A man came into my office today and asked to speak to the person in charge. As he walked towards my office he announced loud enough for everyone in the branch to hear, “We have a big problem!” I’ve always found a certain humor in people that act like that due to the fact that in my decade+ career in banking, I’ve found very few actual banking issues but in turn, most problems are caused by individual ineptitude. There are exceptions of course, but a tiny hundredth of one percent of bank fees charged in America are the result of bank error and the other 99.99 percent are client error. So when you announce you have a problem, what you are really saying is, “Hey world, I’m too stupid to figure out my banking and I screwed something up!”
I won’t go into the whole ordeal but a basic recap is that this guy recently acquired a PO Box for his mail but had neglected to inform the bank, causing a new credit card to be returned by the Post Office. We changed his address in our system and ordered him a replacement card. That all happened last week. Today, he received a statement for the card and came in declaring, “How dare you bill me for a card you never sent!” First off, we had sent it but it had been returned due to his negligence. Second, the statement he hadn’t bothered to read had a zero balance; we hadn’t billed him a dime. Third, he seemed to forget the previous week’s interaction and that we’d ordered the new card or that we’d changed his address. More problems spiraled down from there including not understanding that his Savings acct information was included on his Checking acct statement, that his wife also had an account, and that he’d requested we close a dormant acct two weeks ago. Basically, he was forgetful.
The issue that prompts my writing is not the age of this man or his mental well-being (neither of which were indicative of problems) but rather his pride at admitting he was wrong, or at the very least that he had just forgotten some things.
Why do men act this way? Why is it so hard for us to admit we’re wrong? And why can’t we see that our pride is ugly and a by-product of that ugliness is the breeding of dishonesty and distrust?
I work with a predominately aging population which carries with it a certain level of understanding of who they are, the decades in which they grew up, and where they are in the circle of life. As a result of that understanding, I also realize that different generations have different views on the roles of men and women. I certainly don’t agree with many of those views (like the fact that the client in question assumed I was the manager over my peer banker who is a woman), but I have to work within those views if I want to help my clients. Part of that integration involves dealing with the increased pride of older generations of men. But whether or not I get where they’re coming from, and I do get it, I don’t have to think it’s right or think it’s ever beneficial.
Pride is that inner reaction that causes a lump in your throat, a shortness of breath, a quickened heartbeat, a flush of blood to the brain, and more. There is good pride most often associated with the word, PROUD. And then there is the blockade of ugly pride which no one should ever be proud of. That ugly pride is birthed from an honest, natural need to defend one’s honor or reputation, but can quickly turn into not being able to admit weakness, covering up true feelings, and a general aire of dishonesty. To call it anything less than lying would be a lie in itself.
I feel like I could talk about this all day but also see this post is getting too long. I guess I just want to beg men to stop lying when they feel cornered. On many occasions, the lie you use to cover-up your weakness, mistake, or misstep is not veiled heavy enough and everyone around you knows the truth anyway. And FYI, the anger you heap on the mess doesn’t help anything either; that just makes you an ass. Trust me… your family, your friends, your co-workers, everyone in your life will like you better if you let go of your ugly pride. There’s nothing anti-masculine about saying you’re wrong, that you screwed up, that you don’t know, and yes, even that you just plain forgot. We all do it, we’re all human. Admit it and move on.
FWIW, this post is as much for me as it is for anyone else.