I am not a big TV person, but there are a few shows I love like The Good Wife. Last night, while waiting for The Good Wife to come on, I caught the last twenty minutes of The Amazing Race which is great for a person that does not like to travel since I get to see a lot of other countries. This week the race was in Abu Dhabi which was amazing with the huge crazy glitzy buildings and the yachts and other ostentatious displays of massive wealth. But, what I was noticing was how the members of each team behaved with each other.
There was one nice looking couple who behaved worse than bad siblings. Most of their interactions were demeaning to each other and when under pressure, they were out and out brutal and loud about it.
In one of the voice overs, the man in this couple who was on the receiving end of much of the abuse, recognized that their style was to “let their feelings out”, but he reported it was okay since, in the end, they didn’t take it personally. The other teams, however, were very disturbed by their behavior and embarrassed at the image it was giving to the host country about Americans.
There was another couple who were doing a particularly difficult task making a fishing net out of wire out in the hot sun, which by the way was really hot. They split up the task, one taking the top and the other taking the bottom. When it was time to put it together, the woman had done the knots wrong and they had to do her part over. What I noticed in that case is you could tell that they were tense under the circumstances, but she took total responsibility for slowing them down and he was generous with her by not criticizing, and jumping in to help get it done.
I wonder what it is like to have cameras on you for an extended period of time. I imagine that although one may try to “look good”, it would be a difficult act to keep up over that time under those types of intense circumstances. And then there are some people, like the first couple on that show, who did not even know how bad their behavior really was. I think some couples are like the frog in the pot of water that over time things heat up but because it happened so gradually you don’t even realize how bad it is.
It got me thinking about the power of being more intentional in our interactions with the people in our lives. It is nothing to be charming when we are in a good mood or if it is a stranger, but it is all too easy to justify or completely excuse our behavior with our closest relationships. What would it look like if we added on “nice” to those interactions? And if you are like the fighting couple in Amazing Race and don’t even realize that there is anything wrong with how you are treating people…well there is always therapy:-)