Today I had to attend a training for work. It was a training that is done once a year, every year. I was already annoyed about it because we were given last minute notice about the training (I get frustrated when I feel like my time is being disrespected – but that’s another post for another time). As I got up from my desk to walk to the training across base I thought to myself, “I’ll just look through the cute pictures on my phone of Quinn during it”. The training was being held in a large auditorium and there would be tons of people. Nobody will even notice, right?
As I took my seat in the auditorium, all set to pull out my phone I had another thought, “What if I was the one giving today’s training?” If I were the one giving today’s training would I feel disrespected if someone was looking at their phone the whole time? Yes. If I were the one giving today’s training would I find it appropriate for anyone to be on their phone or slouching over in their chair? No.
You see it doesn’t matter if I have attended the training one time before or a hundred times before. It’s not about the training, it’s about respect. My original thought was focused on me, and only me. I have attended this training before and so I don’t want to again. All along, I should have been thinking about others. The people who took the time to put the PowerPoint together, the gentlemen talking in front of hundreds of people, the triad of our base who took the time to make sure they were there and representing. How disrespectful of me to think that the amount of time they put into today’s training was not worth my time.
You know what though? I wasn’t totally wrong in thinking about myself. I should have been thinking, how do I want to represent myself? How do I want to represent my husband? How do I want to represent the organization that I work for? What would I want my daughter to do one day when she’s in the same position?
Yes, I may just be one person on my phone, and maybe no one would see me looking down at it. But if I had that thought, what if half or even a quarter of the attendees had the same thought? Have you ever stood in front of a group of people giving a presentation? It doesn’t matter if it’s 20 people or hundreds, you better damn well believe you can see it all. You see those looking at their phones, you see those sleeping, you see those who are making it overwhelmingly clear with their posture that the last place they want to be is right there. I imagine that can be so deflating for a presenter. I KNOW it can be.
I can’t forget to mention the narrow-mindedness of it all. Yes, I’ve had this training two times already before, but does that mean that I won’t learn something new? Even if it’s the smallest new detail that was a new bit of information for me then it was a success. Even if I didn’t learn anything new but I respectfully went, listened and carried myself in such a way that didn’t deflate the speaker and therefore someone else who hadn’t had the training before learned something new, it was a success. I previously mentioned how I hate when my time is feeling disrespected. Then how come I felt it was okay to disrespect someone else’s time?
Respect. One simple word that it all comes down to. One simple concept that is all too easily thrown aside for selfish reasons. I didn’t want to go. That was it, that was the only reason I had to give for being disrespectful to others. When did it become okay to be on our phones when others were talking? When did it become okay for us to not look at someone who is addressing us? When did it become okay for us to slouch in our chairs while someone is taking time out of their day to provide us with information?
Yet it happens all the time. I know that I’m not the only one to have the thought of being on my phone today. I can guarantee there are people who did sit through the training sleeping or on their phone. I saw plenty who were slouched over in their chairs so “burdened” with the task of being there. Today, so many people seem to have this notion that what they want is supposed to come first. Like we are entitled to always decide when and how we want to do something. When it doesn’t go our way, we interpret it as a personal attack. Well tough. This is life, and sometimes we’re all going to have to do things we don’t want to do. That should never negate our responsibility to be respectful to one another.
I’m grateful I caught myself and looked at the greater picture and implications if I were to make that choice. It’s easy to forget the power of one. Each of us has a choice every day to be a positive impact or negative one. I’m not perfect, and some days in my weak moments, I’m sure I’ll make the lesser choice. This is an easy one though. There is no reason for any of us to make the lesser choice in this type of situation. In a world today where other distractions are so easily accessible we need to remember that respect should come first, needs to come first. We all need to do better.