Have you ever noticed that when someone starts a sentence with the words;
With all due respect...
they are amost probably about to give you a verbal kick in the guts?
Last week I hired a freelance designer to help me out with some part of my business. I'm keeping the details hidden because my intention is not to insult him but to share my ideas about 'BELITTLING PEOPLE'.
When he sent me the final version of my product, I liked it but made some suggestions to change a few things.
As you might expect, pat came the "with all due respect" punch in the virtual face!
He said "if you'd know anything, the first thing about design..." and went on to justify his work. Half a page email peppered with respectful condescention and insult.
I understood his rationale and respect his design decision but it could have been better without the condescention.
Another incident happened just a week ago when a new-money, famous-ish YouTube guy shared a video about a software product review. Since I was subscribed to his channel, I respected his advice and saw him as an expert obviously.
When I finished watching the video, I asked him if he creates his videos and courses (tech stuff) or his staff does because Im a non-techie person and when I do digital marketing or website work, email lists, etc, it does take me a lot of time to first learn how to do it well and then implement the knowledge.
He got pissed off at my question because unknowingly, it called out his BLUFF about the product he was reviewing.
He obviously couldn't lie that his staff does the technical stuff for him while in the video he was proclaiming to be doing all of that by himself (as it was a software product review of which he was an affiliate).
Long story short, he responded "stop telling people the bullshit story about being non technical" ...bla bla and saying this will hurt my business.
Personally, I don't think that when a learner shares her/his weakness with a mentor, they do it for fun. They obviously seek advice, hence they even look up to a mentor.
And as far as the customer hurting part goes, I think that people today are totally aware that no entrepreneur or athlete or chef or any expert in the world is a 'KNOW-IT-ALL'.
We can be experts in 1-2 or 3 things but we cannot be a rockstar in every part of the business. Besides, customers love authentic entrepreneurs that own their vulnerabilities and weaknesses.
Coming back to the initial question, when is it OK to condescend or belittle someone that asks you for advice... the answer is
NEVER unless you're a douche bag!
If you're a manager or a team leader, you may be responsible for providing on-the-job training to new team members.
I've personally known so many cases where the manager in question, the one responsible to provide such training, not only insulted the learner constantly but also harassed and ignored.
Knowing something or being an expert is awesome! It often comes along with power and prestige.
Most morons can handle knowldge but not POWER.
It goes straight to their heads and makes them belittle those who come to them for advice.
Great leaders never find pleasure in belittling others.
If there's one such person in your team, you've no idea how much human potential and productivity is being killed by his/her hands...
In my upcoming book, Win Some Learn Some, I discuss this in depth and suggest actionable steps to make sure this isn't happening in your team.
What do you think about this... ever been on either side of the table? Share your thoughts in the comments...
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