Social Consciousness

Social consciousness is “the knowledge that the wellbeing of each member of the society you live in has an impact on the wellbeing of all members of the society. It’s the realization that living in a community which cares about (and for) other people is worth sacrificing for.”

This topic arose when my brother and I were talking recently about something that I do. If you read “The Early Bird Gets the Worm”, you probably remember that I told you that I am not a patient person. I do try to be, and I do want to be. But some things just tend to frazzle me pretty easily. However, I know when I’m approaching the end of my proverbial rope, and so I tend to let the person I’m interacting with know that’s where I am and that, should I let go and lose my last tiny speck of patience, it’s not personal. In other words, I pre-apologize beforehand if I think there is a chance my “nasty” will come out.

I blame this on my 20+ years in the hotel industry. For example, a family of five is traveling for vacation. The kids are tired and whiny. They got stuck in traffic because of a roadside accident that delayed them by an hour. Their GPS took them the long way around instead of a direct route. Now everyone is exhausted and frustrated. So they enter the hotel to check-in, whiny kids in tow, and vent all of this to the agent serving them to get them checked in. And no matter how intellectually that agent understands that it’s not personal and not about them or the hotel, they tend to feel beat up and at fault somehow. Now, imagine that same person walking up to the desk and saying, “Look, it’s been a rough trip to get here and if I come off a little terse and angry, it has nothing to do with you.” Suddenly, instead of the agent building up an invisible wall against the torrent of negative emotion being tossed at them, sympathy and compassion come to the forefront and the agent is able to express that genuinely. That calms the traveler down because someone is listening to them, and it keeps the agent from building a wall which doesn’t help either of them. I’d call that a “win-win” situation, wouldn’t you?

So, is my pre-apology a part of social consciousness, or should it be credited to learned behavior in order to make sure I avoid doing to others what has been done to me – repeatedly – over the course of my career? And, in the end, does it matter?

I like thinking of myself as having social consciousness. I hope I continue to have it and use it. I’d much rather pre-empt needing to apologize than blow up at someone. If that means I’m taking unnecessary and possibly unneeded steps, so be it.

So, where do you stand on the social consciousness scale?