Social Question

Jellie's avatar

Are these people shallow or am I stupid?

Asked by Jellie (6469 points ) September 29th, 2011

Okay so this is not a rant but an actual question. It’s long but please do read.

I like to think I’m pretty modest. I don’t think its a choice I’ve made, I’ve just never felt the need to boast about anything. I always think that your qualities and skills are noticed by people whether you highlight them or not. I also hope that my modesty is a sign of my security in that I feel content with the kind of person I am.

I have noticed more and more at my workplace though that most people only want to talk about how great they are and will often even exaggerate stories. One of my colleagues was sitting in the office right now for an hour and a half and all he did literally was talk about how he fixed stuff, how he initimidated a person, how some people fell at his feet… etc. Not a problem, only very irritating.

The problem then is, I feel like I see right through him. And that I see his boasting as a way of feeding his ego and trying to impress other people. I feel he is insecure and trying to convince others of his lack of abilities some how. Howeverrrrr a lot of people in my office are in fact very impressed with him and talk about how informed and well connected and awesome he is.

Am I stupid to perceive him in this way? Are other people correct in their observation of him? Must we always brag about ourselves to get noticed? Is there no place for a person like my in this world that wants to be amazing (which I am) without wanting to wear it on my sleeve?

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18 Answers

Bellatrix's avatar

No you aren’t stupid. I see the same sort of behaviour in some of my colleagues and I can promise you, I am not alone in recognising those traits in others. I doubt your colleagues are blind to it and if the bragging is just that and doesn’t have substance, those who are impressed will eventually find out the truth too. Focus on your work and try not to let the egos of others affect you.

King_Pariah's avatar

No you’re not. Unfortunately, the unthinking majority has truly become the unthinking majority, unable to tell bs from truth and are willing to accept bs as truth and truth as bs

augustlan's avatar

You’re not stupid, but your co-workers may be. Really, they are probably just inexperienced with that kind of person or naive. I’m picturing you hearing “yadda, yadda, yadda” when this guy talks. :)

ucme's avatar

Neither descriptive seems accurate. They are simply naive, he is clearly a dick & you, well….are observing the monkeys, like in a zoo.

ratboy's avatar

The alternatives are not mutually exclusive. The behavior described is nearly universal in the West; the following is from the Wikipedia article Self-enhancement:

Self-enhancement does not just occur at random. Its incidence is often highly systematic and can occur in any number of ways in order to achieve its goal of inflating perceptions of the self. Importantly, we are typically unaware that we are self-enhancing. Awareness of self-enhancing processes would highlight the facade we are trying to create, revealing that the self we perceive is in fact an enhanced version of our actual self.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Is it possible they are just playing along because this braggart is in a position of power, and it’s politically expedient for your coworkers to play along?

Hibernate's avatar

You might not be shallow but your other colleagues can only “perform” that type of being impressed just so they don’t have to do anything else ^^

filmfann's avatar

It’s all about where you find your pride. You are proud of being modest, even though 10 of your 18 sentences in your OP begin with “I”. It’s no big deal. This guys focus is on how good he is at fixing stuff.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

No, you’re not stupid. I know people like this and it’s quite irritating. It just makes you want to stop them, mid-sentence, and ask, “Do you ever brag on other people, or do you see only your own accomplishments?”

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Jellie The strongest, smartest people I’ve known have never needed to point out their own accomplishments. They let their deeds do it for them. It’s the small minded people that go out of their way to make themselves seem important. And yeah, only other small minded people don’t see through the bullcrap.

Nullo's avatar

He might not know how to work a conversation, and so falls back on the subject that he’s most familiar with.

Jellie's avatar

@filmfann yes the question is about my experience and feelings (as are a lot of questions here). It was bound to have the word “I.” How does that suggests I’m NOT modest. I would not have called you out on it but it seems like an attack out of no where and it was hurtful.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

I have never had issue with being “Percieved” any way anyone wants to percieve me… Because I realized a long time ago how it is all garbage, how we are all essentially the same and the louder people boast about themselves just because… the more insecure they are.

I know it, you know it, sometimes we all do it… the kinds of people who actually annoy me are those who that in making these distinctions always do it on behalf of EVERYONE else and fail to include themselves in these very human instances of self and personality.

