Category Archives: Stereotypes

Different is not bad

The earth is made up of over seven billion distinct individuals.  Everyone has their own traits; some are positive, which can put them ahead of others, and some are negative, and these flaws ensure that no one is perfect.  No two individuals are the same, and this is how it has been since the dawn of time. So why does it seem difficult for some to accept those who are different?

Image result for accepting differences

The other day, I completed a questionnaire to obtain my DISC profile. I have done this before for different work requirements, and it always amazes me how these seemingly arbitrary questions somehow give such an accurate portrayal of my personality and work habits.   There are things that I do better than others, things that I need to work on, and flaws that I would love to change, but at the end of the day need to find a way to embrace as they are a result of the way my brain is wired.  For example, I have never been a neat and tidy person, however I very much like and appreciate and neat and tidy environment; it makes for a more productive day with less distractions, and a generally happier demeanor.  So where is the disconnect?  It seems simple enough – I like it tidy, so I should keep it tidy.  But for some reason, it has never been this way.  I do try, but ultimately there are other things that take my attention away and the goal of straightening up always gets put on the back burner.  So when someone with a completely different brain and personality notices this, they might scoff and boil it down to laziness.  But it really is just a different brain make-up.  I’m not going to get into the science of our brains, as interesting as it is, however I would like to offer a few suggestions for those who work with someone with traits different from your own.  It may seem impossible for the two of you to accomplish anything together, but it might not be.

  1. Take the DISC profile – have your office mates take the profile then share your results as a group.  It might be very eye-opening to realize that the person who you thought was snubbing you every morning at the coffee pot is really just extremely introverted and shy.
  2. Remember no one is perfect – you might be tempted to write someone off because of a trait that you view as a flaw; but maybe instead of a flaw, it’s just different from how you operate.  This doesn’t necessarily make it bad.  And even if it is something that could use some work, remember that you are not perfect either.  Try to be more understanding of others and you’ll probably find that your frustration levels will lessen.
  3. Look at the positive – for every bad trait, there is bound to be a good one.  Try and focus on that next time you start to get fed up with a coworker.  Maybe it seems as though they take far too long to accomplish a task; but possibly it takes a little longer because they have been busy lending a helping hand to others.  Or who knows, maybe they are just spending all of their time on elaborate pranks for the amusement of others.  Also a good thing.Jim's pranks on Dwight:
    Whatever differences you may have, if you look hard enough you should be able to find an admirable quality in everyone around you.  Find a way to embrace the differences in others, and remember that different is not bad!  We can learn from those who are different and work to improve ourselves in the process.
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Not another sales presentation…

My husband, two boys and I made the 3 hour 15 minute trip south to Branson for Labor Day weekend this year. We have visited the town on several occasions and keep returning as there are lots of things to do, it’s a relatively short drive from our home in Kansas City, and we really enjoy being at an exceptional resort that is well maintained and has plenty of activities available to entertain all members of the family.  We love that we own a timeshare with Wyndham and can experience a weekend getaway at a moment’s notice without worrying about a dirty room, poor service or an unsafe location.  However, while we are owners and not required to attend sales presentations, they offer many incentives for us to listen to a speech for an “hour” during our vacation, and despite almost every single experience being negative, we continue to get sucked in time and time again.

timeshare

 


This article about timeshare presentations is hilarious if you don’t mind a little bit of language.  My favorite sentence:
“Will, our sales associate, came over and met with us. He was a gangly, mid-20’s asshat from Dallas who looked like he was cut out from a business casual ad with dork scissors.”
www.ruthlessreviews.com

And for even more hilarity, check this one out:

“I said hell yes I’d like to take just one hour of my time to hear about an exciting way I could save money on future vacations. I mean, it sounded pretty awesome to me,” Jones said.

The promised one hour presentation turned into a two and a half hour adventure once Jones arrived at the all inclusive Global Sun Grand Resort. Jones expressed gratitude that she would be privileged with more time in the company of such esteemed individuals.
sarcasticnewslive.com

 


On our first Wyndham vacation together, we went to Las Vegas and had an amazing time.  The incentive to sit with a sales representative and listen to his schpeel was a meal at a nice restaurant, so we thought “Why not?”  It was actually a great experience, the man did not try to sell us anything, simply educated us about new locations we could visit, as promised when we made the appointment.  After that, our experiences have all gone downhill.  Again and again, we check into our room and are offered something seemingly awesome – a one hour meeting in exchange for dinner certificates, Visa gift cards, sometimes with a meal included at the meeting, sometimes all of the above.  Again and again we tell the person that no, we will not attend because the one hour meeting always ends up being two or more hours and we do not want to spend that much time of our vacation being sold to when we most certainly will not be buying anything.  Which prompts them to say “Oh no!  We promise it will only be ONE hour, and the purpose of this meeting is to teach you about something new and awesome that you don’t already know about!  No selling involved!”  Inevitably, we agree because their offer seems too good to pass up on.  And inevitably, we leave feeling angry and saying “NEVER AGAIN! NEVER!”  Labor Day was no different.  As current timeshare owners, our experiences are not as bad as what was portrayed on the famous episode of South Park, where the characters are held at gunpoint during their presentation.  However, sales people will be sales people, therefore we get to experience a little of the cliché pressure whenever we choose to attend.

