Thursday, April 09, 2009

Pride as a virtue

NY Times has an article about the role of pride.

When All You Have Left Is Your Pride

"I have a new client, a laid-off lawyer, who’s commuting in every day — to his Starbucks,” said Robert C. Chope, a professor of counseling at San Francisco State University and president of the employment division of the American Counseling Association. “He gets dressed up, meets with colleagues, networks; he calls it his Western White House. I have encouraged him to keep his routine.”

The fine art of keeping up appearances may seem shallow and deceitful, the very embodiment of denial. But many psychologists beg to differ.

To the extent that it sustains good habits and reflects personal pride, they say, this kind of play-acting can be an extremely effective social strategy, especially in uncertain times.

The article goes on to explain how pride in yourself can lead to other people getting a better impression of you ("dominant but also likable").

I find the article quite interesting for several reasons.

The first reason is because it relates to myself. When I was younger, I was quite shy, and while I can still be somewhat shy in certain social settings, I doubt that anyone who works with me would consider me shy. The reason for this, is that I have a great deal of pride in my work and my abilities regarding it, and thus don't see any reason to hold back. This has helped me behave less shyly in other settings as well.

A second reason is that explains something about the dynamics around consultants. Successful consultants are not only good at their work, but they are also somewhat arrogant (prideful, if you prefer). This doesn't always go over well, but in most cases I've found that consultants get along pretty well, not only with each other (regardless of their company background), but also with their clients. The study regarding other peoples' perception could explains some of this.
Of course, consultants who show themselves to be less competent than expected, will often find themselves quite disliked. So pride is not enough, in the long run - there must also be some ability to back it up.

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