Am I Condescending or Are They Insecure?

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    You have not responded to my or Michelle’s questions.

    I wonder if you settled on knowing why you have a perception that you are not being accepted.



    Dear Ashley:

    This is my understanding:

    The most revealing part of your posts is this: “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”-

    You were one working class student in a school attended by wealthy class students. You felt inferior to them, maybe you were made fun of, bullied for being of a lower social class. To survive and succeed, to not submit, you competed. Because you couldn’t compete with expressions of money you didn’t have, or with other expressions of social prestige, you made your competition “primarily about ideas”.

    It was then maybe that you also developed that “very assertive and self-confident walk and mannerism”.

    And if your story is factually true, you succeeded! You made it through that private school, got a scholarship, continued your higher education and made money to afford some luxury.

    Problem is you are still competing, as if you are still in private school, a working class student feeling inferior and competing. Only now you added items to your competition: “luxury Swiss watches/ gem-stoned cuff-links.. luxury cars”.

    “I’ve recently been told that I’, ‘condescending’ and so many people in a club I belong to don’t want to associate with me”- yes, you are condescending.

    “I think they are insecure in the face of success”- maybe, but no one (not even you) likes to be made to feel inferior. No one should be made to feel inferior. What the kids in that private school did to you (maybe teachers as well) was wrong. And what you are now doing to other people is also wrong.

    Let’s look at this scenario: you are showing up to a social occasion with a luxury Swiss watch and gem stoned cuff-links. A person seeing you wearing these items is not likely to think: oh, I want to talk with him, I want to be friends with him! He may think: oh, I wish I had that Swiss watch!

    So, if you want people to be friends with you, in that scenario, announce: anyone who is friendly with me for the next 10 minutes, will get my Swiss watch, free of charge! – then you will have a volunteer or two. But otherwise, because people don’t go home with your items-of-luxury, they have no motivation to be friends with you, no motivation to endure the unpleasant condescending treatment by you.




    your question “am I condescending or are they insecure” leads me to believe that you’re not mindful of your own behavior. The fact that you’re worry to be accepted by this group should lead you to question why you have this need to be accepted. Are you married? Do you have close relationships?

    You have been asked by two people serious questions about self reflection, but you’ve dismissed them. If you’re serious about understanding who you are, you need to focus on yourself, not on what others think of you.

    I invite you to listen to Ajahn Brahms talk on YT called Changing our attitude to who we think we are.

    good luck and I hope you embark on the journey to discover yourself.




    • This reply was modified 4 years, 7 months ago by Danny.

    First, apologies for not being in contact (I’m managing yet another relocation to another city/province).

    What I’ve noticed is that many of the members make judgements about me, without even having had a conversation with me.

    I’ve discussed this with the club president and he says that when he first met me both he and his wife thought I was condescending but “as we got to know you better we appreciated the person you are more and more“. Yes, first impressions are lasting ones, but being judgemental is probably just as bad (if not worse than) being condescending.

    I am not sure how you know how the members judge you without talking with them.

    I joined this society primarily to make new friends and yet every time I reach out to someone I sense a reluctance (or blatant) to get to know me better.

    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.

    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.

    Look the truth is that I AM superior to them in a number of ways (I’m better educated, more worldly traveled, more experienced with current affairs, more financially stable). However, while I don’t think that makes me a superior/better person, those elements of my personality do come across when a discussion occurs.

    I’m not one to say “Look because I have a Ph.D. I’m right” but I will call upon greater life experience in an area that answers an issue in a perspective they’ve not thought about.

    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?

    No, I’m not “upset” by comments. I know that people will always judge me and their judgments of me (if negative) really don’t bother me. But I’m getting older and I’m really thinking about whether I will (ever) find “my tribe”.

    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’?

    One of the common features (and this is often hidden from people at first and normally only revealed when some kind of trust is formed) of highly successful people is that we often have had to endure incredible personal hardship. For me, it was (among others) being raised by a mother who is mentally unstable (she has an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder) this means I had a childhood bereft of emotional abuse, which I had to work through in therapy. From this experience I an avoidant attachment style, where I am afraid to let people close to me.  With this awareness, I know that I need to take the initiative in initiating relationships.


