At school, reading Sir Max Beerbohm’s essay, titled, “As Other See Us”, I was fascinated with the premise of the thought – how do I look like to “others”. Growing up, there was realisation that the focus of wanting to be seen as good by others, was at the cost of losing the ability to see, my own self, it was beginning to wither away. Taking custody, a deliberate and directed attempt to indulge in self-introspection became part and parcel of everyday life. Just as “others” should know us, there is an imperative need to get ourselves to know ourselves.
There are two different perspectives; it is about behaviour we exhibit with “others” and the behaviour we have towards self. The two, invariably are at odds, expectations being far and few. The duality of standards applied in each case, is in itself, a perfect indication of how, each of us conveniently divorce, our behaviour towards others and towards ownself.
There are two types of people: those who walk into a room and say, ‘well here I am’, and those who walk into a room and say, ‘Ah! There you are”. This is representative of the two opposite poles of arrogance, ego and humility. Ego is a major impediment in developing friendship with ownself. It beguiles and convinces that self-absorption is a justifiable act. The desire to be attractive and wanted by others is so dominating, that many succumb to becoming centre-stage seekers. Summer, Alice R Longworth, this instinct very appropriately, she wrote, “My father wanted to be the baby at every christening, the bride at every wedding, and the corpse at every funeral”.
An attitude that grows and yields, without any fertiliser, is one, where there is a harvest of thinking that suggests, one may have many faults and inadequacies, but we/I am never wrong. Most of us kill and murder, to complete annihilation our inner person with outrageous kindness. Mostly, we are polite to ourselves.
The best step is always put first, for reasons that others are watching us; our expedient behaviour in most cases is appropriate to the occasion. In privacy, our behaviour undergoes a radical change – here, the individual is not exposed to scrutiny by the outside world.
Whilst meeting others, we tend to be conscious of how we are dressed; attention is paid to being prim and proper; however, in meeting ourself, scant attention is paid to grooming, in fact, the lousiest of clothes are worn. I know of colleagues, who wouldn’t shave on Sunday – what does that prove/ No, external person to meet, so remain shabby! Overtime, these practices make a person into a shabby personality.
We love to seek information on how others see us; rarely do we look at the mirror to dispassionately see, how we look to our ownselves. Is it possible not to look good to ownself and epect the world at large to look at us as being good? It is just not possible to develop your “value” with the outside world, while invariably you value yourself lowly.
The most deceptive conversation usually takes place between you and the inner person. Most go to great pains in stifling the inner voice. The expression of the inner person is either muzzled by disdainful ignorance towards it, or else it is paralysed through constant rejection and rebuke to the inner person’s view, suggestions, and advice.
William Shakespeare in ‘As you like it’ says, “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” The common ailment or at worst, a curse of all mankind is folly and ignorance.
Scandal shouldn’t be the debut to life. Good behaviour is prerequisite to self-assessment. Positivity of thought permits the negation of demonic whispers. There are some who even with fragrance in the air remind themselves to check if there is a casket nearby.
Mark Twain wrote, good breeding consist in concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person. Behaviour is one single mirror where only you can manage to look at your real image without distortion of either fact or fancy. Behaviour must not represent itself as a beauteous craft of hypocrisy. The veneer comes off, even before it dries, if the one who propounds a doctrine and leads an opposite life! Behaviour is the outcome of breeding, and its nobility ensures emergence with spontaneity of fine conduct in men.
Behaviour is about speaking what you want for company and the tool to stay clear of the company you don’t desire. Fine manners, that are inherent and not merely for exhibitionism, need no crutches of reciprocal good manners. Be good to others, because you are good and not because you expect good in return. Conduct is typically not by principles in isolation but most by the breeding and training.
On the corporate floor, as much as in any other walk of life, expression of nobility is by good behaviour, fine manners and etiquettes. Behaviour maketh or breakth a man; and many a time it maketh a fortune and sometimes it makes you lose everything you have.
A close ally of good behaviour is the trait of humility, it is sine-quanon for keeping the feet on the ground. Arrogance leads to abandonment of all virtues; in fact it leads to loathsome behavioural characteristics. Sometimes, it is best to let the inner person transform to a travel agent, who will most willingly take you on, tours of guilt trip. It is true, that sometimes even failure cannot unspoil us.
Being recognised for good behaviour after having amassed wealth through illegal and corruptible means, gives no credence to its goodness ever. A GLITTERING Taj building on the filth of corruption, would present in its glow, only filth. Ultimately in life, whether in government or private sector, the adage prevails, ‘behind great Fortune, is a great Crime’. Oscar Wilfe in, ‘The importance of being earnest’, says it candidly, “I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being good all the time. That would be hypocrisy”. For fine manners and good behaviour, there is no midstream or middle road for adoption; it is either you have it or you don’t.
The writer is a senior banker and freelance columnist