Here is what I believe.
If you’re the type of guy/gal who is super sweet and nice to the CEO (or any executive) of your company, but you also consistently treat the janitors or the front line staff in your company like crap, then there’s no doubt in my mind that you’re a horrible person.
Yeah, I said it.
Sadly, I’m starting to lose count of the amount of people who I encounter at work, and outside of work, who act this way. It’s sickening, it’s destructive, and most of all, it has to stop.
So, why do some people act this way?
From what I’ve seen, it all comes to down to one destructive belief:
The Illusion of Better.
The Illusion of Better
Better is a very dangerous word.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool to have preferences. For example, I believe that the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament is better than any other sporting event in the world, and that white chocolate is better than any other form of chocolate in the world (side note: okay, I know that it’s technically not chocolate…but you’re willing to play along with me, right?)
But we all know that’s not what I’m talking about.
Using the term “better” to describe people (or a group of people) is the problem that I’m talking about here, and it’s too destructive to be ignored for a moment longer.
The people who have been hypnotized by the “Illusion of Better” are pretty easy to spot. I’m certain that you’ve encountered a few of these people at one time or another in your career.
- It’s the person who will offer the utmost respect and kindness to the CEO of his company, but in his next breath, he’ll treat the janitor who cleans his office as if she’s a sub-human piece of trash (or at best, she’ll be treated as if she’s invisible.) He does it because he believes that a well-educated and successful CEO must be better than a “lowly” janitor, and also more worthy of his respect.
- It’s the customer who acts in a condescending manner towards the store employees whenever she’s out shopping. She does it because she believes that since they’re all rocking company uniforms and she’s rocking Prada, that obviously means that she’s better than all of them.
- It’s the supervisor who treats all of her employees like indentured servants and demands that they “obey her at all times.” She does it because she mindlessly believes that her working title makes her better than the employees who have not earned the right to be called a “supervisor.”
Those are just a few examples of the illusion, but here’s the unshakable truth (and it’s one that should not surprise any well-adjusted adult):
No one is ever “better” than another human being.
Better or Never Better
Do you know what’s the funniest (or saddest, depending on how you look at it) thing about people who act like they’re better than other people?
People who have a desperate need to act as if they’re better than other people, only do so because deep down in their most private moments, they know that they’re not better than anyone.
Talk about irony.
In my near-maniacal obsession to create a kinder world, I can’t let these people continue to roam around workplaces (or anywhere else) unchecked.
People who believe that they’re better than other people cause an enormous amount of emotional pain on a daily basis–and usually, that pain is directed at the good folks who these people believe that they’re better than. And as far as I’m concerned, anything that causes a great deal of pain and sadness to a lot of good people is something that needs to be dealt with immediately.
The best way to immediately deal with this issue to simplify it. So, let’s break it down:
Anyone who thinks that they’re “better” than another person is actively making this world a worse place for all of us.
There is no middle ground. As mentioned last week, there are two clear sides to this issue, and each of our actions will put us on one side of the slash or the other.
Better/Never Better. That’s it.
Any person who chooses to smugly look down their nose at another human being for whatever reason falls squarely in the woefully misguided “Better” camp. They are true believers in the Illusion of Better, and the behavior of these people is often condescending, sometimes vicious, and in all cases, destructive.
These people are not making the world a better place.
On the other side are the people in the “Never Better” camp. They fully believe with every fiber in their being that they are never better than anyone else, while simultaneously loving themselves enough to know that no one else is better than them either.
Interestingly, all of the most well-adjusted, kindest, confident (not arrogant), and happiest people I know are all card-carrying members of the Never Better team. These people are making the world a better place by treating all of the people they encounter with kindness, dignity, and respect.
Never Better people are the best coworkers to work with, the best leaders to work for, the best neighbors to live next to, and the best friends that you’ll ever have.
Make no mistake, we need more people to join the “Never Better” team in 2016 and beyond.
If you’re not on the right team already, I hope you’re ready to make the switch today. The world needs you more than ever.
The End of Better
The Illusion of Better has hurt countless people since the beginning of time, and there’s no chance of creating a more positive world to work in and live in as long as it is allowed to exist.
So, let me speak directly to people who are keeping the “Illusion of Better” alive:
- If you think that you’re better than the company janitor because you have a Master’s degree and she has her GED–you’re not better. Stop it.
- If you think that you’re better than the people on “the other side of the tracks” because you live in a bigger house, make more money, drive a nicer car and live in a gated community–you’re not better. Stop it.
- If you think that you’re better than your overweight coworker because you’re in perfect shape munching on dried kale all day, while she is happily treating herself to a burger and fries–you’re not better. Stop it.
- If you think that you’re better than your wife because you’re bringing home a paycheck every two weeks, while she stays at home watching the kids–you’re not better. Stop it.
- If you think that you’re better because you shop at Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue while your friend shops at Target–you’re not better. Stop it.
- If you think that you’re a better parent solely because your kid can speak 3 languages fluently before she enters kindergarten, and your neighbor’s kid has a speech impediment and has trouble completing a sentence–you’re not a better parent. Stop it.
- If you think that you’re better than another person because of your race, sexual orientation, political affiliation, religious choice (or any other meaningless reason floating around in your brain to elevate yourself over someone else)–you’re not better. Stop it.
A few quick words to those sorry, misguided souls: Get over yourself.
Different is not better. You are never better than anyone else.
Most importantly, if you read this entire blog post and you still deeply desire to be better than someone else, I have an idea that will be a win-win for everyone.
Why not choose to be better than the person you were yesterday?
If you did that one thing, and just that one thing, there’s no doubt that you will positively change the world.
And seriously, what could be better than that?
Have you ever dealt with someone who acted like he/she was “better” than you, either at work or anywhere else? Do you agree that the “Illusion of Better” is a destructive force? Either way, jump into the comments below and make your voice heard!