Avoiding Ugly

Avoiding Ugly

When I was a child my mother described as ‘Ugly’ any behavior she thought unseemly. In her efforts to civilize my brothers and me, she’d caution “Don’t be ugly,’ and she wasn’t referring to our appearance.

I think about that admonishment when I learn of interactions that at one time would have been considered astonishing and unusual: rude, hurtful, insulting, and damaging words hurled in anger. Disagreements that deserve a conversation, disappointments that deserve a sigh, or annoyances that should cause a ruffle, not a rip are turning into battles. As one manager said about a blow-up over a wrong ink cartridge, “I don’t think we’re talking about the printer.”

Whatever the reasons, ugliness has become common in too many places. Snarls and scowls are routine, and different opinions or ideas are ridiculed or dismissed – or worse. What does one do in the face of such distress? Unfortunately, quick reactions are often more of the same.

Most of us know what responses are suggested: leaving the situation, being calm, revisiting the issue at a later time, not feeding the fire. But it’s hard.

Just being aware that ugliness lurks close to the surface of our civil discourse can sometimes be enough to avoid it, but sometimes not.

Let us know if we can help. Ugliness can be avoided.

If it’s easier, call me directly at 202-298-7700.