I had some unpleasant email exchanges with someone today. Of course it was about politics and religion - the two subjects almost guaranteed to cause hard feelings. I'm not going to get into that except to note that it can be upsetting to mix our personal lives with our business lives. It's particularly hard for someone like me who is way out of the mainstream in so many ways. I know full well that I don't agree with most of my customers political views and of course they wouldn't like mine very much either. It's fortunate that our two worlds stay separate most of the time - or I'd lose a lot of business!
This morning's email exchange came because I did let a customer into Facebook. That was a mistake, but on the other hand most of my political views are right here in the Opinion section, so I didn't think Facebook would cause any more hard feelings than those pages. I was wrong :-)
Anyway, as I said, that's not the purpose of this post. One sentence from today's exchanges stuck with me:
Umm.. don't we ALWAYS think we are right? Sure, there's room for doubt and sometimes we just say "I have no idea", but if we have reached an opinion on who to vote for or what to do about Pakistan, illegal aliens or whatever, don't we always think we are RIGHT? Can you hold an opinion that you think is wrong? Of course not.
I can certainly admit that I definitely come across as arrogant, confident and as "I know more than you". But let's be honest here: if you've reached a decision, you DO feel you know more than someone who disagrees with you. Oh, you can sugar coat it, you can even say that there is room for disagreement or admit that you might be wrong, but the fact is that you have analyzed the available facts and reached an opinion. You might be very ready to change that opinion should more facts arrive, but right now you are confident that you are right. How could you not be?
I'm reminded of "Often wrong, never in doubt". I don't know who said it, but I definitely feel that way. If that's arrogance, fine, I'm arrogant - and so is every successful person I have ever known. I wrote about that at Arrogance or confidence, where I asserted that you HAVE to be confident to be successful.
As to "I know more than you" : well, yeah, that's part of it also. If I'm sitting with ten people I don't know, yes, I'm going to assume that I probably know more than they do about any random subject. I might be dead wrong about that, and being wrong doesn't upset me, but yes, that is my assumption until I learn differently. Again, arrogance or confidence, your choice.
If you are a mousy little person who always thinks everyone else is better than you are, these words might make you angry. Well, I'm sorry, but that's your problem, and it IS a problem: you aren't likely to get anywhere if you aren't confident and aggressive. I don't mean over-confident: you have to be realistic. If I sat down with ten random people to play poker, I'd expect to win. If I sat down with ten WSP pros, I'd expect to go home broke. Real confidence is knowing your abilities and limits.
So, are you arrogant or confident? Do you know your limits and abilities? Are you the smartest person in the room until shown otherwise?
Good for you. We'll get along just fine. We just shouldn't talk about politics or religion.
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2009-11-07 Anthony Lawrence
As soon as an Analytical Engine exists, it will necessarily guide the future course of the science. Whenever any result is sought by its aid, the question will then arise — by what course of calculation can these results be arrived at by the machine in the shortest time? (Charles Babbage)