Common decency or remarkable?

Common decency, in my opinion, is not remarkable. It is within all of us. We all know how to love, be kind, respect, smile, help, support, listen. We learn all the other stuff – anger, hatred, cheating, lying, greed, narcissism, selfishness.

It’s easier (and usually safer) to become a product of your environment. That’s true regardless of economic or social status. We learn first through observation, even as our vocabulary increases and words are added to the learning experience. Finally through personal experiences – pleasure or “pain” (I lump embarrassment and discomfort in there). Going with the flow is simply easier than to fight against it.

Where did remarkable go?

In the land of the free or, as Guns ‘N Roses sang inĀ Welcome to the Jungle, “you can have anything you want, but you better not take it from me”, our self-preservation and striving for success has turned acts of common decency into remarkable traits. As emotional intelligence is increasingly embraced, companies are redefining good leaders as not just having the hard skills to succeed, but also having the soft skills.

Interestingly, this rise in admiration for soft skills comes as two generations raised on smartphones, social media and video games struggle to have face-to-face conversations. Fascinating that common decency and basic communication will have to be taught like hard skills.

But will it matter? Can implicit bias be overcome? Or is it like a permanent file in your inner hard drive that co-exists with better, updated programming?

Reprogramming to be the best version of ourselves takes commitment, dedication and persistence. In many ways, it goes against the flow. Which is why so few do it and probably why we view those who do as remarkable.

Start swimming

If you want to be remarkable, it’s really not that hard to get started.

  1. Set aside your need to be right, be heard, and matter to really listen to what others are saying to you. If no one is speaking, there’s a bigger problem.
  2. Be kind. It’s free. It’s easy. Smile. Compliment genuinely. Hold a door for someone. Offer your seat on the subway. Say “please” and “thank you.”
  3. Be respectful. When you have to criticize, do it compassionately. When you’re angry, take a break to calm down and reorganize your thoughts, seeking the truth and facts before speaking.

Three small steps to remarkable that cost nothing. You could even start now.