It came up again the other day.
Some people don't like me.
That's always kind of, well, puzzled me. I suppose it shouldn't. I know for a fact (because she's told me so) that my lady wife didn't like me much at all when we met in college. I know also that my academic advisor was hoping I'd transfer preferably to a different college (He actually got his wish for a semester). As a young man I protected myself with an facade of nearly unbearable bravado. I behaved as if I were supremely confident to cover my utter lack of confidence.
Do I still do that? I don't think so. Many, many people seem to like me. I've worked hard to lower my guard and be myself. It's taken years of work but I do believe that I'm pretty good at several things I do.
So why don't people like me?
My thoughts would include:
1: Because I am a confident person. I've been fairly successful at several things over the years. I know what I'm good at. I don't brag about it (any more) but I'm not going to be falsely modest either.
2: Because I'm smart. No, I don't think I'm bragging. My IQ has tested consistently well above average. I'm fairly well read and I read widely. Consequently I know a bit about a great many subjects. I know, like and use big words sometimes. Because they're the best words for the moment I believe. Traditionally American culture doesn't like smart people. The anti-intellectual strain still runs deep. You can be a second rate jock and be a "regular guy" that everyone loves. A brilliant nerd will always be the butt of jokes.
3: Because I believe what I believe. I try not to hold opinions without some basis. Because I do try to get a deeper understanding before I take a position I'm not likely to give up that position easily. I am open to having my mind changed. You will need to have a COMPELLING argument to do it and you can expect that I will challenge the basis for your argument and question you on the details. People don't like that.
4: Because I expect people to work as hard and care as much as I do. Not about everything. If baseball bores you, more power to you. But if we work together, I work hard. I expect a lot of myself and I don't see any reason why you should get paid to do half ass work. Now I acknowledge that we need to be judged by the quality of our gifts. I don't expect you to match me in areas where you are not as gifted as I am. Or vice versa. But I expect you to work hard to achieve whatever level you are capable of achieving. You'll have my support and I expect yours. I once told a group of my former co-workers that the company had given us everything we need to succeed and if we didn't they should fire us all. They complained to the boss who, astoundingly to me, TOOK THEIR SIDE!!! I was told I expected too much of people. I don't think so.
5: I don't kiss butt. I avoid playing office politics whenever possible. That cost me a job once. I'm not going to pretend just to make you feel better. When I've been a supervisor I've tried to be as gentle and caring as possible when I have to chew someone out. But they get chewed out.
As a younger man it bothered me tremendously that people disliked me. I will admit it still bothers me a bit. But I am who I am. I am flawed but I'm working on those flaws. Otherwise I'm comfortable with who I am. I'll take whatever comes because of it. I walked out after losing my last job with my head held high. I left honorably and without compromising on what I felt was important.
In the end I need to look at myself in the mirror, I need to face my family and friends and be able to say I did what I thought was best. I did what I believed was right.
And if you don't like me? I sincerely ask that you sit down with me and tell me why. Offer me the chance to explain or change. I will listen as openly as I am able. If our differences are too great then at least we can part with honest understanding between us.