Original Thought · Self Improvement


Over the past month, I have been accused of being arrogant on at least four occasions. The accusers didn’t say I was arrogant but that what I was saying was arrogant. According to Meriam Webster’s definition of arrogant;

1 : exaggerating or disposed to exaggerate one’s own worth or importance often by an overbearing manner an arrogant official
2 : showing an offensive attitude of superiority : proceeding from or characterized by arrogance an arrogant reply

I concede that what I said was controversial and worded in a way as to provoke debate but the only dog I have in the race is my opinion. I didn’t exaggerate or express superiority in my position even knowing that the people I was talking with held, a strong polar position. Am I responsible for how my views make you feel about yours? Can I express a differing proposition and allow you to express yours without delving into accusations of assumptive presumption?

If I state, as I did, that “I have easily and comfortably moved from an agnostic to an atheist”, which carries with it a challenge to understand am I pretentious? In these cases, I am sure that if I had said ” I am a follower of Christ”, these individuals may have seen pious sensibility rather than arrogance. Are superiority and inferiority built into differing opinions? I recognize that I see confidence in some leaders, who I share some agreement, while other people that I know look for high-handed pompousness. If I disagree with a policy, I can view the politician as mean-spirited while a supporter sees practicality.
Are my monikers and labels just laziness and laxness? Do I choose mean-spirited for its impact? Should pompous, haughty, proud, insolent, overbearing and arrogant be saved for circumstances that warrant their definition? Have I resorted to a logical fallacy when I create a straw man by invoking a fascist or pervert label when the words or behavior that I am critical of is neither? Did I get a taste of my own exaggerated medicine?
When I make a comparison between two things that share some characteristics, I need to be careful that the analogy only stretches to the common ground. When I am tempted to make a point by extending a ‘guilt-by-association’ inference I need to step back onside. I hold some strong views on equity, social justice and economy that are shared by people that I find detestable. Does that mean that I am detestable too?

Are the phenomena new or have we been shortcutting and caricaturing for centuries? My sense of awareness around the behavior is heightened, and I would like to blame it on the models we see from world leaders in government, business, and charity. But I am not sure that is a valid assessment. I have found examples of biting political satire from the 15th Century, so maybe this can’t be blamed on President Trump, Prime Minister May, Kim Jong-un, Silvio Berlusconi or Robert Mugabe.

Changing how speechwriters, editors, journalists, and pundits choose to describe ‘the other’ is outside my span of control. I can take everything with a pinch of salt, and I can consider how I choose my descriptors and match my intent to my words. That still leaves me a lot of latitudes and obviously, I can ignore the stated intent and be rancorous and obnoxious, but maybe this will force me to acknowledge my intent and accept responsibility. As in many things that I think and write about, this is easy to say and harder to do.

I keep learning, adapting, improving, faltering and getting excited, disappointed, confused but it id the only way I know I am alive.


Self Improvement

Feedback Fails

Do you offer advise, solicited or uninvited? Do you provide feedback to friends, colleagues, bloggers, writers, businesses, servers, legislators? How much drama is involved in the way you advise, criticize, or offer feedback? Does conflict arise when you provide helpful suggestions?

How do you receive input about what you are doing or should be doing? Are you grateful or resentful or ambivalent? It can be tough to take feedback that we hear as negative. When I hear advise that seems contrary to what I already believe I can get defensive. It has been years since I threw a big hissy fit but not that long ago I did a pretty good job of pouting.

Is there a better way to offer and receive frank observations?

Build a hero sandwich. When I was actively writing politicians and government departments, I crafted the hero sandwich every time. The meat of the messaging was surrounded with a positive message about how grateful or impressed I was with something that they were already doing. The meat in between was specific to the issue or expectation not pointed at a personality trait or characteristic.
I always am more receptive when offered the hero, even if I recognize the format. I feel the feedback is sincere and valuable if they are taking the time and care to think about what they want to share and hoe they are sharing.
As mentioned above I try to focus on the issue, the practice, the situation not the person. Ad hominum approaches can be forceful but are almost always hurtful. Rather than saying that a colleague is lazy it is better to suggest that delays or missed deadlines or incomplete assignments create difficulties for others.
Even when the feedback is difficult or specific to performance, a passive voice rather than active. Saying ” the data you provided was flawed” rather than you gave me bad data” will be received with less resentment.
I have felt deflated or challenged depending on how I heard the message.
If the issue or criticism is pointed towards performance I try to offer specific examples and specific remedies. When I have gotten a general review I usually don’t know what I am missing or how I can change.

Sometimes I am not ready or willing to hear anything. Not advise, suggestions, praise nor glowing reviews. I suspect that my gentlest and best framed feedback hasn’t always bee appreciated. I do appreciate having someone say ” I have some concerns, when would be a good time to have an honest discussion”. I haven’t used that approach but recognizing that it improves my reception, I will be sure to offer it in the next opportunity.

Is there feedback you should be providing? Have you asked someone to let you know what they think about something you are doing or creating? Do we all need trusted critics or honest confidants? My answers are yes,yes,yes.

Take the next opportunity to give better advise and receive advise better.