I think you can tell a lot about a person by how they treat people when they’re in a position of power.
In fact – Abraham Lincoln once said: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character; give him power.”
(See? I was right!)
Now – maybe you’re thinking; “That’s not me, no one’s given me any power lately.”
The truth is though, that we’re are all constantly put in positions of power, on a very regular basis. Every time you’re dealing with a waiter or waitress at a restaurant – you’re in a position of power.
Every time you’re standing at the counter while a shop assistant wearing a ‘trainee’ badge tries to work out what they’re doing – you’re in a position of power.
Every time anyone asks you for anything and you have the choice how to respond – you’re in a position of power.
Let’s take telemarketers as an example. When they call you (and I’m sure they do) – you are suddenly thrust into a position of power.
So – once you’re in that position, here’s the question: How do you treat them?
There are a myriad of ways to politely say ‘No’ and leave people with their dignity intact; there’s no need to be rude or condescending. When we choose to belittle someone or make their life difficult just because we can – that speaks volumes about who we are.
I don’t know too many people that grow up dreaming of one day calling people during dinner time to convince them to take a survey or sell them something they’ve never heard of and don’t want.
Regardless of how inconvenient the call is, or frustrating; that’s a real person on the end of the line, with a real family, a real life and real feelings – and who knows what they’re going through that’s led them to that particular line of work; it’s probably not ideal, whatever it is.
How we treat that person in that moment, who we don’t know and who doesn’t know us, with no one watching – is very revealing: if we’re prepared to look.