    The fact that you’re worry to be accepted by this group should lead you to question why you have this need to be accepted. Are you married? Do you have close relationships?

    I think we are increasingly becoming aware of the need to find “our tribes” and the pursuit of mine has become an important endeavour this point of my life. I am not married – I’m an openly gay man who lives in pretty conservative culture and meeting people who have overcome the shame they feel and are living authentic lives is near to impossible in this environment.

    And no I don’t have close relationships. I’ve travelled around so often that I’ve never been in a place long enough to build meaningful relationships. The moment I meet someone and a relationship is just beginning I have to move again due to my work.



    your question “am I condescending or are they insecure” leads me to believe that you’re not mindful of your own behavior

    Are we really ever fully mindful of my own behaviour? Look I’ll be the first to admit that I have a strong personality and that scares some people. I’m a “badass” You have a voice that commands attention when I’m being assertive, I challenge authority, I’m not afraid to ruffle feathers, I’m highly self-confident.

    If you studied my personality using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), you will find that I have the kind of personality that is (and I’m quoting here from the test’s handbook):


    • Very Argumentative – If there’s anything Debaters enjoy, it’s the mental exercise of debating an idea, and nothing is sacred. More consensus-oriented personality types rarely appreciate the vigour with which Debater personalities tear down their beliefs and methods, leading to a great deal of tension.
    • Insensitive – Being so rational, Debaters often misjudge others feelings and push their debates well past others’ tolerance levels. People with this personality type don’t really consider emotional points to be valid in such debates either, which magnifies the issue tremendously.
    • Intolerant – Unless people are able to back up their ideas in a round of mental sparring, Debaters are likely to dismiss not just the ideas but the people themselves. Either a suggestion can stand up to rational scrutiny or it’s not worth bothering with.

    When considering personality, some elements are phenotypic (deliberate efforts to change may succeed) but some are also genotypic (its that unchangeable part of who I am”.




    Sigh, maybe some people just don’t have a “tribe”???


    Let me repeat in a structure of a series of questions for your answer do not directly address what I asked.

    Would you rather speak than listen?

    Are you more judgmental than compassionate?

    Would  you rather be right than wanting to understand?

    Would you rather find differences than ways to connect?

    Do you look for ways to love rather than separate yourself?


    Hey Ashley,

    So everyone has a tribe, it just takes some people a lot longer to find theirs, especially true when you don’t fit the cultural “norm” around you, whichever particular city/country you may be in. I know, since we have similarities here and in perspectives. You will also find you may find a tribe and then as you grow/change, you have to find a new tribe. So being able to build those kind of connections, meaningful ones, real honest ones that actually matter, that make you think and value the relationship and aren’t just ‘fluff’ ( I think you will know what I mean here? ) is a crucial skill to develop.  And the thing is, once you have gained this skill, you start finding members of your tribe all over the world. I travel a lot these days and so long as I can speak the language it is rare not to form these kind of connections, sometimes only briefly, sometimes for longer. But always a ‘proper’ connection, which is what you are looking for.

    And I think perhaps that is the way for you to approach this, as a new skill to be developed, practiced, improved. A different kind of intellectual achievement.  This is not about pretending to be something you are not to be able to make friends, connections – that way doesn’t work, you will also feel inauthentic yourself and so the connection will not feel genuine. But logically you only have three choices as I see it.

    –   You can continue as you are, increasing the number of people you try to meet to increase the chances of finding people who are willing to invest time in getting past your initial condescending/aggressive impression and therefore get to know the real you.

    –    You change your style enough to practice the listening, the two-way give/take, the genuine interest in the other person’s view point, even if it is entirely illogical and emotion-based. I.e. the things Mark is asking about. Basically temporarily  reducing the Debator personality enough to allow others in and find you.

    –    Or it may be worth thinking about why you present a face to the world outside work that is not the real you to start with.  Being very assertive, calling bullshit as you see it, being the ‘badass’ and so on, it’s all a very good way to thrive in the fields you work in but it is not so successful outside the world of work. I get it can be hard to be yourself at work, c-level corporate environments are weird bubbles of the world from my experience and it does take very different skills to negotiate them.  This club may simply be another such environment where you do not feel safe enough to let this mask drop, to let the real you shine through as in your trips to the Casbah.   I.e. you can still be true to your Debator personality without being ( meaning to or not ) arrogant to others.



