an affront to them and thus, as you said, will get you no where.

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