The people we interact with tend to have varying limits of how much discomfort they can withstand. They may have more patience in certain domains, and less in others. They may expect people to apologize for things you wouldn’t think twice about, and may get upset over what you thought to be mundane behavior. The question of where other people draw the line is an interesting one to think about. There are people who are disgusted by the way you walk, the sound of your laugh, and any idea you present. Are they right in where they draw the line? How can one anticipate the social limits someone else operates within?
There are various factors in the development of quirks in other people – the desire to be special is one of them. These quirks can sometimes come out years into knowing somebody, or may come out the day you meet them. You can find yourself committing an innocent, and perfectly normal act, only to notice an extraordinary reaction by those who watch. This article hopes to caution you about how normal you think your behavior and patterns may be. It hopes to prime you for unexpected reactions from people who watch you. Knowing where the people you surround yourself with draw the line in social domains will help you navigate smoothly through them.
What Do They Apologize For?
We audit our own behavior throughout the day. For instance, if you present a semi-hurtful joke, you’ll likely realize its capacity to cause pain and apologize. The act of apologizing for your own behavior dictates that you’d expect someone else to apologize if they did the same to you. We only apologize for things we ourselves would expect apologies for. The people you’re trying to gauge aren’t any different. In an effort to find out where they draw the line in any aspect, take note of the things they apologize for. Do they say, “sorry” when they accidentally bump into you? Do they apologize for interrupting you? How about if they catch themselves being a little too loud?
Being around an individual for some time will shine some light onto what type of actions they perceive to require an apology. If the answer was yes to the three questions posed above, then you’d know what type of reaction to expect from that individual if you bumped into them or interrupted them. The things people apologize for are clues into what they hold to be important. Surveying apologetic behavior should give you a good look into how you should act around them.
For example, imagine an instance in which you’re sending and receiving regular messages to and from a friend. After missing for about two hours, your friend responds back to your last message – first with an apology for responding late, then with the message itself. To you, two hours is a regular time interval between sending and receiving a text message. Their apology should give you a signal into what would happen if you took two hours to respond to a message of theirs.
People get upset at things we consider to be normal. You may go through life thinking that you’re doing nothing wrong, while angering many on your way. It is difficult to be tuned into how the ones around you perceive you, but you can take some steps which prevent damage. This article does not recommend catering to every unique need of the individuals you interact with, but only to learn to anticipate their reactions. The general idea is to tap into others’ self-audit processes. Notice what they catch themselves doing wrong and apologizing for day-to-day to get an example of how your actions may be perceived by them.