Why do people act like they are the only person on the planet?

Todd SchnickJust turned forty-five years old this past weekend, so I’ve spent a fair amount of years roaming the Earth, interacting with and observing humans.

And I’ve come to the conclusion that a majority of us are selfish, unthinking, unaware people that simply don’t take other people into account. They act as if their actions do not impact other people.

Here’s the thing: I know that a heavy majority of these people are good, honest, God-fearing, salt-of-the-earth folks. And don’t mean any harm.

But they just don’t think. They are oblivious to world around them. And they simply don’t pay attention to what’s happening all around them.

This problem impacts your sales prospects, your customers, your neighbors, the traffic around you on the highway, your close relationships, your online social networks, and well, this problem impacts virtually everything.

Look, I’m a pot calling most kettles black. I am not saying that I’m perfect, and I am certain I’ve impacted people in a negative way because I was unaware.

But I’ve also called myself out on this problem, and several years ago began focusing very consciously on trying to be more aware of my surroundings, and the people around me. I’ve learned (the hard way) that what I do and say impacts other people. I meditate, and perform this daily ritual, to work on this shortcoming of mine.

How does this manifest itself? Gosh, countless ways: It’s when someone confirms a meeting with a third party on your calendar, and doesn’t consult with you (this happened to me just this morning). It’s when you block an aisle at the grocery store, staring at your phone, oblivious to the three people blocked behind you. It’s when you don’t pick up your dog’s movement in a public place. It’s getting frustrated when a sales prospect doesn’t call you back on your proposal within four hours.

You should know that you just can’t schedule something on someone’s calendar without clearing it with them. Don’t you realize other people are impacted here?

Look, like everyone, I have to consult a shopping list when at the store, but look behind you for one second to see if anyone is behind you, and move to the side if necessary.

It isn’t convenient to pick up your dog’s poop, I get it, but think about the countless neighbors coming in behind you that are impacted by your thoughtlessness.

And don’t you realize your sales prospects are humans too? Dealing with countless problems of their own, interacting in their complex organization that is further complicating your sales opportunity. Your prospect isn’t sitting around twiddling her thumbs waiting to jump on your proposal the minute it lands on her desk.

With all four of these little examples, the problem is one thing:

Lack of awareness.

Too many of us act as if we are the only person on the planet. This is a selfish act. This lack of awareness complicates ALL of your relationships, personal and business.

Funny thing is, it’s a simple change to become more aware of the world around you, to become cognizant of the people you are dealing with, and to be aware of how your actions impact others.

Like me, acknowledging my shortcomings with this along with my daily battle to improve focus and attention, have made me a better person, and a better servant to my friends, family, and business associates.

Just open your eyes. But this time, look closer.


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Photo from unsplash.

  • notesfromkris

    I couldn’t agree more. I hope to instill that value – awareness –
    (among others like fidelity, honesty, humility, hard work…) in our
    daughter. And leading by example doesn’t always work if the others are oblivious. I believe I read a quote recently posted by an infamous strategist Quote #178: You
    can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people
    around you. Joshua Millburn (read with an inflection on ‘change’ in the
    first part and ‘people’ in the 2nd part)

  • Todd Schnick

    Well, what I am learning is that this is a constant battle. You don’t just become aware. You have to fight this and work at it every day. And yes, Joshua’s quote is very appropriate here…. Thanks for reading!

  • BeYourself_TRWF

    Todd, I couldn’t agree with you more. I think that, increasingly, we are seeing more and more of this in our society. And, by that, I mean less and less of people thinking about how their actions and their words affect others – before they do or say them. This observation is one of the primary reasons I started my ‘Be yourself…’ blog, actually…to inspire people to be more proactive in their personal lives (including thinking before acting and speaking). I will probably blog about this topic myself one day (though, rest assured, I won’t take any of your words!).

  • Todd Schnick

    Steal the message! The more of us that talk about this, the better. Becoming proactive in their personal lives doesn’t mean you stop being aware of others. In fact, quite the opposite: Being present and aware of you and your surroundings opens your eyes more to the people and situations around you. Thanks for helping push this idea!