Of all things, glam-rock artist Lady Gaga, reminded me of why it is important to be nice to others in life.
In a recent interview about working with musical icon Tony Bennett, she mentioned what different environment she found herself in whenever she walked into the recording studio. The odd couple, by any measure, was recording collection of jazz standards. Tony Bennett, at the age of 88, is sixty years her senior.
“When I walked into the studio, everyone stood up for me and was dressed so beautifully and told me I looked lovely, ” she said. “I’ve never been treated that way before.”
At first I was confused – and then, of all things, felt a twinge of sadness for her.
Regardless of what we might think about her larger-than-life persona or attention-getting antics on stage, inside there is a human being. And to have gone so far through life and never felt the warmth of the respect Tony Bennett expressed is, in many ways, an opportunity for us to pause and examine our society.
We all learn from our environment – particularly our home environment. Lessons we learn there are carried with us forever, not only reflecting the values of our upbringing, but also defining us as individuals as we navigate life. And many of those important lessons are taught across the kitchen table at home.
Which brings me back to Lady Gaga.
Most of us are raised to appreciate the simple premise of treating others with respect, to make them feel special or wanted. Once ingrained in our soul, these simple instincts help guide us through life and ensure we always treat others as if they are the most special people in the world.
But what it what is hidden behind the words Lady Gaga shared that caught my emotions. It is not that she’s never had a door opened for her or for people tell her she looked nice. On the contrary, she’s undoubtedly heard these words countless times before. But until she walked into a room where the Tony Bennett set the tone, she didn’t realize all the others were for a paycheck. Tony Bennett, and those around him, did it because it was the right thing to do.
The other night I was out to dinner with my daughter and a friend of hers. Walking back to the car I instinctively reached to open the car door for her friend. The look I got back was probably similar to what Lady Gaga felt – one of surprise and not sure what to do. As I smiled until she was comfortably seated, I felt a bit of confusion. Was I making her friend uncomfortable by doing this?
Getting behind the steering wheel I thought back to Lady Gaga and her experience with meeting Tony Bennett. Am I just getting old? Is it wrong to go out of my way to make others feel welcome, respected, and comfortable? Should I change my behavior?
And then I thought of Lady Gaga and how she felt around Tony Bennett – and quickly found my answer.
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