There’s BIG behavior, like evolution. There’s medium behavior, like wars and famine. And then there’s a whole lot of teeny tiny behaviors. Thumbs up. Covering your mouth when sneezing. Winking at a friend. These are all teeny behaviors.
But these teeny behaviors can give us deep insights into who we are. For instance, one of the things I notice in the men’s locker room at the gym. There’s quite a few guys (maybe 20%?) who leave their locker door open when they leave.
The polite clean freak within me closes the lockers for them. I hear my father’s voice from eons ago saying things like “are we paying to heat the outdoors?” or “were you born in a barn?”
No, I don’t want to heat the outdoors, and no I wasn’t born in a barn. My grandfather was, but that’s another story. Instead, as a student of tiny behaviors, let’s think about what it means to leave the locker door open for someone else to close. What does it say about their character?
Perhaps they are forgetful. Perhaps they think it’s beneath them. Perhaps they don’t pay attention to things that aren’t their concern. Perhaps they feel that since someone else will do the work, let that other person do the work. Perhaps it’s a deliberate insult to the gym – their way of ‘giving’ back.
In a real sense, I don’t care about what may be going on inside their head. What I care about is what I can see, and measure. They didn’t close the door. To me that means they are probably the kind of guy who doesn’t put down the toilet seat after peeing, even if he’s married. He’s the kind of guy who leaves a mess at the coffee pot because he knows the next person will clean it up. And he’s probably the kind of guy who won’t finish the spreadsheet on product performance in Pennsylvania because he knows his coworker will finish it for him.
Here’s the fun part. Do I want to hire a guy who can’t close the door behind him? Do you want to friend a guy who can’t be bothered to clean up after himself? I certainly don’t.
Now, if there was only a way to get this question answered honestly on a job application.