I would be a liar and a hypocrite to stand here *Or sit as the case may be… and attempt to make anyone believe in either my overall greatness, my overall failure or my superiority to anyone else in every conceivable manner. No matter how good you believe you are at anything, there will ALWAYS be someone better, some people take the fact that we should always strive to be the best, as a reason and excuse to abuse and belittle others pretty much because they are just that insecure within themselves.

I usually as a rule, listen politely to others, especially when they believe they are comfortable to ramble a little and in that, whatever it is they boast about, as opposed to the big difference in mere explination of self… but what they specifically boast about as in bravado.. and as they yammer on and on, in my head… I am saying to myself

“This person is… the exact linear opposite of whatever it is they are saying.

I do not need want or require the opinions of others in order to shape or define what I know to be the truth about who I am and what I can and cannot do.

When left alone to a natural process of learning and a will and want to improve, less the bullshit this type of person you are speking of here seems to project… Most people even if they are exaggerating, are usually able to rise to their own occasion as a process and actually BECOME what it is they see themselves as.

That is the problem with insecure idiots who enjoy putting others down to “Make friends and influence others.” There is always a slew of victims laying behind them wondering what in the hell it was that just hit them.

wundayatta's avatar

It’s salesmanship. You must, these days, always talk up your accomplishments because otherwise, people (bosses) will have no idea. They don’t remember. The people who are their own best advocates, sickeningly enough, are the ones who get ahead the fastest, on average.

Some of us just can’t do this. As you say, we are modest, and it is sickening. If my boss can’t see the work I’ve done, then the world is sick. Well, the world is sick. In offices, if you don’t claim your work over and over, someone else will claim they did it.

I’m sorry, but you have to do this yourself, in self-defense, or spend your life with other people taking credit for what you did. You may even get fired for being unproductive if you boss doesn’t see what you’ve done. You have to talk yourself up. You just have to, no matter how despicable it is. It is the sad state of affairs that we have come to in the American workplace.

Just a quick thought—we see this model on TV almost exclusively. There are no more wallflowers who are recognized for what they do. Only the confidence loudmouths who tell a good story, whether it is true or not. They are the ones who get ahead on TV. Also in movies. We all love a confident dude. That’s the American attitude. Pull that mask over your face, or be content with the leavings of others.

Bellatrix's avatar

There are ways of doing it though @Wundy (promoting your achievements). I agree you shouldn’t “hide your light under a bushel” but that is different from constantly going on and on about what you do and how well you do it to your colleagues.

I have a colleague who never fails to interject into a conversation about the latest council he has become a member of or the latest award he has won or paper he has published or something. Other colleagues are just as accomplished, make sure their boss knows about their achievements, but don’t beat the rest of us over the head with their accomplishments. I like this first person, but inwardly groan every time he starts talking about what he is up to. He even sends blanket emails to people on the pretext of informing us about something or other but that also just happen to highlight something about him.

It is all about balance I think.

Jellie's avatar

@wundayatta you’ve actually hit the nail on the head with your observation. My concern is, in this day and age have we as people reached a point where, you have to market yourself to get your due appreciation and credit? I mean I don’t want people to come up to me and tell me I’m the best but it would be comforting to know that my bosses think I’m working hard and achievnig my targets without me having to rub it in all the time. If this is the case then I’m in a very awkward situation :P

wundayatta's avatar

@Jellie I don’t think the world is made for people who have difficulty tooting their own horns any more. To me, it’s disgusting when people do it, and I automatically give them fewer points rather than more for bragging. I don’t trust people who do that as a matter of course.

However, it does seem that if you don’t tell your boss what you’ve been doing, they won’t know. They don’t keep track or they keep track of different things than you think are important. In any case, I do think the prevailing culture these days requires you constantly market yourself. It can’t stop at the interview. You can never stop. Of course, it may be different where you work.

Bellatrix's avatar

I actually have to fill in forms saying “I will do this over the next 12 months” across a range of areas and then provide evidence to show I did do what I set out to do or to what level I achieved my goals. The goals are negotiated with my boss in the previous year. I work in the public sector so I am not sure how common this is in the private realm.

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