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The self is fragile

First impressions and appearances can be deceptive many a times. It has happened a few times when I thought I had sized-up the person well and s/he turned out to be completely different. So much for my sizing up skills! The person in question here is someone who was in a very senior position in one of the companies I worked in. The first day he came in to meet us, I was charmed by the way he spoke and the way he carried himself. He looked like a man of authority, who spoke well and who also knew his business very well. I was quite impressed.
 
Only as days went by, did his real self came peeling off like a badly done paint of a wall. He was downright arrogant with people who stood up for themselves or who had the guts to say no to his face. He couldn't take disagreements gracefully. I was for one among the people who rubbed him in the wrong way. This was my third job and by now I was far from the eager over-enthusiast who'd bend backwards to please my mentors/seniors in the greed of getting noticed and appreciated for the sincerity and hard work. I truly understood how the corporate world functioned and knew how to just do my stuff and stay clear from getting stuck in yucky politics and the quick-sand of "being in the good books" of the senior management. Sure, I was still sincere and worked hard but there were no stars in my eyes of hogging the lime-light for this quality alone.

Anyway, I digress. It is sometimes comical to see a person of such stature and position stooping so low as to play child-like games of being miffed because someone had the guts to say no (for genuine and personal reasons) for a request that was not even related to work. And go to the lengths of ignoring or talking to the employee in a condescending tone in public. Why the arrogance and the superiority complex? Or is it some insecurity within that saw a small disagreement as a matter of loss and win? Shows what ego can do to a person. Education and exposure to the world in general does not really guarantee a humble attitude. It is quite rare to meet accomplished people who are also genuinely humble and gracious while dealing with people from the lower ranks.

And then, isn't it difficult for many or most of us to refrain from showing off our knowledge and maybe superiority in the company of people who we think do not quite meet the mark of our high selves? Little or more, this bloated sense of self is present in all of us. Whether we choose to mask it or wear it on our sleeves depends, perhaps, more on our basic nature and the environment we grew up in. This "I" is so fragile and it takes very little for anyone to cause damage to it.

Comments

  1. Irrespective of education, upbringing, social status, people around us and even genes, I believe that each one of us is wired with a core behaviour which cannot be altered by the said factors.

    some people are supremely arrogant.... and it has got nothing to do with authority or position. its just the way they are, though it isn't, by any means, justified that they make others go through hell.

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    Replies
    1. sometimes sudden change in social status and surroundings do tend to change the person beyond recognition.
      Agree, arrogant people shouldn't be suffered gladly.

      Delete
  2. I am very very bad at judging people..honestly...I have given up on that...I set out to greet and be-friend people with no expectations at all...
    I always feel that we all are arrogant at one level..its just how we can curb it in public makes a lot of difference!

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    Replies
    1. no-expectations is a great and hard-to-come-by policy.
      //how we can curb it in public makes a lot of difference!//
      Exactly!!!

      Delete
  3. i had a woman boss similar to this guy. and she was an old woman like i mean a granny and yet indulged in childish mind-games, politics, caustic remarks, royal ignore .... you really had to lick her ass or you were outcast almost the next second. power corrupts absolutely was written with her in mind or suited her to the T

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    1. I feel these people are highly insecure in someway and cannot bear it if someone doesn't subscribe to their thoughts. Power in such people's hands can be dangerous.

      Delete
  4. Arrogance and artificial people are something I simply cannot stand! I second R's mom is saying I sincerely accept I have failed in judging people and have stopped doing that now.

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    1. well, they should not be put up with by anyone I'd say.
      yes, judging people and unravelling their true self is quite complex.

      Delete
  5. Yes Uma, you are right, it mostly can be attributed to insecurity, a false sense of superiority and also perhaps the need to be perfect at all times. I agree the corporate world is full of such types. And if you have one as your senior/boss, life can be difficult. But you know what, I see such people everywhere, so full of ego and so opinionated. It is best if you can recognize and stem this trait in yourself but for the rest, just pick and choose your interactions with them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. pick and choose your interactions is the best and my kind of policy too :-)
      well, he wasn't my immediate boss, so that made matters easier.

      Delete
  6. It is very disappointing to see the people we admire, stoop to such levels... I have observed it in my corporate life too..

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    Replies
    1. True. Real life role models are difficult to come by these days.

      Delete
  7. So true, Uma. Digressing a little bit, my fil always says that the most arrogant, un-empathetic people in any company are those from HR!! Though I used to think it was a sweeping generalization, I have found enough anecdotal evidence for this myself :(
    Yes we all have a sense of self which gets bloated when encountering our "inferiors"....also conditioned by our environment to a large extent. I guess that's why its true that you should judge a man by how he treats his inferiors.

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    Replies
    1. Hmm..maybe.. But HR is a thankless job and many genuine people also need to steel themselves to execute unpleasant tasks they are expected to do..
      "I guess that's why its true that you should judge a man by how he treats his inferiors."
      I agree completely!

      Delete
    2. After commenting I realized I didn't know whether you/your hubby are HR professionals :) Oops...if I made any faux pas, sorry, however I'll still stand by my statement! :)

      Delete
    3. LOLOL...nope..we are not HR professionals..in fact don't have one in the entire family! :-))))
      My statement was just to present another side of the story. My friend who is a HR person has it tough too, hence...:-)

      Delete
  8. Arrogance is never a hallmark of a learned man and this works every where! It is the empty vessels that make most noise:)

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    1. Very true. Being educated and being learned are two different things.

      Delete
  9. Hmm, are people with high self esteem really insecure?

    Anyway, I am one of the lucky few to have a team lead who is a tech-god, and genuinely humble and modest. On the other hand, I'd be glad to give my manager's photo; it would be apt for this post. *grins*

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    Replies
    1. @ cmus, err..not sure if high self-esteem equals insecurity. I have always thought, it is the other way around. A very thin line between having a healthy self-esteem and being egoistic.
      LOL on the manager's photo :-) Yes, I have been fortunate to have some good TLs and managers too. Kudos to your TL. May s/he remain so.

      Delete
  10. Nice post Uma ..
    I once heard someone express a beautiful thought on this ..She said 'Only people who are not sure about themselves need assurance from outside' . Which is so true .. An urge to show off one's knowledge, to put down someone else , inability to appreciate goodness in others .. They all stem from a lack of self worth ..
    And how futile is blowing one's trumpet !! At every instance the listener is visibly put off and your mission of appearing great in the eyes of others is a definite failure .. But how funny it is that the best of people cannot hold themselves back from doing this futile thing ..

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    Replies
    1. you've put it very aptly, Aarthy! and thanks :-)

      Delete
  11. Telling me!
    We had an exact replica at my old office, he made life worse than hell for me. From the day I put in my papers, he started literally looking the other way whenever I crossed his path. And to think that he was so many levels above me.
    You are right, they are basically very insecure, even though Dod knows why!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Losers, I'd say!
      Most times people leave an organization because of such people who make office an unpleasant place to be in.

      Delete

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