If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals. — J.K. Rowling
To unmask a person’s true character you need look no farther than the way that person treats those who they perceive to be beneath them in some regard be it rank, position, social status or some other arbitrary determinant.
This was brought home to me years ago when my Dad related to me an incident he was sorry to have witnessed.
My dad was visiting the office of an associate of his, who I’ll call “Rob.” Together with his wife, who I’ll call “Dale,” he owned and operated a small professional firm.
They also owned the building in which their office was located, and according to my Dad, most of the time they were financially strapped.
As a result, on numerous occasions when he would visit the office, my Dad witnessed Dale running herself ragged wearing multiple hats: receptionist, gofer, telephone operator, bookkeeper, and head of “Maintenance” for the building, just to name a few of her roles, and this of course excludes domestic roles she no doubt took on at home.
Under such circumstances you might jump to the conclusion that Rob would be damn grateful to have such a helpmate and partner. If he was, you’d never know it to hear him talk.
On this particular day, Dad was talking with Dale in the front office when an agitated Rob broke into the conversation demanding to know why Dale hadn’t gotten around to some bit of business or other.
An argument between the two ensued, and my Dad became increasingly uneasy, trying in vain to lighten the mood by switching the subject.
And then it happened.
In a snide tone, Rob said to Dale, “Just remember who signs your paycheck!”
In one instant Rob unmasked himself.
Knowing the history of the situation, my Dad was horrified and downright disgusted that 1) Rob felt superior to Dale, and 2) Rob said such a thing in front of a third party.
Worse for my Dad, he never again could look upon Rob with the same fondness and respect he previously felt for Rob. It’s not that my Dad couldn’t understand that we all blurt out things for which we later apologize, my Dad was always extremely tolerant of ‘human frailty’ and generous in forgiving others. However, this was just too unkind, self-absorbed, and self-aggrandizing.
It’s a cautionary tale for those of us who truly mean no disrespect to others but may sometimes choose our words unwisely. A moment’s careful consideration can spare the feelings of others as well as prevent one from accidentally and irrevocably looking like a prejudicial jerk!
As for those who are prejudicial jerks, words they speak can be telling, and can help us unmask in advance the likelihood of our getting from them a fair shake, or having with them any sort of win-win relationship.
Please share your thoughts about what you feel is the number one clue to a person’s character in the Comments section below.
In the meantime,
Bestest to all,