Wednesday, February 24, 2010

10 Things I Really Like About You

After publishing my previous post, using the unapologetic and somewhat tongue-in-cheek idea of calling out behavioral pet peeves started by Mother Shaffer, one of my readers told me the post scared her. This wasn’t my intent, so I decided to reframe the main points in a more positive way.

10 Things I Really Like About You
  1. You have integrity. I know your values because they’re apparent in all you do. You live your values even when it is uncomfortable for you or means that you must change. You are slow to criticize and quick to support. You appreciate that people are complex, so you consider me in light of my overall character rather than out-of-context shortcomings. You base your evaluations on sensible and visible standards, not subjective preference. I can trust you because you are genuine.
  2. You are inclusive. You recognize that I am very different than you are, and what goes on in my head and my life is unique to me. You view these differences as prompts to expand your own perspective. You seek to understand and engage. You know that what we can build together is stronger than what we can do alone.
  3. You truly appreciate me. You never underestimate the value of what I do and evaluate me fairly based on our mutually understood requirements. Even though we may be at very different levels, you recognize that we are all connected and that my contribution to the overall outcome may be every bit as important—maybe more important—than yours, at times. You are quite comfortable giving me due credit—even all the credit, if warranted—because you know it’s a positive reflection on you to enlist and recognize resources that get the job done. You believe that sharing credit doesn’t diminish it, it expands it.
  4. You are confident. You don’t need my acceptance to know and be happy with who you are. You expect my intentions to be good so you don’t seek reasons to take offense or read anything extra into what I say or do. You seek to earn my respect, but are A-OK with not being the center of my universe.
  5. You have a clue. You understand that rewards should be earned. You expect no gifts and demand no sympathy. You do not shirk hard work or responsibility. You know that life isn’t fair. You work to create a better future, but operate within the current reality.
  6. You cooperate. You are energized by achievement and collaboration. Competing only diverts your energy from pursuing your goals, so you don't engage in it. You’re happy when others honestly and deservedly succeed because it raises the bar of excellence and inspires you.
  7. Your memory is good. You remember your promises, values, and what you’ve said to me even when the pressure's on. You remember that every decision has ripple effects that may affect others, so you make decisions based on data and reason rather than favors and convenience. You remember who embraces values and policies to contribute in positive ways when determining rewards. You remember that I will never forget.
  8. You consider other points of view. You are open to alternatives that are well-reasoned and have quantified evidence. You consider no idea of your own to be infallible or the sole possibility. You encourage others to test their wings and support them throughout.
  9. You assume the best. You don’t jump to conclusions. You always give people the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. You say and do only things that enhance relationships. You don’t attack, you positively engage.
  10. You can write. When writing—when you can see the words and take the time to correct them —you always pay attention. You may not catch every misplaced comma or dangling participle, but you certainly commit no war crimes against language. You may even follow Grammar Girl.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

10 Things That Bug Me About You

I am being completely unoriginal, but after reading 10 Things I Strongly Dislike About You by Kat, who was inspired by Mother Shaffer’s 10 Things I Hate About You, I just had to make my own list.

I should note that I personally have violated various points on this list at some time, because one thing that doesn’t bug me about you is that you are not perfect…nor am I. Let’s just try to do better, okay?

