In a recent post it was suggested that being polite and courteous toward others is not only a good way to be for its own sake, but also because it’s good business. Within the article, there was a very cool quote from Ben Franklin that read, “If rascals knew how much money they could make by being righteous, the rascals would become righteous through pure rascality.”
A friend of mine on Facebook replied:
“Love that quote by Ben and, to tell you the truth, the only caveat to living this principle is that I think a few rascals have heard and adopted that quote.”
Actually, I’m sure many have. And, it seems that might just be a good thing. If, by acting righteously (even if only because it is advantageous to do so) they serve others better and more honestly, that’s fine. Hopefully, in time, they will actually become the way they are acting. Even if not, I’d still rather them take righteous action than “rascally” action.
For example, a business owner I know who provides excellent — more like exquisite — customer service and care has told me he does this for no other reason than the fact that it is great for business…not because he intrinsically cares about making others happy. I’ve known him long enough to believe him. 🙂
While you and I might wish that his righteous actions were also because he really did care about others, the fact that he acts righteously regardless (simply out of rational self-interest) is still much, much better than the alternative.
Just my opinion, of course. And, yours?
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That’s a tough question, Bob. I totally agree with the basic concept of I’d rather have everyone behaving righteously than not. My fear would be what would happen when things go sour — for whatever reason.
Wouldn’t the rascals resort to total self interest when the going got tough? Would that, then, result in them abandoning in time of need?
Hi Gill. Interesting thought. I don’t see it that way but I might not be seeing what you are seeing. What do you mean, specifically (or, just as examples) by, “when the going got tough?”
Your opinion is my opinion as well. Although it’s nice to think that those who provide righteous service are authentically nice people, if they’re not, that’s OK. As long as they’re giving consistently great service, they can behave any way they like when they’re not serving. As long as they don’t get “caught” being rascally, I think they’re OK.
Reminds me of a seemingly polished NYC news anchor who thought the cameras had stopped rolling and blurted out QUITE an obscenity, which has now been seen (and heard) by millions http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYAMDhVT50I
I must admit, since this event, I now consider her more of a rascal than a polished pro.
Here’s what went through my head. If you can’t tell the rascals from the authentic then you could end up relying on a rascal. And if something went wrong — a misunderstanding, an unavoidable glitch, any of the myriad things that happen to test relationships over time — the rascal would probably invoke self interest and bail on you, leaving you out in the cold.
However, if rascals always behaved as rascals then at least you could tell them apart.
Partly I’m lamenting the loss of a great relationship a while back. It wasn’t a rascal situation, but I suppose it framed my interpretation of what you wrote. Now that I read it again I see you were talking more “as a whole” from society’s point of view, whereas I was personalizing it.
It was a much nicer place in my mind, to believe that people who treat you nice, are JUST nice. However, I agree that a nice rascal is the best rascal. 🙂
Gill, I think I now understand your initial question. Thank you for clarifying. If the “naturally rascally” person 🙂 reverted back – even under pressure – to his old ways, the free-market will punish him for that behavior, and his business (and profits) will fall dramatically. This also holds true for the “naturally righteous and honest” person who allows difficult circumstances to negatively affect their usual awesome behavior. So, I think that – when it comes right down to it – it is still going to be the behavior that the market rewards and punishes.
Linda and Amy, great points, both of you. Thank you!
Amy, on second thought, I might even replace the word “nice” (which *could* – if with “rascally-intent – be simply in order to manipulate) with honest and other qualities that demonstrate righteous action. Does that make sense?
I have learned that by “acting” with good intension toward someone tends to lead to actual behavior changes within one’s self. And it usually comes from the positive results of your ‘actions’. It is hard to fake being polite and courteous towards others (at least for me). Plus there is a sense of a lack of integrity by faking it. America is a 70% service society – it is in our (and those we serve) best interest to be righteous.
Hi Andrew, exactly…”acting” a certain way tends to lead to the behavior which is one huge reason it’s good that the “rascal” knows that by being righteous he/she is more likely to succeed. When they act that way, they are more likely to become that way. And, of course, as you said (and the point of the article and the one it links back to) it is in everyone’s best interest when people act righteously. Thank you for sharing!
Good post, Bob. The Ben Franklin quote is very witty! It really shows the character and integrity of a person who will only do something for personal gain and not to benefit others. Hopefully, people will be able to make that switch and see the value of respecting others. But in the meantime, the alternative is much better. Keep up the sensational work : )
Thank you, Chi Chi. Yes, in an imperfect world… 🙂
🙂 My Bob, Is this what you meant? It was a much nicer place in my mind, to believe that people who treat you with “honest and other qualities that demonstrate righteous action”, are JUST “treating you with honest and other qualities that demonstrate righteous action” to gain your business. I agree that a rascal “with honest and other qualities that demonstrate righteous action” is the best rascal.
No, I agreed with your premise the first time. Was just clarifying difference semantically with the word “nice.”
Gotcha. Thank you for the semantic correction. I love the way you clarify your communication. I am learning much from you My Bob.
Awwww, thanks, My Amy! 😉
And I will be Thrilled when the concept of being Nice, Courteous, have excellent Customer Service is not only because it is best for business yet everyone is doing it because they actually LOVE what they do, and are genuinely and authentically Caring enough to want to be in that space…
I think overall if we Do what we LOVE and we Hire people that LOVE what they do, the natural inclination would be to be nice, courteous etc… because you are in the state of Joy because you are doing what YOU Love to do versus hating what you do…
Hm… Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone got to do what they LOVED to do versus NOT…
Regardless I always attempt to come from the space of Nice, even if somebody is not towards me… NOT that I am perfect and I have had my days LOL…
Carly: Absolutely! I think that what Ben was saying was that the fact that it does happen to be in the best interests of a person (even a rascal) 🙂 to be honest and ethical works out for everyone involved.