What does it mean to be compliant? Most people would say it means that you do what you’re told when you’re told to do it. That’s about right, but not quite. Emotionally mature people have the ability to do what they’re told, when they’re told to do it, with a good attitude.
In my years as an administrator and teacher, I observed many teachers and students doing what they were told, but what was missing was the good attitude. Although they complied with directives or instructions, they grumbled or cursed under their breath and definitely did not have a good attitude. Often they complained to co-teachers or fellow students while they were complying.
Mature people have the ability to cooperate even when they disagree. They don’t waste time complaining about what they have to do. They spend time getting the job done.
People with a poor attitude never give it their best when they do a job. They give a half hearted effort and are usually considered second rate students or employees. In contrast, compliant individuals give everything their best all the time and earn the confidence of their parents, teachers, and employers. Compliant people also know how to make correct appeals if something doesn’t sit quite right with them. They always look for clarifications or help when they have trouble getting something done.
As a young administrator, I was given the responsibility of issuing paychecks to the employees in my school. On one occasion, the checks arrived one day early. I was told by my superintendent not to issue the checks until the following day. A custodian, who already had been told that he wasn’t going to be rehired, asked me if he could have his paycheck early. I felt sorry for him especially because he was being let go. You have to understand the reason why he was being let go. This custodian was non-compliance personified. He argued no matter what he was told to do. When he did what he was told, he was miserable and he let you know it. My boss couldn’t stand him and rightly so because he was a terrible employee.
Well, I made the conscious decision to issue the check to him even though I knew I wasn’t doing what I had been told to do by my boss. I did this without asking permission. Of course I went against the directive that had been given to me. The next day was the last day of the school year as well as the last day this custodian was to work. He never came to work!
When I realized he hadn’t reported the custodian was not on the job, I became nervous. I had to report his absence to my boss. When I called my boss to tell of the custodian’s absence, my boss said, “This was the biggest reason why I didn’t want those paychecks issued. I held back all the pay-checks because I didn’t want him to get his. I knew if he got his paycheck he wouldn’t show up for work today. I’m so glad I told you not to issue those paychecks.”
As I was listening to my boss talk the beads of sweat were starting to form on my forehead. When he was finished talking, I then told him the bad news. Speaking slowly, I said, “I did issue him his paycheck.” My boss responded by asking me to come to his office in about ten minutes.
Driving to his office I was thinking…why didn’t I listen to my boss and do as you were told. To summarize the conversation, or more like it, the reaming out I got from my boss, he basically undressed me for not comply-ing with his directive. I felt about one inch tall while he was talking to me because I knew that if I had listened to him, I wouldn’t be sitting there being reprimand.
To make matters worse, I then had to go through the embarrassment of calling the custodian up and telling him he had to pay the school back the $85.00 he had basically “stolen” for a day’s work he didn’t do.
There was one other effect my decision had on me. In my next performance evaluation, my boss cited me for not following administrative directives. I wasn’t happy that there was something negative going into my personnel record but I also knew my boss was right. After this incident, I had to work doubly hard to win back my boss’s respect and trust.
A huge problem in society today is that everyone think they are entitled to a full explanation when they are told to do something. People in authority don’t always have the time or luxury to explain every directive they give. When today’s generation of parents give an explanation when they tell their child to do something, they are making a huge mistake. The next thing that happens is these children go to school and expect their teachers to give them an explanation or a reason for everything they tell their students to do.
If they don’t get their explanation which they think they are entitled to or if they disagree with the explanation, then the student develops a poor attitude and then often become non-compliant. Children and adults who are under the authority of their parents or bosses should realize that it is in their best interest to comply when they are told to do something.
Remember-the person in charge is there for a reason. They have their own valid reasons for telling us what to do and they don’t always have to tell us what those reasons are.
John Bradshaw, the adult child of alcoholic guru, spoke this very telling comment about the truth. “Telling the truth prevents future pain.” Great principle. So why doesn’t everyone tell the truth? The answer is very simple. It takes a tremendous amount of emotional maturity to speak the truth. Often the truth can lead to a confrontation which is something a person who is emotionally immature can’t deal with.
Larry, a dear friend of mine, who unfortunately has passed away, watched me with my daughter one day. Anytime she did or said something that was wrong, I would have a huge reaction and start to yell at her about her behavior. Larry just kept observing this.
Finally he said to me, “Jim, by reacting the way you do, all you’re doing is grooming your daughter to be a good liar.” I finally understood what he meant when my daughter started to bend the truth a little. I would ask her a question and she would poke around verbally to try to find out what I wanted to hear. She did this to prevent my reaction. Emotionally mature people can speak the truth without fear of a reaction from another person, and can handle the truth when it is spoken to them.
In this country, we are so accustomed to dishonesty. One of our most popular presidents was most definitely an emotionally immature liar. In 1998, we watched as President Bill Clinton constantly deny his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Why? Maybe he had a fear of an entire country and, of course, his wife Hilary’s reaction. When President Clinton continued to deny his affair, things only got worse for him as other women come flying out of the closet pronouncing that they also had affairs with the president. Clinton was also an expert in finding out what people wanted to hear and then he would tell them. People joked that he always agreed with the last person that he spoke with.
