Paul Butler: Oh man!

Paul Butler

I often say: “I’m no psychologist — I’m a recovering accountant” but there are some aspects of human behavior I simply don’t understand.  I seem to find myself a lot more nowadays, saying: “Man, oh man!”

I don’t understand graffiti. Let me correct that — I do kind of see the artistry in street graffiti and even more so when its sprayed on an approved area.  I don’t understand why someone would walk down a street randomly spraying squiggly lines on walls, which is what I saw in my hometown by a spaced-out teenager this past Saturday. Oh man!

I don’t understand why people smoke. Let me correct that — I do kind of see why people smoked in the 1950s, inspired by the likes of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean who also smoked and were super cool.  But in 2019, when we have all the knowledge we have about how smoking kills — why someone would choose to have such a horrible habit, that’s also bad for others, is beyond my logic. Oh man!

I don’t understand why some people don’t pick up their dog poop. Let me add to this one — especially when they’re right next to a trash can.  Oh man!

I guess at the core of the above three aspects of human dilemma is not only a lack of self-respect but also zero self-awareness of how my choices impact others around me — be it graffiti, smoking or not picking up doggy-do’s.

Transitioning into the workplace, one of the aspects of human behavior that leaves me doing the proverbial head-slap, is people who work in human resources who don’t seem to actually like humans.

Have you noticed there are two types of people who work in human resources?  There are those who love people and will do anything to help others thrive in the workplace and there are those who’d be better off working remotely — very, very remotely and with as little interaction with other human beings as possible. Oh man!

I don’t understand why people play solitaire or online shop at work.  I have noticed how most people will tell me how “crazy busy” they are at work but in most of the workplaces I’ve wandered through, there are a fair proportion of people playing mindless computer games or surfing the web with no destination in sight — all while the boss isn’t looking. Oh man!

One of the questions I’ve asked audiences as a keynote speaker at various locations around the world is: “Who here by a show of hands loves being the subject of an annual performance review?”  I have only had one person raise their hand to that question and they were French.

I don’t understand why most managers will avoid addressing an ineffective or inefficient performance from their employee in the present tense, but instead will make a note on the personnel file, ready for the annual performance review in the future tense.

I’m no Cesar Millan, but what I know about training a dog is you deal with unacceptable behavior immediately.  If our little doggy Elsie peed on the carpet today, we deal with it today — we don’t make a note on the file and raise it with her in 12 months time in a closed conference room. Oh man! 

I guess therein lies the problem — we are human, and so we do stupid things to each other, and ourselves in both our personal and our professional lives.

I’m also no theologian, but there’s a principle at work and play here — called the Golden Rule.  See, if I sincerely desire to treat you in a way I would like to be treated myself, I probably wouldn’t spray graffiti; smoke or leave dog poop near you. 

If I held myself to this higher standard — I most likely would indeed want to serve humans — especially if I work in human resources. I’d not want to steal time from my employer by surfing online while on their dime. I’d probably want to respectfully and truthfully correct performance to help you in your work.

Perhaps it’s just because I am getting older, and I’ve seen and I know I’ve done some stupid stuff myself, but man, oh man, let’s apply the timeless, universal principle called the Golden Rule. It’s worth its weight in gold. Oh man!

Paul Butler is a Santa Clarita resident and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia ( The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Signal newspaper. For questions or comments, email Butler at [email protected].

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