    Hello Ashley,


    I was pulling up weeds in my garden and your thread popped into my mind so I thought I would reply with my two pence worth.


    I think it can be hard to find your tribe, particularly as you get older as people have partners, children, family and it is hard to find time for good friends let alone make new ones. I empathise with you looking for true friends when moving around so much, I have stayed in one place, but still find it hard!


    I did wonder from the tone of your messages that do you still want to be moving around so much with your work? Or would you prefer to stay in one city? It is really great that you have been and are so successful, I think that is inspirational to many people, but maybe your quest for your tribe is also about wanting more stability in your life in general? I could be wayyy off the mark here so please ignore if you dont think it fits your dituation.

    The second thing I thought was that we begin the world with nothing and leave with nothing, and we are all looking for the same thing eg human connection, so that could be your focus of conversation. What matters to me most about a person is their values eg are rhey kind or caring or considerate etc not what job they do or status they have. So perhaps you could look for ways to demonstrate your values.

    The third thing I thought as that maybe you should try working with animals for a short while. This may sound a bit unrelated to your question, but the reason I say that, is prey animals such as horses, sheep, cattle give you instant and honest feedback on how well you communicate with them in their language-body language, posture etc. They also do not hold a grudge so if you do the communication “wrong” and correct it they respond to the correction as they live in the moment. This allows you to constantly adjust and tweak your body language to influence them. This may also help in human social interactions eg reading body language etc. Animals are honest and forgiving and can hold a mirror in many cases to strengths and weaknesses. I have experienced that myself.

    The other thing I thought of was that you could try either of these things. 1) join a club that plays to your debator type strengths such as toastmasters or a debating society. These people may be more like your tribe than others Or 2) try something you know you havent done before or isnt a strength eg for me this is like a an art class or pottery class. By starting at the bottom and being eager to learn you may find you make connections that way. 3) volunteer for a cause you believe in eg red cross etc. Then your organisation and problem solving skills will be seen as strenghts and by physically doing things with others in a team for a common goal you all believe in it could be easier to find people with things you have in common.


    Take care of yourself.











    Dear Ashley,

    If you’re going to use the MBTI, it would be best to understand it’s origins (Carl Jung) than use a website that gives you a summarized version of the ENTP. Typology is both simple and complex so it’s easy to misunderstand it.

    Also, you believe that there are some things you can’t change because it would mean changing your fundamental genetic, but wouldn’t the better question be whether you can change your perspective on the subject matter? After reading through the many replies in the thread that you’ve started on the simple question of ‘are you condescending or are people insecure’, your many replies have the distinct mark of a perspective in black and white; either they are right or you are wrong. Since the person who made the remark that you were condescending did not have any good example to fall back on, you then went outside of your club to look for clues on whether that person is merely judging you, along with the other people in your club. You then list your credentials and a vague attempt at differentiating how you were perceived in two different situation. Then you listed how other might have perceived you based on first impression, but that eventually went away. Then it was how judgment is made to your background and struggles. The main theme, of course, was YOU. You, you, you. How you struggled and succeeded. How you tried so hard to get where you are now regardless of how much others tried to set you back. And finally, how you are that much better than those whom you deigned to give your time to. There isn’t much in your post on how you could be condescending, not when you’ve achieved so much, other than the fact that others find you condescending. So do YOU think that you’re condescending? Evidently not.

    Now, looking at it in another way, either the people who are a part of your club is being ridiculous or they are simply observing something about you that you don’t want to acknowledge. But lets go back to when you talk about the club member that told you that you were condescending. You’ve listed the fact that she had no good examples of your actions, but there are some things to note down. Is she the kind of person to be direct and say what she thinks outright, especially in the instances that denotes you as patronizing? Does she have a good memory or is life a series of impression to her? Memories aren’t that reliable. How close is your relationship seeing as you might be acquaintances than friends so she probably hasn’t seen the good and bad sides of you? Did you follow up with her on her impression of your patronizing first impression? She might have mull on it and remember some examples, but felt it too awkward to bring it up again. But why does she have to help you figure out whether you are patronizing or not? That is not her job and she was telling you her impression of you, just as you are writing about how others judge you based on your appearance and credentials.

