Love and Manners

Before you discount this topic as having nothing to do with accounting, please pause. The intention of this site is an improved understanding of accounting.

If you are working in an accounting office, your first few days are going to be at the mercy of the current staff, and their arrogance or consideration towards you will make a big difference. There is a steep learning curve involved, and the added stress of being subjected to a rude or derogatory attitude does not help. For example, in simply learning what system is being used to save files, there is the assumption that you should know the system, when logically that is impossible: every accounting office has its own unique filing system.

If you are a client, then you will be at the mercy of the accounting staff probably every time you encounter an accounting office, and most likely the learning curve will begin anew each year you meet with your accountant. The more you avoid such meetings, whether due to expense or just plain unpleasantness, the more you will forget and need to re-learn the next time you meet.

Love and manners are the sequel to accounting and arrogance. This is not to profess that they are the solution to arrogance, it is simply to say that love and manners are another black hole in the accounting world, that few people discuss, and that I would like to hear people’s perspective on. Do people like their accounting peers? Do people who work in accounting have good manners? What are people’s experiences? What reasons are hypothesized for those experiences?

Also, the pairing of love and manners does not profess that one is an evolution of the other, like love and marriage.

I think back to English literature I studied in college:

Love is the fart

Of every heart;

It pains a man when ’tis kept close,

And others doth offend when ’tis let loose.

– Sir John Suckling

Or I find thoughts like the following, in the book “The Door” by Magda  Szabó, “I had to break her habit of demonstrating her attachment to me by these undisciplined, insane means. I know now, what I didn’t then, that affection can’t always be expressed in calm, orderly, articulate ways; and that one cannot prescribe the form it should take for anyone else.”

So you see, love and manners do not necessarily follow one from the other. I know a lot about love and very little about manners (love is easy: you curl up on the couch with your cat or your family member and that is love. You lean back and laugh uproariously at the dinner table or run to the door when someone is arriving. When you lack people to love, you are painfully lonely. When you have people to love, you take them for granted.) Manners is a different story. You can love and enjoy someone and yet smother them or lash out at them – very bad manners. You can be misunderstood by someone you had the best of intentions for.

So what are manners? Manners, to me, are telling a patient who is being neglected during triage, that they can’t be helped at the moment.  There are several choices of what you can tell them: other patients are more important, your injury isn’t life-threatening, I am not authorized, this is not my assigned role, this is not the protocol, you are causing problems. And in the stress of triage, these are the things that we often blurt out in desperation. And don’t think that these things aren’t said in an accounting office – whether to other staff or to the clients. But the intention of triage is to provide the most life-saving to the greatest number of people – an act of love.

And in periods that are not emergencies, communication can also fall flat and offend. Humor is the most loving of all communications, in my opinion. Humor shows that you are trying to make someone happy, show someone your vulnerabilities, set someone at ease that there are no formalities that you expect. And yet in the attempt at humor, the recipient of humor is often offended.

I am going on the assumption that people in an accounting office are not spiteful people, that they do not intend to hurt other people’s feelings. I am assuming that people in an accounting office actually feel love for, and care for, their fellow human beings. I am assuming that if people in an accounting office learn proper manners they will be happier, since it is their intention is to make people feel important, loved, and set at ease.

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