I Think He’s an Idiot

The Real Question: Can You Help The Team Win?

I’ve had the same conversation with 3 different clients in less than a week.

“He’s the head of his department. He’s incompetent. I think he’s an idiot.”

“These guys are making a big ego play. That’s all they know how to do.”

“They can’t do any of this themselves. This is my expertise. But they don’t include me in meetings or invite me to participate in discussions. They’re horrible. I can’t stand them!”

Guess what? IT DOESN’T MATTER.


That’s right. It doesn’t really matter. What does matter is answering this: What do you really want?

Women tend to want to like the people they work with. And they want to think they are liked back.

Men don’t think that way for the most part. Work is a competition and success at work means winning. How does a good sports team increase its chances of winning? By choosing the best players for the team. 

This is the time I explain the difference between being ‘friends’ and being ‘friendly.’

Friendship comes with expectations and some rules. Friends have respect for each other, share intimate information about themselves, secrets. So there has to be trust to do that. And then loyalty that the information will not be shared. Friendship supersedes other loyalties. It keeps power even. All parties are equal in a friendship otherwise it isn’t a circle of friends – it’s something else.   

So women go to work with the expectation of making friends and if they don’t like someone, well, it doesn’t go so well.

Guys like being liked alright, but it isn’t a requirement for working together successfully. The most important criteria – can you help the team win? Men can even fight with each other than agree to disagree and get on with it. So they can be friendly even if they don’t actually like each other.

It’s pretty hard to hide heartfelt disdain for another person. It may not be interpreted accurately, but people can pick up on a snarky attitude easily enough. Further, your judgmental attitude can be dismissed with, “Women are so moody.”  Who wants to be around that?  Especially if it gets in the way of winning. 

It isn’t fair but, a woman still has to be responsible for making the guys feel comfortable with her in the room.

Forget liking them. You might be right. Maybe they can’t do the work. Perhaps they ARE incompetent to some degree. And their ego play really isn’t good for the business. But you aren’t either if you have made yourself so disagreeable, so hard to deal with, so difficult. (I once was charged as ‘difficult” by a boss. He was right.)

It always comes back to the same question: what do you want? What do you really want?

She finally understood. “I have to get over myself.”

Yes, you do. Congratulations.