I’m incredibly picky. I wrestle with this fact daily, trust me.
Psychology tells me that this is most likely rooted in an deep dissatisfaction with myself, something that I project on other people and systems. Perhaps that is true, but there are other reasons.
I firmly believe that there is a certain way everything should be. Take turn signals, for example. Nothing bothers me more while driving than other people who neglect to use their turn signals. Not because they are breaking the law. It irritates me because they are creating a ton of friction for other drivers around them. How can the other cars make decisions about where they are going to go when there are people switching lanes and turning, seemingly at random, without warning?
I used to frequent a local restaurant before a weekly meeting. They failed to open their doors at 6AM nearly every time I went there, even though their hours are clearly printed on their door. They often don’t have the food to make certain items on their menu. The staff has been known to vanish into the back, presumably taking care of other duties, while customers have walked in, waited, and then left in frustration.
When people tell me about their problems — usually business-related but occasionally personal — I have a tendency to talk about processes and systems that can be improved or tweaked to make the frustration go away or at least grow less overwhelming. It’s not that I don’t care. Quite opposite, actually. I care so deeply that I want to offer something more than sympathy. I’m sorry for the troubles they’ve experience, yes. But there are decisions that can be made to repair and remedy those issues—now and in the future.
Am I being too picky? Am I over-critical? Perhaps.
I’d like to think I simply have higher standards for how things should be handled. There is simply too much friction out there, and while I am sure it does not bother most people the same way it does me, I have a feeling all of us have encountered these moments in our own lives. We know how things should work, and when people do it differently, it gums up the system.
Perhaps I don’t need to be such a hyper-critical snob. Perhaps I need to concern myself more with their pain rather than correcting their procedures. I honestly don’t see it that way, though. I see systems and procedures as ways to make things easier, less frustrating and simpler to accomplish. Sympathy might make someone feel better in the moment, but improving a system can make them feel better later, and more consistently.
I’m not sure what my point is. Maybe I think that we should show our care and concern by fixing problems, rather than partnering with people in group rants and toll-fests. Maybe I think we should seek improvement over sympathy. Maybe I believe we should work to remove our friction instead of regretting it.
We have the choice every day to go one way or the other. I just see one option as more productive than the other.