    Just as she has certain impressions of people, so do you. You judge others on their credentials (education, career and luxury) and see yourself as above them. Then you turn around and judge them for judging you based on that same credentials. You excused your judgment as an observation, but when others judge you, they are being insecure. You even use the analogy of being a Debater, the ENTP is not just a typology that debates; rather if you debated any person on every point about a subject, that just makes you argumentative, not inquisitive. Because being an ENTP might mean being a debater so even if you were to talk down to others about a certain subject, question their view and points, be insensitive about their perspective on the topic, that would be alright since you have the credentials to lend you backup. After all, you don’t want to considered their point of view so much as how you can win the argument. You might be insensitive, but you certainly aren’t insensitive to your need to be right.

    Of course, no person ever wants to think or believe themselves to be less than a good human being, but hindsight bias is 20/20 for a reason. And whether you can accept the perspective of another person as a subjective truth is another question. So you can keep asking then keep defending yourself, but all you’re achieving is a loop of ‘they’re probably wrong and I’m the one with the good credentials so they’re just jealous’ etc. You judge them, they judge you, you judge them and it goes round and round.

    Also, no one is entitled to anyone’s time. When you were upset at one of the members for turning down your handout of a welcome, your choice of words created the image that you expected the other person to accept your invitation because ‘your’ time is precious, you are knowledgeable about many things and thus would able to provide advice on things he might be struggling with so he should be happy to even be able to meet you. Yet he had the gall to decline your invitation which lead you to question another member on why that was so. Well, you might not have thought those things, but you definitely felt that it was unreasonable for him to ‘politely’ decline to meet you even when it is perfectly reasonable to accept or decline any meeting with any person, regardless of how well educated and possible well lived that person may be.

    Humans are irrational, emotional mammals. Humans feel first, then think/act. A person is only logical in that they prefer to make decisions on noted fact than emotional ties.


    I see Mark really wants a response, so I’ll try:

    Would you rather speak than listen?

    I think I’m a very critical listener. I prefer arguments (they don’t need to be fact/real) but they must be supported by analytical thinking.

    Are you more judgmental than compassionate?

    Byron Katie tells us that being judgemental is the one thing all humans are expert at, perhaps why all spiritual masters have asked us not to judge. Assessing whether something is backed by sound reason requires judgement. What does “compassionate” even mean Mark? I think I’m able to sympathise but I’m really not someone to empathise with someone.

    Would you rather be right than wanting to understand?

    This is an easy one. I have spent most of my adult life being prepared to be wrong and finding the errors in other’s arguments. This is the very basis of the scientific method. No, I don’t have a need to be right but I do have a need for gaining a broader perspective than I have already.

    Would you rather find differences than ways to connect?

    Certainly, ways to connect. But without having to sacrifice my personality to achieve this.

    Do you look for ways to love rather than separate yourself?

    I’m sorry Mark, that question is a bit too right brain for me. I have no idea of what “ways to love” means in reality. It seems to pie in the sky for me.


    This club may simply be another such environment where you do not feel safe enough to let this mask drop, to let the real you shine through as in your trips to the Casbah. I.e. you can still be true to your Debator personality without being ( meaning to or not ) arrogant to others.

    This club has a very professional and competitive feel to it. Its hard not to be “at work” in this environment. The casbar is not a professional environment and there I have nothing to prove to anyone.


    You judge others on their credentials (education, career and luxury) and see yourself as above them. Then you turn around and judge them for judging you based on that same credentials.

    No, I don’t I just know that in many of those respects I do excel. I may know that I’ve had a more fortunate background and while I notice their academic background, they judge my personality – for me there is a difference. Because I am judging “what” they are not “who” they are and they are not extending the same courtesy to me.





    Then you listed how other might have perceived you based on first impression, but that eventually went away.

    I find it interesting that no one has commented on the response the president of the club gave me (in writing) when I wrote that I was leaving because I didn’t think there was an appropriate cultural fit. He said, “as we got to know you better we appreciated the person you are more and more“.

    Surely that is a clue that their impressions of my are superficial and judgemental. Many are happy with those initial judgements and don’t bother to investigate whether they are wrong,

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 7 months ago by Ashley.
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