Friday, 18 June 2010

Defining yourself and other people

During a recent lunch time discussion with a work colleague (you know who you are) we got onto the subject of how some people seem to have an expectation of entitlement due to their hierarchical position at work. The higher up the work ladder you go, the more prevalent such a personality trait becomes. It was noted that in general (not just work related) there are people who expect (some might even say demand) those around them to obey their every request, very often irrespective of the hardship faced by the other person to do so.

My own reasoning on the matter was that these people define themselves by their job title. Because they may be higher up the work ladder than someone else, they therefore make the mistake that they are in some way superior to that person. They have turned into their job role, and cannot disassociate themselves from it. The more power and influence the role is bestowed with , the greater the frequency that you will see this behaviour.

There is nothing wrong in the least with being passionate about your work, doing the best you can and being industrious. These are obviously worthwhile traits and should be admired. However, a very clear line should be drawn between you and your job.

I am lucky to have a job that I am passionate about. I work developing software applications and building web sites. As part of that, I spend a lot of my time researching and investigating new and emerging technologies in an effort to keep on top of my game, and to keep my knowledge and skills up-to-date. So my job does not necessarily stop when I go home. I will often read technology related blogs, articles and magazines. Yet despite all this, my job does not define me as a person. I love what I do, and will talk at length about it with passion, but to say that it defines me would be completely wrong.

So if I don’t define myself by my job, then how do I define myself? Or more importantly, how do I define other people. I personally prefer to define someone by their personality traits. Are they kind, generous, caring, helpful, positive? For me, this is a far better way to define a person, because it tells you what they are really about. A job doesn’t do that. Many people may have jobs they dislike, or have worked their way up the career ladder through methods other than merit (if you know what I mean).

The things that define people (including myself) in my opinion are:

· their personal qualities (kindness, caring, empathy, intelligence, positivity)
· their friends (I believe you can tell a lot about someone by the friends they keep)
· their hobbies / interests (the things they enjoy doing for sheer pleasure)

Using the criteria here should give you a much better idea of what a person is about, than merely their job, even if they do define themselves by it.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. An interesting article and you make some good points but it's not that simple.

    If a person is kind to you but not to someone they don't like, that adds shades of gray. Would you then call that person kind? What if you disliked the person also?

    I guess another interesting question would be, do you define yourself? I certainly don't. I don't define others either. I don't think my relationships with people, I sense them and have a feel for what that person is.

  3. The article is not about me, but about the person and their personal qualities. Treating one person in one particular way, and then treating someone else in a lesser way, is obviously not something I would approve of.

    Kindness should be extended to everyone!

    You say you go on feelings, which is probably what we all in fact do. And those feelings help us define the person. Having a feel for what someone is about, and then using those feelings, helps us define someone. If I asked you to define someone, would you not in fact be referring to your feelings?