south-park

We arrived at the meeting with the boys in tow (they wouldn’t allow just one spouse to attend this “educational” meeting about website reservations – that should have been our first red flag).  The young man who sat us down at his desk was very new to the game.  He was trying to play it cool, low pressure, just shooting the breeze until the required hour was up.  I mentioned the website changes we were supposed to learn about and he had no idea what I was talking about (red flag number 2, ignored). We did learn a lot about his life, and he about ours.  We shared laughs and told horror stories about our past sales meetings.  As we were closing in on an hour, the boys were beginning to get restless, I was getting extremely warm and my husband was trying to wrap things up.  Just as we thought we were about to be dismissed to collect our gifts, he mentioned something about a VIP package; upon seeing the blank looks on our faces he immediately realized he probably should have been doing his job the whole time.  He left the table to get a senior representative and that is where things went sour.  Our first guy bailed, and the new guy began the hard sell.  When my husband pointed out we had been there an hour and were ready to go, without purchasing anything new, the man completely ignored him.  When we pointed out our fussy children ready for naps, we were again ignored.  Finally my husband got stern and told the man that we were leaving.

As we left, we discussed how little the operations and sales teams worked together.  There is clearly no communication, and while they have different intermediate goals in mind, would it not suit them to work together on the ultimate goal, bringing people back to your place of business, and creating evangelists at the same time?  Ironically, one of the things the salesman was “educating” us on was the four things that Wyndham owners have requested to change – one of those was the sales meetings.  Yet there we were, in another sales meeting.

I did call to complain, and they did send us a fruit basket.  Very nice, and much appreciated (#harryanddavid #yesplease).  But when will enough be enough?  When we will we wise up and stop attending the meetings?  And when will Wyndham wise up and think about what their current customers want, as well as potential future customers?

 

UK Vacay Part 3: Road rage

One of the things that my husband was most nervous about when travelling to the United Kingdom this summer was having to drive on the other side of the road.

Picture this if you will: It’s noon on a balmy day just outside of Wembley Stadium in North London. The locals are taking advantage of the gorgeous weather, avid sports fans from around the city are heading to the park for their afternoon game of footy, and here we are in our beautiful Vauxhall Vivaro still trying to wrap our heads around driving on the other side of the road. We reach a set of traffic lights at a major intersection and as the lights turn green for us, my husband suddenly can’t get the van into gear. He and my father who was sitting in the passenger seat try everything but there is a serious problem with the transmission. As we sit stranded in the middle of a three lane road, the traffic begins to back up behind us.  I call the rental company to try and get help, but have trouble finding the correct number to call and am starting to get flustered.  When I finally reached her and was trying to give our location, I guess my accent precluded her from understanding.  She asked if I was near “Wimbley” or “Wembley.”  As an American, I think “What’s the difference??” but apparently there is one and this took some time for us to figure out together.  We had just passed a major wreck, so the drivers on the road already must have been agitated at the delays before they even reached us.  But to our amazement, no one honked.  Not one person.  They simply moved into the next lane and went on their way.  After a few minutes, a police car who had been working the wreck behind us made his way to our car in a vehicle that had been created for a middle school science fair and asks “well, well, well, what ‘ave we ‘ere?”

strange_and_funny_police_vehicles_07

This didn’t actually happen but I couldn’t resist :).  He quickly became our Knight in Shining Armour.  He very kindly worked with his partner to find tow equipment and proceeded to use their police car to tow our van to a side road where we would no longer be in danger.  And that was just the beginning of our day!  We waited by the car for two hours before help arrived, and we moved the car yet again.  Then we waited for an actual tow truck.  By the time he arrived, our day was gone, but somehow we were still in really good spirits due to the kindness of the other drivers, police officers and the wonderful employees of the Automobile Association.

Over the course of our 10-day journey there were numerous opportunities for fellow drivers to visually or verbally abuse my husband. There was the time that he put the car into reverse instead of first (twice in a row), the time he went into a pedestrianized area in the middle of Leicester city center, and the time he found himself in the bus lane. However, not once did anyone express their frustration.  Or maybe they did, and we just couldn’t hear it over my laughter.  Who knows?  The point is, there were so many occasions where we were expecting to be honked, yelled or cursed at, and it just didn’t happen.  Except for the one time where someone actually stopped their car in front of us and tried to get my husband to get out and fight.  That happened.  But that was less due to road rage and more due to a teenager who just got his license and was on a major power-trip.

