Here in Canada, we are known for our overly polite vibe. “Sorry” is part of our national anthem, for God’s sake (I’m not joking – check the third verse). We could probably benefit from choosing when and where to give our apologies a little more carefully.
On the American side, we see a lot of assertiveness and a borderline aggressive tendency to need to be right. In that respect, they miss the mark when deciding when they should voice their opinion. However, since Obama was elected, the US has really risen to Canada’s politeness challenge. He apologizes when it’s appropriate and stands his ground when it’s the correct path, which is more in the direction we all should be heading.
What am I getting at? I think it’s time we found our assertive presence in social situations. Apologize when it’s called for and give our opinions with tact so people will actually listen.
Too Polite = Low Status
People who constantly apologize to others are some of the lowest status people you will find. When you convey a sense that everything you are doing is wrong or that you are somehow always in other people’s way, you’re revealing your internal view of yourself. Have you ever been in a restaurant and your waitress said “sorry” every time she refilled your water glass? Why would I be angry that you’re giving me more free water?
Always Right = Low Status
Like many of these behaviors, a person who never apologizes for anything also displays low-status intentions. This is because they’re afraid of being wrong or looking low-status in the eyes of others. They place a lot of value on being correct and tie their internal self-belief to always being right.
The instinctive reactions many people have in these situations can be categorized as either fight or flight. They might attempt to change the subject or simply walk away when they sense that their status is being lowered significantly in the eyes of others. Some people will lash out immediately and attempt to control the situation to reassert their status. Both of these actions are indicators of low-status internal beliefs. A person who doesn’t apologize or can’t acknowledge fault is a person who has too tender a view of themselves so they are not open to critique or opinion.
Too Agreeable/Never Agreeable = Low Status
Another pattern of behavior occurs in large public gatherings where people are confined in a specific space for a set period of time. Some people will be overly agreeable and some will never agree with anything anyone else says. Everybody knows someone who always agrees with everything and whose opinions are seemingly shaped by the people dictating the conversation. Maybe this person is you… yikes. People who always go with the flow are people who are afraid to be challenged and are simply content to be a herd member. This pattern of behavior immediately infers low internal status. Conversely, many people simply adopt a cynical position where they attempt to never agree with people by taking a contrarian viewpoint every time. While some might think this is a short-cut to higher status, it actually makes you look stubborn and narrow-minded.
Know When to Hold ‘Em, and When to Fold ‘Em
A person of high status is always clear with their opinions and intentions and welcomes feedback from others because they are confident in their opinions and assertions.
You might find it difficult to progress from low-status to high-status behaviors like these because you’ve convinced yourself you’re not capable. You might insist that you have no experience acting completely freely with high-status intentions. The reality is, everyone has had experience conducting themselves in that manner at some point in their lives. The key is to become clear in your opinions, make choices and stand by them. If you overstep someone’s boundaries, just be ready to apologize if needed.
Devon OB Ash
It was an awesome workshop that is full of good information, fun interactions and hands on practices.
Believe or not, small details that you hardly pat any attention to actually are able to change your life.