10 Things That Bug Me About You
  1. You are a hypocrite. Don’t tell me you put people first if you overlook all kinds of injustice that you are in a position to stop because it might be uncomfortable or that you might have to change. Or criticize me for destroying the environment for our children by not embracing organic gardening while you’re smoking and drinking in your first trimester. Or look down on me for being overweight when you are the one who is frighteningly food-obsessed. Face up to who you are, blemishes and all. I’ll like you better.
  2. You are a bigot. Don’t penalize or look down on me or anyone else because we don’t fit your ideal image—you know, the one that looks, thinks, and acts just like you. You have no idea what goes on in my head or life, and you can’t judge it against the standards you set in yours.
  3. You are a thief. Don’t steal my work and ideas, present them as your own, reap the rewards, and give me no credit. If I’m willing to share the credit with you even if your contribution was—ahem—minor, then why won’t you? Sharing the credit doesn’t diminish it, it expands it. Take my “share the credit” deal; it’s a generous one—more than a thief like you deserves.
  4. You are a victim. You’ve got a right to gripe when bad stuff happens. It’s only human. But don’t take everything I say or do—or anyone else says or does—and often things we haven’t said or done—or even considered saying or doing—as a personal affront all of the time. Frankly, I am way too stretched to expend extra effort inventing clever and covert ways to hurt you. I don’t give that much thought to anything about you because I’m just not that generous. Seriously, you are not the center of my universe. Get over it.
  5. You are deluded. I’m not talking about the kind of blind optimism that helps you through a tough situation. I’m talking about thinking that having a freshly-minted degree and no experience should rocket you directly into an executive position. Or believing that doing one small task that a big cheese compliments makes up for the rest of time that you did nothing and dragged down the team. Or saying that you’ve earned your place/success/reward when your parents/spouse/family bought your way into all you have. But, your private delusions aren’t what actually bug me. What bugs me is that you repeat your delusional mantra to me in your never-ending bid for sympathy over the world’s alleged cruelty to you. Riiiiight. Poor you.
  6. You insist on competing. Not to be arrogant, but my true strengths are pretty serious strengths, so competing with me in those areas is probably pointless. If you insist on competing with me, go right ahead, but you’ll be operating alone. If you try to bait me by persistently throwing it in my face, you will only annoy me, like an irritating fly. And beating me won’t work either. If you beat me fairly, I’ll simply give you due credit. I don’t feel diminished when someone else honestly and deservedly succeeds—I’m happy for them. (However, I get angry when an incompetent who personifies this list is unjustly rewarded. Even so, it takes me a while to get there…I always first assume that the incompetent must have overriding superior qualities of which I am unaware, until they undeniably prove me wrong.) The only person with whom I ever compete is me. I think competition is counterproductive. Isn’t it better to work together?
  7. You have selective memory. You don’t remember that you privately told me one thing and then took a completely opposite stance publicly? You swear that you only consider facts when making decisions when I’ve seen you repeatedly discard them for the sake of convenience or to advance you own agenda? You think no one noticed that you gave your thoroughly mediocre buddy a plummy opportunity even though someone else had earned it? You can’t remember that someone made egregious errors in judgment and showed blatant disregard for policy and values while you continue to reward them? You don’t remember committing to my project when someone who can get you ahead wants something? Well, maybe you don’t remember. But, then, I can’t remember to respect you.
  8. You are closed to other points of view. Confidence is great. I can even accept arrogance if you have considerable talents to back it up. What I won’t accept are people who discard piles of quantified evidence and well-reasoned concepts—and rip apart anyone who had the guts to present them—in favor of their own (they think) infallible idea. You know who I mean—insufferable know-it-alls and little-people-with-big-egos who aren’t content until they’ve destroyed countless worthy efforts and people through sheer pigheadedness. I might be wrong sometimes. Everyone around you might be wrong sometimes. But that doesn’t mean you’re always right or that an idea that’s not yours won’t work just as well. Maybe you should open your ears and mind a bit. Or just get lost because there’s no point in talking with you, anyway.
  9. You fight evil, except inside yourself. My best example: A woman—think, “Church Lady”—stormed up to me in a parking lot and accused me of abusing my (then) 2-year old, who was in the throes of a 20-minute public temper tantrum. My most calming attempts to diffuse his tantrum had failed miserably, and I was struggling to catch each of his limbs with one hand and put them through the straps of his car seat, while holding my other arm across the seat like a roller coaster safety bar to prevent his escape into oncoming traffic (which he’d already done once, after biting my arm and giving me a throbbing, bleeding bruise the size of LA). Church Lady hurled accusations, including that “no child” would behave like that unless I’d “done something” to him, and that my own parents were incompetent. (My son was two. We’ve all heard of the terrible twos, right?) Despite the fact that I’d done nothing to merit attack, her venom made me sob in frustration all the way home. Not long before, a news story about a woman beating a child in a car seat had aired…was Church Lady projecting? My advice: If you seek evil, you’ll find it, but it may be of your own making. Clean up your act before cleaning up mine.
  10. Your writing skills are atrocious. I am far from perfect, and I don’t expect perfection from you. My speech is littered with grammatical errors because it’s hard to correct one’s self in the moment and without visual prompts. But when writing—when you can see the words and take the time to correct them—pay attention. Again, I’m not expecting perfection—my writing is riddled with misplaced commas and modifiers. I even have adopted the web writing style in which “sentences” start with conjunctions and verbs are omitted to emphasize the point. What I’m talking about are war crimes against language. Being able to communicate is essential. Please, get some help. I recommend consulting Grammar Girl.

Why not make a list of your own? It's cathartic.

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