Archive for the ‘Bad behavior’ Category

Service of A Bad Rap: My Paris Trip II

Thursday, June 15th, 2023

Iconic clock at the former Paris railroad station, now the Musée d’Orsay

Bad raps abound. Some enjoy repeating them and are often smug about it. And as they utter tired claims, they look as though they think that they are clever and have made a discovery.

President Gerald Ford, one of our most athletic heads of state, was known as a klutz because of a widely publicized photo of him tripping down the steps of a plane. I went to a college that in the day had a reputation for cheap looking female students with big, overly sprayed hair and too much makeup. Nobody like that crossed my path. Recently on a local NYC radio station a morning show host claimed that Canadians were boring. That was news to me.

And what is Paris’s bad rap? If I had $1.00 for every time I mentioned Paris to some folks who’d parrot “Parisians hate Americans,” or “They are so unfriendly and rude,” I would cover more than a month’s rent. It happened as recently as Sunday when someone learned I’d just returned. I’ve been to Paris many times for a few days and hadn’t noticed it then and in 10 days you’d think I’d have an even better feel for things.

Manet picture at the Manet-Degas exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay that’s coming to the Met in NYC

Have these self-righteous ignoramuses forgotten the attitude of some New Yorkers who can’t control their overstressed, overworked, exhausted, grumpy selves that translates to rude and impatient behavior? Their Paris claims could be describing Big Apple’s citizens, bus drivers or subway employees, restaurant staff etc. Paris is a big city too and has its share of equal opportunity angry grouches. I’ll also describe a few.

Here are just some examples from my magical 10-day visit that challenge the overwhelmingly negative allegations:

  • I hadn’t made a reservation to see the Manet-Degas exhibit** at the Musée d’Orsay and asked the guard how long she thought it would take to enter the exhibit given the very long line. She asked if I was alone.

“Oui,” I said. She ushered me to the front of the line and in I walked like a celebrity. The smiles of the young guard who witnessed my happy surprise and overheard my ebullient thanks equaled hers. **The exhibit is coming next to the Metropolitan Museum. Don’t miss it.

  • I asked a keeper of one of the many kiosks that sell magazines, postcards and tourist items if he carried notecards with envelopes.

He asked, “Do you need an envelope?”

Me: “Oui.” He went into his cubby and pulled out an envelope and wouldn’t take a centime for it.

  • Many of the metro workers are over-the-top helpful. One printed out maps and directions for me. Another patiently explained the system to a British couple ahead of me in line. I was turned around in a metro station and a third walked me to the right set of stairs.
Waiting for the metro. It was a joy to ride
  • I was more than a half an hour late for my 11:30 timed entrance to the Musée de l’Orangerie, apologizing all over the place and out of breath. The young woman checking the timed document and my museum pass smiled and told me not to worry. Did I mention the long line outside of those without timed tickets?
  • I was parched and not the tiniest bit hungry and in a part of town with only two restaurants near the metro station I needed to use. I had a hard deadline as I was leaving town that afternoon so there was no time to explore other options. I asked a waiter at one if I might just have something to drink and he apologized, said they were serving lunch and as I turned to go he ushered me to the back and said to the bartender “she just wants a drink.” And that’s all I had.
  • I found a restaurant near my hotel with good food and a joyful staff. On my last night one server greeted me and declared that the table I’d chosen again was “your table.” I felt at home as I did when one of the young men at the front desk of my hotel ran to the door as I headed for my taxi, leaned out, smiled and waved goodbye.
  • Without exception the hotel employees were upbeat and helpful.
  • I was told Uber was unreliable in Paris. I couldn’t find empty city taxis. The Uber I ordered to take me to the airport arrived on the dot. Others ordered while on the run found me just fine.

Not everyone was perfect.

  • I didn’t return to a brasserie I’d visited for breakfast for a few mornings after a waiter I’d not seen before was exceptionally rude.
  • In another instance, the owner of a restaurant near my hotel that was recommended by an acquaintance acted as though she could live without my trade, so she didn’t see me again. [She preferred to chat up couples and single men. Hers was the only restaurant, from the most humble on up, where I wasn’t asked mid meal if everything was OK.] I haven’t written up my experience at this place in Yelp but am sorely tempted.
  • And last, the old woman selling tickets to the Montmartre funicular was supremely nasty to an Australian tourist ahead of me. She clearly hated her job and spewed her anger all around. We know the type.

Three blatant negatives over 10 days isn’t enough to deprecate an entire city.

In a way I’m happy that Paris’s reputation as a place Americans should avoid lingers because there were already so many tourists [from all over] and it’s not even high tourist season. Let them go elsewhere.

What bad raps about institutions, countries or services irritate you because they are unfair and inaccurate?

In addition to Monet’s celebrated “Water Lillies,” the Musée de l’Orangerie has an incredible collection of magnificent pictures

Service of Thoughtless Actions and Words

Thursday, December 30th, 2021

Image by InspiredImages from Pixabay

I’ve opened my big mouth at times off-putting others, though I try so hard not to. A friend reprimanded me, after we moved to Manhattan from Brooklyn, because I told him that our apartment was on “the wrong side of Park Avenue.” He said I sounded arrogant. And I despise arrogance.

I witnessed a woman who didn’t think when she sailed out of the hair salon last week, wishing all and sundry a Merry Christmas following up in a voice that could have been heard across the street saying “Gotta run: I’m off to get my hair cut.” When I asked the salon owner if she thought the customer noticed people cutting hair all around her she shrugged and said “she gets her manicures here.”

