Is There A Lowest Common Denominator In Human Behaviour?

When we look at people anywhere and everywhere, we see people of all ages, physical appearances, colours, shades, emotions and a million other attributes.
People seem to be so different and so varied in their physical and emotional appearances.
Often, it happens, that people may be bewildered by these extreme variances between person and another person; between brother and his brother!
But is there something that we humans, have in common behaviourally speaking between us all?
Or not?
You may sit in a cafe, and within a few hours, you will see a banker, a labourer, a doctor, a lawyer, a former prisoner, an unconvicted rapist, a teacher, a child molester, a depressed person, a suicidal person, a socialite, a priest, a physically and verbally abusive person, a prostitute, and so on.
You will notice that practically everyone behaves within the unwritten behavioural codes whereby, in order to safeguard their ‘dignity’, people must adhere to these rules.
A minority of these people – those that society will classify as ‘odd’ or ‘weird’ or ‘disgraceful’ – will not abide by these societal rules, and this behavioural transgression will simply reveal that they do wish to adhere to these unwritten behavioural rules.
The rest – who are the majority – despite their behavioural differences, they will all behave, generally speaking, as we have said, according to the unwritten behavioural rules, and therefore it becomes somewhat difficult for the observer to understand what their ‘real’ personalities are.
With respect to those who do not wish or who cannot conform to society’s behavioural rules, they too, all have common characteristics. The vast majority of such non-conforming men and women, are actors, pretenders, or those who ‘believe’ in the authenticity of their personalities, and they can, therefore, be categorized as Non Conformist People (NCP).
Whereas, a general majority of men and women who conform, can be labelled as – Conformist people (CP).
I have been saying, repeatedly, how different all these people are – in their mannerisms, behaviour, gesticulation, voice tones, expressions of their eyes, accents, body language, and so on.
And yes, how true, for every individual in that conforming or nonconforming category of people, do try to express their individuality, and that they hope, they will convince the person in front of them, that they are completely and uniquely different. And by the latter statement, I mean, that these people are always hoping to convince the people they are seeking to impress, and that they and only they are worthy of attention.
Every person, those who are conformists or nonconformists, will behave according to knowable rules of societal behaviour, and, yes, they will always try to express their uniqueness, their individuality, their specialness when they are with another person whom they are trying to seduce or to impress or to impose their will and personality upon them.
Every person wishes to show his audience that they are significantly ‘different’ from the rest of society and that therefore means that they deserve that much more love, care, attention and interest – or, fear, respect and submission.
Now at the end of our observations, the truth is that all these conformist and nonconformist people – regardless of their age or social ranking or wealth – actually all do behave in a very similar thread.
There is, in other words, a degree of unity, or commonality, in the behaviour of conformist and nonconformist people, as they interact with what is ‘their’ outside world.
This similarity in behaviour, despite the differences in the varying colours so to speak, are all the same in their intentions. And, what are their attentions?
Quite simply: to attract the person in front of them; to seduce the person in front of them and to make or to try to make the person in front of them ‘interested’ or ‘frightened’ or in ‘awe’ of them from a social, or professional or business reason.
What are the perceived needs that most people feel and/or believe that they need in their lives and in their communities as they interact within their society?
Everyone feels and/or believes that they need to be ‘liked’ and or ‘loved’ or ‘to be obeyed blindly by others’.
But, there’s a snag.
The majority of people are not so confident so as to believe in the images that they are projecting for their audiences.
Therefrom, arises insecurity within the actors themselves.
And therefrom, they may stagger or falter as they express their personalities to their audiences.
A majority of people are completely unsure if their personalities and their behaviour and their body language and their language and their spoken words/ideas/stories are being lovingly accepted or are being ridiculed – and the latter thought and prospect causes much fear, anxiety and insecurity amongst people. Add to that most people are not genuine, and so, no one knows, what do our so-called ‘friends’ really are thinking of us. This irritating ambiguity obviously increases our insecurities and anxieties, precisely because, while we may spend hours with a ‘friend’ and that person expresses nothing but being entertained and enjoying your presence, you do know full well, that the minute that ‘friend’ of yours leaves you and goes to his home, he may well begin to spread the word what a total fool you are!
But the oddity in this aggressive society, is that, most people do in fact have all of the same of these most basic feelings, needs, loves, and insecurities.
And here we go back to our title question for this article.
Despite all the bewildering differences between people, there is, I argue, a common denominator, that ‘unites’ us all.
What do I mean by ‘unites us all’?
I mean that most people, conformist or nonconformist, share the exact same mental, emotional, behavioural characteristics and attributes that are utterly passionate – and here I need to stress the importance of this emotion that gives such a strong flavour to all these attributes that I am talking about – as they seek to make themselves loved and/or secure or acceptable in their particular niche of their community – for example, a woman who likes a man, will seek to have that man to be attracted to her and so her behavioural attributes will exist for that one purpose, whilst one businessman sitting with another businessman will behave in a way that will seek to make the person in front of him ‘like’ him and ‘trust’ him so they can conclude a rewarding deal.
So, sit in any lounge, restaurant or hall, and observe the people around you. Again, the first thing that strikes you is how different people look on the outside – from their clothes to their entire panorama of their mannerisms.
Now scrutinize deeper into the minds of all these wonderfully different looking/appearing and differently acting people.
If you were to get to ‘know’ everyone of them, you will soon discover, that they all share a common denominator: they all want to be appreciated; they all want to be helped; they all want to be loved, or they may deliberately show arrogance and contempt for those others in an effort to show their ‘superiority.
And if you get to ‘know’ them even deeper, you will soon discover, that there is a common thread in all their mannerisms.
This obviously contradicts what every person desires to project onto his audience – that is, his ‘uniqueness’.
But, in truth, if you study their mannerisms, you will find that there is a common denominator in the way they express themselves – or to put it crudely, how each person tries to ‘sell’ his personality to his audience – and all in the hope that the targeted audience will ‘buy’ that particular image/personality that is being projected.
This, then, can lead one to think or presume that, perhaps, getting to ‘know’ people generally speaking might just be a dull affair, since, as we have been arguing, most people have common attributes in their behaviour?
In a sense yes and no.
Yes, most people do have common behavioural characteristics and attributes, but, at the same time, each person does bring a different mixture of this collective number of attributes.
It is these differences that does set one person ‘different’ from another person – since, clearly, no two people will have the exact same attributes and to the same depths of conviction in those attributes.
Let us take a simple example. Suppose that Person 1 (P1) has only three attributes to his entire personality: he loves people to flatter and compliment him (Attribute 1, or A1); he loves to talk about himself in a most flattering manner (A2), and he is impatient when other people talk (A3). Assume Person 2 (P2) has the exact same attributes. Does that mean (P1) is a clone of (P2)? No, of course not! Precisely because, in life, each person will have differing mixtures of attributes plus add to that that each person will have different emotions as per each attribute.
Thus, it may be that (P1) is intensively serious on his first attribute (A1), and is less so on (A2) and is less emotional on (A3). Suppose now, that (P2) has the opposite sense of emotional conviction on the attributes, and so he will be the most passionate on (A3), less so on (A2) and least of all on (A1).
This mixture renders the two people that much different in their resulting personalities – and thus their differences.
Yes, we can say to ourselves both (P1) and (P2) have the common attributes (A1 + A2 + A3) but in different degrees, as per the emotions of (P1) and (P2) in relation to the 3 attributes.

Is There A Lowest Common Denominator In Human Behaviour?

Ayad Gharbawi

January 18, 2010 – Damascus, Syria

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