Career Management in a World Gone Rude

Parenting has never been easy.

Hopefully that statement isn’t too controversial these days. But no matter what political, moral, cultural, religious principles you adhere to, I would think one universal truth in all of it is that raising someone to go out into the world and contribute to it is daunting at best.

I would also think that there shouldn’t be much controversy in saying that in today’s culture, parenting is made even more difficult by the fact that, well, rudeness is everywhere. Again, it doesn’t matter where you live, which world view you subscribe to, or how much of a hermit you and your family have become:

We are surrounded by a general acceptance of rudeness.

Our morning and evening commutes are filled with rudeness. Our reality TV is, well, celebrated for being rude (if you’re a rich housewife AND you’re rude, even better!). And social media seems to be taking rudeness to a whole new level.

When we don’t agree with someone, we call them whatever vile name we can think of…publicly, in front of children, no matter where we happen to be. If we feel like saying it, we should just say it!

But it doesn’t matter because of course we’re right…and it’s our “right”…and politeness doesn’t matter.

We’re sick of being polite anyway.

And self-control? That old thing? That’s for chumps, right? Just tweet out whatever comes to mind, whenever it comes to mind. You can always ask for forgiveness and a book deal later.

In the suburban world my family inhabits, we’re on the edge of “Midwestern values” (we live in the western part of NY that thinks it’s part of the Midwest), which basically means people still don’t want you to think they are rude even when, no, especially when, they are rude. (After all, they were giving you their best smile when they stabbed you in the back.)

To call them out for their rudeness would be the ultimate in, well, rudeness!

As I mentioned, as a parent, this makes life particularly complicated. Asking your teenager to treat adults with respect seems like Parenting 101, right? Of course, that would be a lot easier if the adults in turn acted like fully formed adults, not like taller, fatter, more wrinkled versions of emotionally unfulfilled teenagers. Sigh…

But I digress. My point is not just to bemoan the hardship of parenting, but to look at the general hardship of frankly living in today’s rude culture.

And many times this rudeness comes out most prominently in our careers.

If you are in the corporate culture, or even out in the marketplace as an entrepreneur, business has always been business. If you don’t provide a marketable skill, you pay for it. And if you don’t keep up with the changes in the market, you get left behind. Some people may call this “rude,” but there has generally been an acceptance of economic principles at work and a certain level of personal accountability to them.

Now add in today’s hyper-rude culture to the mix.

It’s tough to manage a career when adults are no longer in charge, when people no longer bring professionalism to work (they might try but lack of self-control is hard to hide for long), and when people think they are educated because they read their news feed that day (you know, the one filled with only news that comes from people they agree with?).

In a world that keeps talking about our collective humanity, we seem to have a strange idea of what that is.

I’m pretty sure we care more about our dogs than we do about our fellow humans. After all, our dogs generally can’t offend us and they certainly never disagree with our religion or politics. Too bad they aren’t running our corporations!

When I speak with corporate executives, they tell me soft skills are sorely lacking. They have to spend a lot of time teaching people basic leadership and politeness skills. It’s exhausting. They feel more like parents than like bosses (and of course parenting is never easy).

(My wife, a freelance editor, had the lovely experience of working with a manager once who had to be sent to “be nice” school because she was inexplicably incapable of being nice on her own.)

It’s true that sometimes in our careers we have to make tough decisions and that sometimes no matter how we try, someone else will interpret our actions as rude or as insensitive.

My point isn’t to turn our culture too soft. It would just be nice if it could strive to be decent. If empowerment didn’t mean being vulgar just because you can be….if someone at the other end of the political spectrum from you wasn’t immediately vilified because of what you perceive to be true about all liberals or all conservatives. (Again, grown-ups usually know better than to rush to extremes…you know, that whole fully formed brain thing?)

Sadly, if you want to navigate through the murky career waters these days, you’re going to need to have a thick skin.

Much like in politics, anyone can spout off whatever they want to whenever they want to. You’re a member of the human race, so you’re fair game.

Whatever you do, though: Just leave the dogs alone. Don’t ever disparage the dogs. After all, it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there…


About Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. Some people just write résumés; he cares about the whole job search. Serving as a Job Search Recruiting Agent, he provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and innovation leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy. Contact Stephen directly at or send him an invite at see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, text “STUCK” to 866-294-1324 to start a dialogue OR click on the calendar below to schedule a free 30-minute résumé assessment:

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