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Am I Condescending or Are They Insecure?

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This topic contains 35 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  nextsteps 1 day, 14 hours ago.

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  • #285965

    Ashley
    Participant

    I’ve recently been told that I’m “condescending” and so many people in a club a belong to don’t want to associate with me. I think they are insecure in the face of success. How can I know which is true?

    I am a very highly accomplished person. I am now in my 3rd career. I was a successful investment banker and then a tenured business school professor. I’m educated to the postdoc level, I’ve lived in 5 countries and 11 cities, am the author of three books and have been featured by leading publications such as BusinessWeek etc. At the moment I work as a consultant to C-Suite executives at major public corporations. [I know investment banking/academia/management consulting are cliched for producing arrogant people].

    I am a very confident person and I have a view of the world that is an educated and well informed one. I have unconventional views on issues that I will strongly defend on the basis of logical argument and defence. In terms of personality, my MBTI rank is that of a Debator (which makes me naturally argumentative – I enjoy the mental exercise of debating an idea, and nothing is sacred and, because I have a very rational mind, I can come across as insensitive). In terms of behaviour, the only significant aspect of me is that I’m hyper-dominant. And I’m financially secure, I enjoy wearing luxury Swiss watches, wearing gem-stoned cuff-links, driving luxury cars etc. [simply because I can].

    The truth is that for most purposes I am better educated/informed/experienced than most people I interact with. But I do not think I’m arrogant or have a superiority complex about myself.

    But this comment has been made to say why I’m having difficulty making friends in this club. I think that the people who are judging me are intimidated by my success and feel “less than” as people. When I asked for an example of my behaviour being condescending, they couldn’t name one off hand.

    Now the particular group I’m interacting with know my background. However, I make it a regular practice to go into the Casbah portion of the inner city at least once a week. There nobody knows my background, I go there in short pants, unshaven, and interact with all the people who live/work there. They all know me by name and look forward to seeing me. I do not make them uncomfortable in any way.

    So I’m trying to make sense of this club’s environment. Is it me or is it them?

    #285981

    Mark
    Participant

    Ashley

    You can ask yourself if you rather speak than listen, if you are more judgemental than compassionate, if you rather be right than wanting to understand, if you rather find differences than ways to connect and if you look for ways to love.

    Mark

    #286017

    AEG
    Participant

    Hi Ashley
    I once had a friend who unfortunately died in an accident 25 years ago.We, his friends could see he had an appearance very similar to what you describe,productive and successful in his academic field, taking care of his expensive car and living in a house with a magnificent view over the city where he occasionally would sit and play the grand piano.
    To those who did not know him over time and did not know about his personal background he would have appeared condescending, I believe (his mother committing suicide when he was 11, upbringing for some years at a boarding school etc.).
    To us he was just himself, self confident but also in moments insecure and expressing a deep sadness in his (brown) eyes.
    He died an in fact heroic death in his mid 30s and is now almost forgotten, as he was childless.His girlfriend whom he adored was sweet and a “commoner” as they say in England, if such things as class exist.
    I believe you just should continue playing with your toys and visit your club, and as time go by I think you will connect with others if mutually opening up over lived life (personal and professional) and listening to each other.
    Sincerely AEG

    #286051

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Ashley:

    The answer to your question may be in the following:

    How do you interact with people of equal education to yours, and with people of greater wealth than yours, much greater…  how do you feel in their company and how do they treat you?

    anita

    #286059

    Ashley
    Participant

    How do you interact with people of equal education to yours, and with people of greater wealth than yours, much greater… how do you feel in their company and how do they treat you?

    This has pretty much been the story of my life. I was the working class kid who went to private school, and the guy who got a scholarship to study at the Ivy Leagues. The best way to describe the way I interact is by being competitive, primarily about ideas. I don’t think I’m a respecter of prestige or title. If you have the same education as I or are wealthier, I’m just as likely to call you out on a B/S as I am to others.

    How do I feel in their company – depends on how long I’ve known them. Those I’m still getting to know I’m guarded around. Those who I have established some working relationship with I’m comfortable around.

     

    But I’m missing the insight you wish me to gain here Anita!

     

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 6 days ago by  Ashley.
    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 6 days ago by  Ashley.
    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 6 days ago by  Ashley.
    #286069

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Ashley:

    I didn’t have an insight in mind that I wished to communicate to you. I ask questions looking for answers. Sometimes it takes asking more questions. It is sort of shining a light in a dark room in this corner or that one, looking for possible answers. It is up to you of course, to engage with me in such a process.

