Archive for February, 2015

We have all come across them; the arrogant so and so who just rubbed you the wrong way. They act like they know everything and no matter what you do you will be wrong. We have all also met their counterpart the confident so and so who made you feel like you both were right.

I did a Google search on confidence vs arrogance it returned almost half a million results. There are pages and pages of websites just explaining the difference between the two. There are pages and pages of websites with quizzes you can take to discover if you are confident or arrogant.

What is it that makes one person seem so off putting and another seem warm and inviting? How do you deal with them? I have a friend – we will call him Abe – who comes off as arrogant and condescending. Abe is actually a really nice person but the way he carries himself combined with being very smart, very good at what he does and a touch of shyness, conspires to make him seem inaccessible, thus leading to the impression of arrogance.

I have another friend – Jill – who is confident enough in herself and her abilities that she doesn’t worry about what you think of her or her choices. She makes you feel like your choices are yours and hers are hers and great if they meet and great if they don’t.

One of the apparent differences is one makes you feel good about things and one makes you feel bad. Often time it has nothing to do with the actual person. Abe can’t help that sometimes people feel intimidated by his abilities and slightly repulsed by his shyness and the way he carries himself. What many perceive as arrogance is just good posture and social awkwardness.

Jill has the opposite effect on people, she makes them feel comfortable. This type of confidence has come from experience and a projection of competence. People perceive her as being confident and able.

Confidence vs arrogance comes down to likeability. Abe is thought to be arrogant because people are put off by him. Jill is thought to confident but not arrogant because people like her. So what should Abe do?

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So you’ve been thrown off your game, the boss doesn’t like your report, the kids teacher says your kid is not progressing the way they should, your spouse tells you at the last second they hate that color on you. What do you do?

Do you just take it, curl up in the fetal position and quit or roll with it? There are pluses for each reaction. Standing there while the boss tells you how off the mark you are, while the teacher tells you your kid is behind, looking at your clothes as you get ready to leave and no time to change, feels like a punch in the gut. Feels like you have turned to stone and if you move you might throw-up all over your shoes, and you just don’t know how to react. And your mind just wanders off into its own form of denial.  What can you say? How do you defend yourself? How do you defend your kid, your project, your outfit? What can you do?

Curling up in the fetal position and quitting while is mostly meant figuratively in these cases is often a comfort. Who hasn’t flopped down on their beds, curled up with a pillow, quit and had a good cry? But you have to get up again, unquit/rehire yourself and fix the problem. Curling up in a ball and quitting only delays the problem. It doesn’t fix it, the report doesn’t get fixed, your kid does get the help they need to progress, the clothes don’t get changed if you stay curled up in fetal position. Quitting doesn’t solve the problem. It doesn’t solve any issue, it is a great way to get the anger and frustration and other negative emotions out. But once they are out you have to get up, brush yourself off and solve the problem. Pity parties can only last a short duration.

So that leaves us with rolling with it. So the boss doesn’t like your report, fix it. Find out what they don’t like and fix it. Sure it took you weeks to complete it, sure you worked hard and were proud of it, sure you did your best. But it wasn’t what the boss wanted. Fix it, most of the time the hard work is done all it needs is tweaking.  So your kid isn’t progressing the way the teacher thinks they should. There are lots of ways to fix it. Some kids learn at a different pace, find your kids pace.

And last but not least your spouse hates the color of the clothes you are wearing. My biggest reaction to this is so what, don’t look at me then. There are some problems that aren’t problems. So what! is a legitimate reaction to some problems. If you don’t like what I am wearing don’t look at me. This isn’t my problem it is the other persons.

When you have been thrown off your game, you have options on how you react. All three of the options listed above are perfectly legitimate, standing frozen while the other person lets you have it, curling up in the fetal position and quitting, rolling with it. You can do them all as long as eventually you fix it.

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How many of us are doing the job we planned to do? When we were kids we wanted to be astronauts, firemen, actors, singers, whatever exotic thing our moms or dads did. How many of us actually end up doing those plans? Not very many, currently, there are 77 people who are astronauts and all told there have been around 1000* from all countries give or take a few. There are considerably more firemen, actors and singers but still a majority of people do not grow up to be them.

More of us grow up to do something similar to what our parents did. Work in a factory or an office and then do the things grownups do. I didn’t plan on being a sales person. It just seems to have worked out that way.

The saying goes “God laughs when man makes plans.” When I was a kid I wanted to be a stay at home mom, baking cookies for the kids snack after school, wearing pearls and pretty dresses – I wanted to be Mrs. Cleaver. When I became a parent it became very apparent to me I would not be following this plan. First off kids and life are way too messy to be wearing pearls and pretty dresses and to be able to have the white picket fence would require two incomes and someone with Tom Sawyer abilities to get it painted.

A plan is a good guideline but it has to be fluid, you have to be willing to make changes. We saw two very good examples of needing to be willing to change the plan in the last few weeks of NFL football. The Green Bay Packers were a few minutes from making it to the Super Bowl. The plan was they were going to run the ball a certain amount of times. They had not gotten to that number yet; instead of using the best quarterback in football and throwing the ball down the field and scoring they ran the ball three times and punted. Seattle stages a comeback and wins the game.  In the Super Bowl, Seattle had run the ball as many times as they planned so instead of giving the ball to the best running back in the game they throw the ball it’s intercepted and Seattle loses the game.

Having a plan is good, strict adherence to the plan to the detriment of everything else is not. Life has a way getting in the way of your best laid plans. More often than not it’s a good thing.

*a number I guestimated

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