I had a friend whose son was getting ready to go off to his freshman year of college. We drove him up to his college and we intended to stay up there for three days. During the five hour car ride there, he kept insisting that we leave after we dropped him off. We told him that we were definitely staying over for at least one night. After we moved him in we took him to dinner and walked around campus with him. I watched his body language and I realized that even though he had lobbied for us to leave in the car for five hours, he was glad we stayed.
This story is not unique. Parents today have a terrible time when their children leave home. That’s because they know deep down that they haven’t done enough to prepare their children for independence. Children today are not given enough basic responsibilities as they grow and aren’t prepared for all that lies ahead in their lives. These children haven’t learned enough about survival out in the dog eat dog world. They are emotionally immature.Emotionally mature people have certain characteristics that make it easy to recognize them. What are these characteristics and what does an emotion-ally mature person look like?
Emotionally Mature People are Respectful
People who are emotionally mature is respectful. They don’t live and die by the saying…I’ll give respect when I get respect. They are respectful to everyone regardless of how they are treated. They have an appreciation for the rights and privileges of another person and therefore can accept differences of opinions gracefully.
Emotionally mature people have a built- in set of values that won’t allow them to use their words or actions to be disrespectful to anyone. Emotion-ally mature people enjoy another other people’s successes and are ready to offer praise to others for their accomplishments. Emotionally mature people know how to respond to authority and know how to work with their employers regardless of whether or not they like their boss.
When I was a young teacher, I was very immature emotionally. I had my Masters Degree in administration when I was 25 years old. I thought I had all the answers. I believed every boss I had was an idiot. I wanted to be an administrator so I could be the boss. I applied for one administrative job after another both in and out of the school district where I worked. But no one would hire me. I didn’t realize the reason I wasn’t being hired at the time. However, later I learned why I hadn’t been offered a job. It was because during the interview process, the interviewers who were all administrators themselves and they detected my “know it all” attitude. They were wise enough to know that a “know it all” attitude would not make a good administrator.Since I had tenure as a classroom teacher, I thought I could say and do whatever I wanted. I was rude and discourteous to my supervisor. I actually bullied him. I remember walking into his office one day and seeing him literally panic. To me, it looked like he was about to break down in tears. I felt proud of the power I had to intimidate this man.
My administrator asked me to take an extra class because I had so few kids in my other classes. I said, “I’m not doing it. If you think you can assign it to me, I’ll go to union and register a complaint against you.” He started begging me to do take the class. At this point, my assumption was he had been told by the principal to get this done and I refused.
I was a nightmare as an employee. I acted like I was the boss. My poor attitude reached incredible heights when I would go out for lunch. I found nothing wrong with having a few drinks and then going back to school to teach children in the afternoon. Luckily, I happened to read a biblical verse that hit me like a bolt of lightning. It said that those who are responsible in the little things will be given the bigger things.
I remember sitting quietly after I read these words. Finally, I understood how wrong my attitude had been. I said to myself, it’s time to grow up. It’s time to be a man. I put myself into my boss’s place and I knew I had put him through a living hell by just dealing with me on a daily basis. I went to my boss very respectfully and apologized for my attitude. I told him that I would do anything to help him. Never will I forget the look of pure relief on his face. Also, I became a contributor at faculty meetings, stopped listening and contributing to rumors and gossip in the faculty room. I did anything that I was asked to do with a nice attitude.
Continuing to apply for administrative positions, I was called for interview with a district superintendent. At the conclusion of the interview, the superintendent asked me for a current reference. I did something that I hadn’t been able to do during any of the previous interviews: I gave him the name of my current supervisor..the man who I had apologized to for my disrespect and who had been on the receiving end of my horrible attitude. I gave my supervisor the power to decide if I was going to become and administrator or not. My supervisor was such a good guy. He only remembered that I apologized to him and that I was now showing him the respect he deserved. What a class act he was. He could have used that opportunity to really put the screws to me. But he didn’t. Instead, he gave me a wonderful reference. I got that job! If I hadn’t grown in my emotional maturity during this time period, I never would have become an administrator; A job that I so desperately wanted.
The next observation that I have made about emotionally mature people is that they are respectful to their parents. I have worked with hundreds of students who were discipline problems. The one thing they all had in common is that they were rude and discourteous to their mother and father. The next observation that I have made about emotionally mature people is that they are respectful to their parents. I have worked with hundreds of students who were discipline problems. The one thing they all had in common is that they were rude and discourteous to their mother and father. These students almost went out of their way to bully their parents and were always telling them to shut up. Most times the students treated their parents like they were second class citizens. People who are emotionally mature have respect for the position that a parent has in their life. They respect their parent’s age and their opinions.
My parents were very tough to deal with. Even as I got older, I always viewed them as somewhat meddling. The bottom line: They were my parents and, if nothing else, I owed them respect. I always have concerns when I observe young men or women treating their parents with disrespect. I know somewhere down the road they will regret their actions. Unfortunately by that time, it may be too late.
Next The Principle of Honesty
If students are to be successful they must posses certain qualities that they can carry with them throughout life. This FREE resource contains 15 articles that explains the importance of these qualities and why they must be taught to our students.