    Can you give me an example of what you said to a person just before that person told you that you are condescending, and what you said to the person after hearing the condescending comment?

    anita

    #286089

    Ashley
    Participant

    Can you give me an example of what you said to a person just before that person told you that you are condescending, and what you said to the person after hearing the condescending comment?

    Some background. I know (for a whole lot of reasons) that I need to be more sociable, make the first move, show interest in others. So, there’s a guy in a club I belong to. He and I seem to share an interest in coaching in the business environment. He joined the club, more recently, so I took the time to welcome him, get to know a bit about his background etc. I travel a lot but this weekend I was going to be in his city. So I sent him a message saying that I would only be in town for the weekend, would he like to grab a cup of coffee with me.

    His response: “Thank you for the invitation Ashley, but I’m going to politely decline“.

    I was a bit put out about this rejection, so I asked another member of the club for her reaction. She says he’s probably wary of me because I’m condescending. I asked for a specific example of a behaviour that demonstrated condescension and she was unable to point something concrete out to me. The fall back is “well you know the way you talk about your education, your career, your international experience and the like”.

    That’s why I’m battling to understand if it’s me or them?

     

     

    #286101

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Ashley:

    What I figure is this: it is very common for people to lack self confidence, to question their worth, to compare themselves to others. I used to be and do these things.

    When you present yourself to others the way you did in your original post: “I am a very highly accomplished person.. I’m educated to the postdoc level, I’ve lived in 5 countries… I am a very confident person”-

    – that is suitable to a work resume or an application to a professional role, maybe, but it is not suitable in the context of other social interactions, it simply reads arrogant and it irks all the people who feel less than “very confident”.

    My answer to your question: “Am I Condescending or Are They Insecure?”- is both, not one or the other.

    Interestingly, there is an area for you to improve- social skills: present yourself with some humility so to not irk people.

    anita

    #286135

    Mark
    Participant

    Ashley,

    I am curious what is your response to my post.

     

    Mark

    #286155

    Michelle
    Participant

    Hi Ashley,

    I’ve both worked with, managed and known many people in your situation with similar achievements. As such, one thing I would say – there tend to be two camps, there are those who tend not to mention them and you find out almost by accident one day some of the amazing things they have done and those who like to bring them centre-stage, here, this is me and all I have done.  The second way can very easily come across as condescending even if not meant as such. I suspect that when you go to your Casbah area, you are not talking about these achievements, you are simply being yourself – i.e. more like the first camp of people.

    To me, it sounds like you are using your achievements as a bit of a shield against insecurity still held that you don’t actually fit at this club, often the way with people who have had to fight hard for them in a group of people who have perhaps gained them more easily, more naturally part of the “club” ( right schools, connections, holidays you know what I mean here ).  There is absolutely nothing wrong with a healthy debate – but it involves listening as much as talking, being open yourself to change, not simply looking to prove others wrong, however right you believe your own logical arguments/points to be.

    Sound at all familiar?

    #286317

    Ashley
    Participant

    cite=”Mark” I am curious what is your response to my post.

    Imagine all the people…….lol

    No seriously Mark, this is a question about living in the world, not one about not being of it.

     

     

    #286319

    Ashley
    Participant

    I’ve both worked with, managed and known many people in your situation with similar achievements. As such, one thing I would say – there tend to be two camps, there are those who tend not to mention them and you find out almost by accident one day some of the amazing things they have done and those who like to bring them centre-stage, here, this is me and all I have done. The second way can very easily come across as condescending even if not meant as such. I suspect that when you go to your Casbah area, you are not talking about these achievements, you are simply being yourself – i.e. more like the first camp of people.

    Well, there is a difference. In this club, serious intellectual discussions do occur, naturally who I am (in the world) is brought centre-stage. When I go to the Casbah area, the discussions are about insignificant pleasantry’s, so my background isn’t important. I’d like to think that I’m the same person in both places but that different contexts call for different approaches.

    What I’ve noticed is that many of the members make judgements about me, without even having had a conversation with me. I dress like an investment banker, it makes people who are more comfortable in jeans and T-shirts feel differently. The level of speech (my vocabulary and complexity) are higher than most, again people feel uncomfortable. The fact that I have a very assertive and self-confident walk and mannerisms, irks others. If they actually sat down with me they would see that “condescending” aura shrink, but people would rather believe what they want to believe.