Now fast forward to the very end of our trip.  We arrive at the Dublin airport at 5:30 in the morning (with a toddler and infant, I might add).  My husband makes all the right decisions (yes, I said it) and directs us to the shortest lines so we are just barely able to catch our flight to London.  We thought the worst was over, but with a short, one hour layover at Heathrow and the need to go through security a second time, we soon realized there was a good chance we would miss our flight back to the states.  My mom’s bag required additional searching, so the rest of us went and checked in to the flight while we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  We tried to rush security along, but with only one person working, and a quite unhelpful one at that, it was to no avail.  We finally decided that my dad and I would run to the plane with the boys while my husband waited with my mom at security.  And I do mean run.  A sign told us it was a 20-minute walk to our gate and our flight left exactly 20 minutes from when we reached that point.  When we reached the gate, the staff did not rush us or act irritated.  They actually acted as though nothing was wrong, gave us a bottle of water and toy bags for the boys and assured us that the plane would not leave without the other two people in our party.  Thank you Virgin Atlantic! (If you’re wondering, my mom had forgotten a tiny bottle of vodka when bagging up her liquids, and security refused to throw it away without first testing it)!  And again we thought the worst was over.

We arrived in Chicago after a grueling flight with two young children and to our dismay, we realized that our car seats were still in London.  And we had an 8-hour drive ahead of us.  We were informed that we could purchase two new ones and apply for a reimbursement, so we headed to the nearest Target and quickly purchased new seats.  Finally, on our way home!  Not.  I have installed my fair few car seats, but somehow the ones we chose required a Harvard education and employment by NASA.  It was hot.  We were in a hurry.  We had been awake for 16 hours with 8 more to go.  And despite our efforts to make it fun and pretend to be on The Amazing Race, we just could not do it.  Enter another amazing idea by my husband – head to the nearest fire station and have someone do it for us!  My mom happened to spot a police car and flagged them down to get directions and this is when our luck changed.  The police officer was a licensed car seat installer!  He pulled his car over and taught me how to install our new seats, while giving me peace of mind that they were done correctly.  He even chose to ignore the half-drunk bottle of wine on the floorboard.  I guess he figured we needed it.  Once again, we were saved by a Knight in Officer’s clothing.

The kindness shown to us by the London officers, the English drivers, the Virgin Atlantic employees (who sent me a very nice email with our reimbursement approval), and the Chicago PD restored any lack of faith we had in humanity.  And maybe, just maybe, it can be attributed to a new attitude of kindness adopted by myself and my family.

UK Vacay Part 1: Stereotypes

I have previously mentioned that my husband is from England, so because of that we recently had the pleasure of traveling to the UK to visit family. This is the fifth time I have been there, and each time I am reminded of the vast differences between English and American cultures, as well as the opinion of Americans by the British people. On my first visit, I got into a deep discussion with a perfect stranger about why the general English population do not absolutely adore Americans. It had much to do with entitlement and superiority. Add to that the stereotype that follows Americans around of being brash and loud during every possible occasion, and I suppose it does not leave much to like. By the end of the conversation, I think that I had convinced him that not all Americans act like frat boys on a daily basis and generally do refrain from walking up and down the streets chanting “MURICA, WOOOOOOOO!”

This photo is clearly a joke, but unfortunately it is how many people in other countries do believe American’s behave. I am proud of the country in which I live, but I did take his words to heart and for the rest of my visit made an extra effort to smile and be overly polite to everyone that I met, in the hopes that others would take notice and hopefully have a slight change of opinion about all Americans. On this most recent visit, I was concerned about how myself and my family would be perceived, largely because of the current political situation in our country. We mostly just received questions, mainly “Who are you voting for?”, but I still felt as though judgement could be cast because of a certain presidential candidate.
I bring all of this up because it’s important to remember that stereotypes can be dangerous. They can make us disregard people based simply upon outward appearances, accents or even profession. If my husband and I had decided that all car salesmen were slimy liars, then we never would have met Bruce at a local Chevrolet dealership, who was an angel and time and again went out of his way to get us a great deal on a car. If you’re at your place of business and see someone walk in the door who looks different than you, and you assume that they will not create much business, you could possibly miss out on a great opportunity. If my husband had believed that all Americans were rude and slovenly, then he may not have come here for coaching opportunities and we wouldn’t have two beautiful boys.
So next time you are prepared to assume the worst about someone based on outward appearances, remember that you could be missing out on something great and should take the time to look a little deeper.