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Business, Diversity & Inclusion, Leaders, STEM

Leaders: Looking Thru The Lens of Arrogant Entitlement

WhatUSay&DoAs I continue my journey in the blogosphere and attempt to better identify topics that resonate with readers of this blog, I continue to find opportunities to expand on my most popular post: BAITERs, Haters, and Social Climbers. The inspiration for this post came from Dr. Phil McGraw, author and television talk show host, who was making the rounds with the media promoting his book, Life Codes [Ref 1] about two years ago.

Before we get into the topic for today’s post, arrogant entitlement, I need to confess something to you. When I wrote BAITERs, Haters, and Social Climbers, I had only read the first half of Life Codes. I am happy to report that I finished reading the entire book about a month ago. As a result, there is more knowledge and wisdom for me to share with you on this topic.

My first encounter with toxic people didn’t begin in adulthood. It probably started in early childhood with a playground bully. It may have been crossing paths with a very unfriendly relative. Like many folks, I initially believed that most bullies grow up and grow out of their boorish behavior. The truth of the matter is some do, and some don’t. As a business owner, seasoned project manager and STEM professional, I have met my share of bullies – enough to last a lifetime. Some appear to have propelled themselves off of the playground and into the workplace.

Initially, I struggled to deal with these individuals. Not only did I not like them, I did not want to associate with them. However, it became clear to me that I had to work with them and it didn’t matter if I liked them or not. Therefore, it was important that I recognize and better understand their behavior to minimize problems and conflicts for me and others.

Can'tfriendthosewhowantyourlifeAnd silly me…for a while I thought this problem was limited to the location or company that I worked at. On broadening my view of bullies and other toxic people, I thought it was a problem that was rampant in engineering, construction, and other technical environments. After all, this is where I worked the first 10 years of my career and it was what I knew. Many, many conversations later and an effort on my part to better understand these people and their behavior, I was able to acknowledge that BAITERs are everywhere and not just limited to a particular profession or work environment.

They are in news rooms, government institutions, academic institutions, hospitals, theater companies, professional organizations, retail industry, corporations, law firms, etc. After expanding my discussions to those in non-technical jobs or careers, I all too often heard them say: That sounds like a person in my department or company. If you think you can avoid them by changing jobs, departments or companies, rethink that thought!

Arrogant Entitlement: In Life Codes, the Evil Eight are descriptors or identifiers for BAITERs, aka toxic people. The first of the Evil Eight is arrogant entitlement. In fact, the actual sub-title is #1: They see the world through a lens of arrogant entitlement and frequently treat people as targets. Zeroing in on the second part of the previous sentence, treating someone as anything other than a person implies that these BAITERs don’t view you or I as a member of the human race. And if they actually allowed us to be a part of the human race, we are lowly persons in their world.

“BAITERs don’t live in the same world you do. Their world is defined solely by their own needs and desires. Other people, and other people’s needs and desires, just aren’t real to them.” [Ref 1] How could they be? If they acknowledged you as a human being, most would at least think twice before engaging in their destructive and obnoxious behavior.

These people have a sense of entitlement about everything, no matter what it is or who possesses it. Their attitude is, “This is mine; you just have it currently.” They think, “I’d like that,” and their mental tumbler churns, “how can I get it?” One of the classic statements from Dr. Phil’s book is this one: If the BAITER wants your job, house, your husband or your life, you’d better hunker down, because you have a fight on your hands.

The likelihood of you or me having problems with these individuals is also tied to the organization’s culture where the BAITER hangs out. This could be the work place, but it could also be the gym, or a non-profit organization. Management’s lack of professionalism, looking the other way, and allowing employees, members or patrons to engage in mayhem is just one sign that BAITERs are present. You may recognize this individual(s) as the office bully with a false sense of entitlement. He or she believes that they are whoever they think they are, and you and I should give them whatever it is that they want. That’s it! And with no questions asked.

Presumptive Arrogance: Coincidentally, I watched Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) on cable just a few days ago. The movie begins with the explosion of the Klingon moon, Praxis. The explosion destroys the Klingons’ ozone layer and creates a major reduction in their energy production facilities. This changes things drastically for the warring tribe that is better known as the Klingon Empire. The Klingons request a peace meeting with their longstanding enemy, the United Federation of Planets.

Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) not only volunteers for this dangerous but very important mission and meeting, but also signs up Captain Kirk (William Shatner). When Mr. Spock informs the Captain that he has been included in this meeting with the Klingon Chancellor, he not only objects but almost blows a fuse. Capt. Kirk calls Mr. Spock on his actions: I can’t believe that you would sign me up for a mission like this without my permission. That is presumptive arrogance on your part.

YourbiggesthatersareYou may have figured out by now that I am a bit of a Trekkie. I captured this part of the movie in this post to say that I have seen many good friendships ruined by presumptive arrogance of one party towards the other. Good friends respect personal and professional boundaries. If you and I are friends, my expectation of this friendship is that you don’t lie to me, steal from me, or disrespect me. You also do not make very important decisions for me that I have not given you authority or permission to make. Needless to say, I have had some former friends do all three. Also needless to say, my list of friends is much shorter than it used to be.

If you are in need of survival skills to deal with toxic people, Life Codes is a must read for you.

1. Life Codes: The New Rules for Winning in the Real World, Dr. Phil McGraw, Bird Street Books, 2012, 242 pp.

First time landing here? If this is your first time reading a post on this blog, A Bridge for Business & STEM, thanks for stopping by! If you liked what you read, will you follow me here? I write frequently on topics related to business and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and attempt to show the relevancy and relationships between these two topics as often as I can.

Here are some other posts that I have written:
Earning the Right to Call the Shots
Managing Conversations, People and Subterfuge, Part 1
Beer Brewing and Delivery Meets Big Data


About Vi Brown

Vi is principal and CEO of Prophecy Consulting Group, LLC, an Arizona firm that provides business and engineering services to private and public clients. Prior to establishing her consulting practice in 2001, Vi worked with Motorola, Maricopa County Government, Pacific Gas & Electric, CH2M Hill, and Procter & Gamble. As an adjunct faculty member, Vi teaches undergraduate calculus classes and graduate level environmental courses. She is also a professional speaker.


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