Is This a Bad Habit of Yours?

We have unusual toilets. The lids close softly. A nudge is all it takes.

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It didn’t take long after moving into our new house to develop the nudge habit. You know where I’m going, though. You know what happens when we are guests and nudge someone else’s toilet? BAM!

It’s embarrassing. It’s embarrassing because we are aware that it is happening. The BAM! helps. So we apologize.

But what if we didn’t? What if we just went around slamming toilet lids? People would conclude that we were idiots. Crude. Careless. Thoughtless. Raised who knows how.

Truth be told, we all do things that rankle others. Unfortunately, there is rarely a BAM! So what happens? We are judged, we don’t learn, and the problem persists. All of which are unfortunate, at best.

Here are five things to remember when you are disappointed or irritated by someone else.

  1. Don’t be so quick to judge. Maybe they just grew up with nudge-able toilets.
  2. Judge behavior, not people. “His slamming is despicable” is fair game. “He is despicable” is not fair.
  3. Realize that people rarely irritate others intentionally and are usually unaware when they do. Either there is no BAM! or they don’t notice it (anymore).
  4. If you want them to learn, provide feedback. Awareness is the first step to learning. If the behavior is unimportant, get over it and move on.
  5. Focus your feedback on behavior, not on the character, motivation, or other personal qualities about which you actually know nothing. “When you drop the toilet seat, I jump. When I return to earth, I worry that I will have to buy a new toilet. You probably don’t even realize you are doing it.”

Which reminds me of a bad habit I see often. It has no BAM!. It’s a habit people never recognize in themselves until someone points it out. That habit is judging others – drawing conclusions about people based on their behavior.

Those with this habit don’t realize it. They are the first to label the person an idiot and the last to try to understand why he did what he did.

They’ve probably never thought about the difference between criticizing the person and criticizing the behavior. And they won’t change until they start to see that difference. Until they start to realize how little they know about what is inside others that can never be seen or understand.

Don’t slam the toilet near these guys or you risk being an idiot in their eyes forever! But if you:

  • share this article
  • talk about this distinction between the visible and invisible, between personal qualities and behavior, and
  • practice the five steps above,

we’ll all get a shot at reducing our bad habits.

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