     

    (1) Other perceptions of us are their creations, it is they who are responsible for them – ACIM

    (2) What bothers a person about another is actually unresolved issues they have within – Law of Attraction.

     

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 4 days ago by  Ashley.
    #286325

    Mark
    Participant

    Ashley,

    I believe that communication, perceptions, and how we interrelate is not all about the other person’s responsibility.  Your original question on whether your treatment at your club is because of the club members’ perception and judgment of you or that it is how you behave and are dressed.

    I see that you have gotten good feedback from people here (including myself).

    You seem perceptive enough to know how people are responding to you (What I’ve noticed is that many of the members make judgements about me, without even having had a conversation with me.).  I am not sure how you know how the members judge you without talking with them.

    You say you are not getting any specific feedback on why you are perceived as condescending.  My take is when I think or feel a person is condescending is when they talk about themselves without expressing any interest in me; when they talk about how great they are (accomplishments, skills, talents, experience, etc.) when it has nothing to do with the topic at hand or if they do, there is no humility; when they try to one-up me when I talk about myself; when I feel that they are not really listening to me and more focused on how they can start talking about themselves instead.

    Do any of these behaviors seem like how you act?

    Mark

    #286375

    Valora
    Participant

    What I’ve noticed is that many of the members make judgements about me, without even having had a conversation with me. I dress like an investment banker, it makes people who are more comfortable in jeans and T-shirts feel differently. The level of speech (my vocabulary and complexity) are higher than most, again people feel uncomfortable. The fact that I have a very assertive and self-confident walk and mannerisms, irks others. If they actually sat down with me they would see that “condescending” aura shrink, but people would rather believe what they want to believe.

    My take on all of this is that you cannot control people’s perceptions of how they see smartly dressed, accomplished people who use complex vocabularies. If you are generally friendly and don’t speak in a way that makes it sound like you believe those who are dressed down and speak in more conversational terms are “less than,” or inferior to you, then you are likely just being lumped in with a stereotype. I’ve come across quite a few people who absolutely do use their “million dollar words” to make people feel inferior in conversations, and I think those are the people who give others who are simply being their brilliant selves a bad name. The way you dress and speak may also make you seem a bit “uptight,” which can come off as arrogant. If you wish to not be seen as condescending, it might be worth it to dress down a little bit (however many of the other members of that club dress) and use normal conversational speech rather than your complex vocabulary, which may make you seem more relatable. However, I would really suggest that you just continue to be yourself, get to know those who are willing to get to know you, and pay no mind to those who don’t understand you….

    …but maybe, at least for a little while, pay close attention to how people react to your words in conversation. Their facial expressions and body language responses, especially. Notice any changes that happen immediately after you say certain things. That will tell you a lot on whether you’re saying or doing things that are putting people off and what those things are.

    #286407

    Michelle
    Participant

    Well, there is a difference. In this club, serious intellectual discussions do occur, naturally who I am (in the world) is brought centre-stage.

    So, curious – in my view, a good intellectual argument should stand on it’s own merit, without needing to be backed by stating your credentials to be able to make such a case.  Agree, some clubs do set store by such things, though I would contest it detracts from the intellectual debate, not adds.  Therefore you should be able to be the same person in both environments, i.e. yourself.

    Regardless, I don’t think that is your real question here, which is what are you really upset about? Seems to me you hoping for simple confirmation that everybody else is ‘at fault’ and you are in the right behaving as you do and therefore no need to change. Though for someone as allegedly confident and secure as yourself, it is unusual to be upset by such comments as these. Is it the rejection from this guy specifically, who you had from your perspective invested time and effort in and hence surprised it was not reciprocated – or a feeling you are not really accepted in the wider club?  As in your quote (2) – what is it that is bothering you about these interactions/comments that may be unresolved issues you have yourself. You are clearly aware that answers usually lie within on these areas, not external.

    As a Debator and consultant, you will be more than aware that making a good argument is only half the battle, being able to get people to buy into it and accept it is the challenge. I know both the arrogant and non-arrogant types you mention and I know who gets the most success long term. Why do you think people don’t take the time to get you know to realise you are not one of the arrogant ones and turn down your invites? I would suspect it’s related to “I know (for a whole lot of reasons) that I need to be more sociable, make the first move, show interest in others“. That would be a good place to start, what are the ‘whole lot of reasons’?

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