Generic Friendliness

Have you ever experienced this? A cute person in the workplace walks in your direction, smiles and initiates a chat with you. You wonder why this human being would spend precious time talking to a loser, but your doubts are erased once the conversation steps up. He or she seems to be genuinely interested in knowing you and your heart swells with excitement. This could be the beginning of a great relationship, a new-found friend and even a potential mate. You say to yourself, “Smile, relax, be careful of what comes out of the mouth. I’m going to make the right impression. Don’t blow this!”

The conversation wanes, you say your goodbyes, pleasantly salute one another with a ‘take care’, and even cap-off the meeting with a funny joke. You go back to your work, sprits warmed and jaws strained from smiling. Few minutes pass, you turn around and see the same person chatting with a security guard— the person being spoken too exuding the same sick radiance that you exuded earlier.

You feel cheap all of a sudden. The connection you thought you had earlier fizzles in the air. You were not special in that person’s eyes. It was generic friendliness all along and you were just one of that individual’s many sample cases for the day.

Let me explain what I mean by generic friendliness by first discussing generic medicines. Generic medicines are good for the budget and can provide the same level of efficacy as their original counterparts. Yet, the cheap price cant help but make you feel doubtful of the medicine’s quality and authenticity.

In social relationships, there also exist ‘generic’ medicines in the form of common friendliness. The hypothetical scenario I presented earlier depicts generic friendliness being put into action. The cute person who chatted with the loser earlier had a level of sincerity that can be considered as pang-masa, low-quality and even fake.

Generic friendliness is not at all bad. In fact, it is very useful in situations like charity, sales, and corporate life. In doing charitable acts, it is necessary to practice generic friendliness. For example, in third world hospitals, it is not advisable for nurses and doctors to involve themselves in their patients’ lives. In a building full of depression and unhappiness: abandoned, terminally ill, dying patients, etc, the only way to survive (and carry-out ones task) is to have a cold and generic heart.

In sales, there is an obvious need to be generic. You need to smile a generic smile because you need to fake interest in your clients’ lives in order to make that sale.

In corporate life, you need to be generic on everyone because these are the same people who will rate you for that promotion you’ve been aspiring for. It is risky to be too personal on a co-worker (unless you are close to the person) because doing so will be unprofessional. Besides, when serious relationships form in the workplace, your count of adversaries also increase as misunderstandings and breakups happen. It is obviously not a pleasant experience to be forced to work with an ex everyday of the week.

Written by Krislan, edited by arwen and first appeared on on 27th September 2008.

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