Saturday, 5 July 2008

Queue etiquette and us

Every time somebody jumps the queue in front of me here, I am forced to think, why only here? why doesn't this happen in the US or the UK, as much as it does here? Are people more ill mannered here? Do they lack basic courtesy?

Many of you would have tried reacting to the queue jumpers by telling them that they are supposed to wait. And you'd also have noticed that some people are quick to apologize and fall back, but some react indignantly as if you have encroached on one of their fundamental rights.

But, what exactly is the root-cause of this behavior? Believe me, it's not that people who jump queues have fundamental flaws in their character. I know people who are perfectly considerate of others in most situations, but then, react differently when put in a queue situation. I've had such people reproach me for waiting my turn, when others behind me were eagerly jumping the queue.

So, what exactly is the psychology behind this? I think it has a lot to do with conditioning. People are conditioned to think that if you don't fight for what you want, even if it means using unfair means, you won't get what you want. And every time someone succeeds in getting his way in such manner, the belief simply gets reinforced.

So, the next time you see someone jumping the queue, tell them politely that you are waiting ahead of him/her in the queue - this I'm sure most of us try to do.

But more importantly, next time you see someone jump the queue, talk to the person serving the queue; because if they serve someone who just jumped the queue ahead of someone else, they have just reinforced the belief that made him/her jump the queue in the first place.