XoJane is currently one of the sites in my daily rotation. I particularly like the themed columns "How not to be a dick..." with subjects like: How Not to be a Dick to your lesbian / asian / unemployed friends" or "How Not to be a Dick to fat people / thin people / chronically ill people" or my current favorite"How not to be a Dick as a houseguest". I'm very houseproud and hate when people touch my things (especially my signed copy of "The Powerbook".
Every time "How not to be a dick' graces the recent articles on xojane, I know that day is going to be a good one. I wish I could share these informational tidbits with friends and acquaintances (this and this) but I'm typically happy to just expand my own non-dickish abilities (since I know how to be a dick quite well.)
But really now, how about how not to be a dick, period? I've been going through a period of assessment of my life and the choices that it's made up of and have been disillusioned with friends and colleagues, my career and seeming non-career, and rather disappointed in the fact that the bathroom ceiling is in fact going to fall in any day now. And all my musings lead me to trying to be nicer to myself, which is hard enough without other people not being all that nice to me. So without further ado, let's all help ourselves and others by trying not to be dicks!
1) Assuming you know the status of: my bank account, relationship, current emotional situation
Didn't your fourth grade teacher ever tell you that to assume is "to make an ass out of 'u' and me'?" Assuming you know something makes you seem presumptuous and uninterested in listening, and no one wants to talk to people who don't want to listen. Assumptions are quite often wrong, which may lead to misunderstandings among friends or colleagues which can spiral into even less fun territory.
Most people assume negative things about people, but assuming seemingly positive things about others can be harmful too. All my friends seem to think I have a lot more money than them (even though most work in much more lucrative fields) and thus come to my house, pay for nothing, drink my alcohol, eat my food, and barely even say thank you. Sorry, but still not independently wealthy but I will give you a call from the private jet when it comes through.
To quote whoever said it first: You don't know me! So, listen, learn, ask questions, and get to know someone instead of just guessing.
2) Being ungrateful toward others and about life in general
It makes most people sad when others don't thank them for favors, gifts, or assistance. Saying 'thank you' is one of the easier things you can give another human being, especially when paired with eye contact and sincerity. So, thank people. Not just for money or material gifts, but for noticing new haircuts and carrying heavy objects or giving you back exact change. Most people will appreciate your appreciation and you'll probably feel pretty good too.
In the big picture, be thankful for everything you have because it is most often so much more than others. When people complain endlessly about their 75K salary not being enough, I cringe. I've watched people skip necessary medicine for months in attempts to put food on the table for their growing children. Violation of basic human rights happens every day around the world, whether it is aimed at women, children, LGBT, or just unfortunate bystanders. When you are ungrateful, you aren't contributing to the solution and your careless comments might make someone who is secretly suffering feel that much worse.
3) Forgetting that you are not, in fact, the center of the solar system
The sun is the center of our solar system, actually. And we aren't the only solar system anyways, comrades.
But hey, didn't your mother ever tell you the world doesn't revolve around you? If she didn't then, your mother was either really nice or a really forgetful so let me help: the world does not revolve around you. Or me. Or President Obama. (Though this woman may be a sun in her own solar system). When you act like you are the end all be all of some imaginary center stage, you become a first class dick, and that my friends is what we are trying to avoid.
Remember other people have places to go and people to see too. Waiting in line / traffic won't kill you. If a few more seconds go by before a grande frappuccino is placed in your outstretched hand, you will survive. This applies to special occasions too; you're not the first human to get married, have a baby, or get a really great job. Doing any of these does not instantly reduce those around you to serfs on your fiefdom. Just take a deep breath and look around. See those things moving about the world that resemble what you see in the mirror? Those are other people. Treat them as such.
And there you have it, some simple ways to help each and everyone of us be less like a dick in the most general of terms. Let's go forward into this great big frighteningly interesting world we share and not be dicks! (or at least most of the time). Godspeed.