Norms are part of our lives. Some of the patterns that we consider as normal do have an adverse impact on how other people perceive of us (Schaffner, 1997). This paper covers the pattern of not saluting my coworkers in the morning, a formal custom that I had adopted for the better part of my career life. It gives details on my fears about breaking it, the process of breaking it and how my colleagues received the change.
I have worked in Teepee Company for four years now. Being an introvert, I rarely greet members, not because I do not like them, but because it has been my way of life. The norm that I would like to break is a formal one. Once I break the pattern, I expect both negative and positive reactions. I expect some to think that I am trying to fit in, or gain new friends. On the positive side, I do expect that some will appreciate my effort in trying to reach out to others. If published, the negative reactions might affect my self-esteem negatively because I do not react well to ridicule, while the positive response may profoundly boost my esteem and encourage me to be open to saluting people not only in my workplace but also in social gatherings. Being the active person I am, after the reaction, I will keep an open mind, keep the positive one, and work on the negative ones. I will not let the negative feedback pin me down.
Contrary to my expectations, the receipt after breaking the norm was quite good. My office mate in particular highly appreciated my effort to break the bad habit. I was involved in discussions that I was excluded from, and was in a position to attend forums that I considered as not being important to me. The positive response to saluting my colleagues highly encouraged me to do completely away with the norm. It showed me the importance of acknowledging others. I was a happier and a more energetic person and looked forward to going to work every single day, something that I did not like before. The reactions strengthen te norm in two ways. Firstly, I feel more appreciated now than ever before. In greeting others, I sometimes get to strike conversations with my work mates and understand their personalities, which helps me to know how best to deal with them in different situations. Secondly, most colleagues admitted that their perception of me changed, and they now viewed me as an approachable person. From the modification, I learned that I can change a lot about myself if I keep an open mind. I can easily do away with the harmful habits that I possess within myself if only I (without any external influence) make a concrete decision.Norms are not easy to break more so if they are a part of our daily routine (Vazquez-Salceda, 2004). We might have a fear that people may have a different view on the same. If the norm results in a negative reaction from people, it is important for one to let go of the fear of ridicule and break it (Kwan, 2011). If one gets positive reactions like I did, use them to strengthen yourself, and get encouraged to break more harmful norms. The results may be worth the effort.
Kwan, S. (2011). Challenging the Norms. Chicago: Crossroads Press.
Schaffner, C. (1997). Translation and Norms. Chicago: Hillside Press.
Vazquez-Salceda, J. (2004). Role of Norms. New York: Prentice Press.
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