The owner shared an incident that did broil her about a customer with severely dry hair. She showed her three products that would reverse the problem and explained how and when to use them. “Let me photograph them so I can buy them on Amazon,” said the customer who knew that the salon also sold the products. The owner added that Amazon didn’t have all the experience she’d shared with the woman and admitted that she didn’t say this to her.

A friend who owns a New England shop told me that a customer walked in recently, looked around and said, “Is this all there is?” Another day she found a 30-something photographing her greeting cards. “I want to text the images to my friends,” she said. The shop owner asked the woman to stop. Did the potential customer [who bought nothing] think she was in a museum?

mage by kaleido-dp from Pixabay  haircut

We’ve come a long way from the days my mother asked me to take supermarket groceries home before buying the bread my dad liked at the neighborhood deli. [Supermarket bread tasted like cotton.] She explained that it was rude to enter a business with purchases from another.

You be the judge if the point of Melinda Wenner Moyer’s New York Times article is pertinent to the subject. It was Thanksgiving, she wrote, and her seven year old ordered her grandfather, whom she rarely saw, to “stop taking pictures and put down your camera.” 

Wenner Moyers wrote: “Children who feel comfortable challenging their parents or grandparents about rules and expectations, who occasionally say sassy or rude things, are, in essence, kids who know they are loved and accepted for who they are.”

At the end of the article she added “Do I wish my daughter had been more polite in asking her grandpa to put down his camera? Absolutely. But I’m also proud that she’s brave enough to advocate for herself, and that she knows she has a voice within our family.”

It was fun to read the comments linking to this article “Why Your Kid’s Bad Behavior May Be a Good Thing: The safer children feel, the more they can show their true selves — warts and all — experts say. And that’s good for their development.” I didn’t read them all but starting at the top, many expressed concern about the kind of adults these children will turn out to be.

Do you think there’s a connection between unfiltered words and actions and upbringing or is it more of a personality thing? Have you witnessed thoughtless speech or behavior?  Do you agree that a child’s bad behavior is a positive thing and is good for their development?

Service of Bad Business Behavior

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

I might have been at a rowdy sports event the other evening instead of at the opening of an elegant Manhattan showroom. The lack of respect to the gracious hosts, when they wanted to address their guests, was cringe-inducing.

It started well. The space was expertly designed to enhance a handsome line of hard goods. To celebrate, wine and champagne flowed; wait staff passed hors d’oeuvres made on the spot by a master chef; charming floral bouquets punctuated the room and on entering you could feel the energy and enthusiasm of the crowd. The event was clearly a great success. In addition to the overflow attendance, some guests even looked at the products [instead of at each other]. 

The company is foreign-owned. After they were introduced by an American executive, two marketing people from headquarters welcomed guests and the chairman declared the showroom officially open. I was embarrassed by the way this NY audience behaved. After less than two minutes, the cacophony was such that most couldn’t hear. Guests could have been at a beach picnic talking loud enough to be heard over the roar of an angry ocean. In spite of the brave faces of the speakers, this experience must have been a nightmare. What a welcome to Manhattan.

I think guests owe it to a host, at a business function, to listen to the commercial. They might even learn something! There was a large hallway by the elevator with plenty of room for those who were bursting to talk and didn’t want to disturb the other guests. Not a soul took advantage of it.

I empathize with the hosts. I have produced many events like this for my clients so maybe I am too close to the subject and have unrealistic expectations.

Perhaps the terminally chatty never plan on having to address a similar horde? Maybe they spoke with abandon because they were shell-shocked to see other people as they’ve been hiding behind their texting devices for too long? I can’t offer a reasonable explanation for this behavior. Can you? Is it the exception or the rule?

Service of What Were They Hoping For: Legitimizing Tattletales?

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

Meg Halverson, a management consultant, wrote an article, “Cruel, Not Constructive, Criticism,” about 360 review feedback in the workplace for the Sunday New York Times Business Section. The reviews “which consist of anonymous feedback from subordinates, peers and supervisors,” she explained, usually happen when an employee is being considered for promotion or firing.

Wikipedia has other names for this type of review which it also calls 360-degree feedback, multi-rater feedback, multisource feedback or multi source assessment. The site attributes the German military in World War II as first to use the technique and next Esso Research and Engineering Company in the 1950s. The system, which has been used by companies all along, increased in popularity with the advent of online surveys that saved a lot of time and paper.

What Halverson described was no surprise: If you are given highlights of largely negative reviews after a mostly negative discussion about your performance, best type up your resume. On the other hand, watch out if you are in line for a promotion as “peers may be envious and wish to cause damage. Mangers may want to demonstrate their own superiority. And people who report to the person being reviewed may have an ax to grind.” She gave as an example that it could be payback time if the target of the review had refused the respondent’s request for vacation.

Halverson reported that much time is lost as the review recipient tries to spec out who wrote the negative comment. And this type of review also “damages team dynamic.”

Yet the impact isn’t uniformly negative, posited Halverson. In a collaborative corporate environment, “a 360 offers the opportunity to indicate support for a fellow employee’s approach to a difficult problem, or even an alternative accounting of what happened in a crisis. And in the case of an employee with a weak or misinformed manager, a review can sometimes provide protection.”

Nevertheless Halverson observed that in most cases bad behavior is the result. A review of high level executives “may be more of a commentary on executives’ popularity than on their effectiveness.” She concluded that this type of review is “seldom worth the investment” of time–three weeks to solicit and collate the reviews and for human resources staff to prep the person who delivers review results. In addition the anonymity and generic nature of the reviews don’t “make people better at their jobs,” she wrote.

Do you know people who have participated in or been the target of a 360 review? Does this method of assessing employee performance seem like a good idea to you?

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