Who Should Get More Respect? Me, You or that Ivy League Grad?

It was interesting that Elena Kagan, during the recent Senate Judiciary Hearings for appointment to the Supreme Court, toned down any hint of superior intellectualism (although she has a bit of a reputation for coming across that way). This Supreme Court nominee’s best strategy seemed to be reflected in her down to earth humor where she quipped about, “…likely needing to get her hair done more often…” if successful in getting elected to the country’s highest court.

 Most of us don’t like “uppity” condescending behavior regardless of how smart people are. We normally know when people are “smarter” and/or have superior credentials (like Kagan). But, the concept of respect is a matter of equality.

My point is that the value of respect, one of the core tenants of the Character Triangle, involves people treating each other with consistent decency regardless of differences, intellectual or otherwise. Let’s face it; some people just are smarter than others. That’s a fact. However we all expect to be treated at an interpersonal level with dignity regardless of I.Q. (You may recall how well the Chairman of BP was received when he referred to many of us Americans as the “little people.”) When I hire someone, I want to go and have dinner with them. How do they treat the wait staff? How do they treat the receptionist? How do they carry on a dinner conversation? Describing themselves in the 3rd person is a bit of a concern too. 🙂  Any hint of superiority or arrogance, regardless of how great the resume is, and I pass. 

Smart people who can get great results are sought after. Choose the same kind of people who get there by stepping on top of others? No thanks!  And by the way it works both ways. Super smart people with all the intellectual credentials shouldn’t have to dumb it down. When it involves how we treat each other, it’s not about smarts …it’s about respect.  We are all “Ivy League” when it comes to working together.

with Character,


  1. Andy Hargrave says:

    I haven’t really been keeping up on the Supreme Court nominees but I did find this bit interesting. I knew a person who was staying in the Light House Mission at the time I was, that believed he should have been treated like royalty due to his knowledge. He knew 4 different languages fluently, could recite most anything you wanted to know, there seemed to be nothing this man didnt know about. BUT, his attitude is what turned most, myself, off. He would always interfere with conversations explaining how something came about or what not, or he would always talk down to someone simply because they didnt know the facts or reasons for something being like it is. IF you contradicted him with something you did know not only from fact or book knowledge but from having experienced. IE time I visited Macho Piccho in Peru, I knew first hand most of what happened there from visiting. Where he only knew from books. Many books do not cover entire facts, just skim. Anyway, I got off on a tangent. So personaly I don’t believe anybody should get more respect than another because of their status. For that matter, any reason at all. I definitely don’t believe the Ivy League Grad deserves more simply because they attended an Ivy League school. Most of us didnt due to finances or some as My case, didn’t because schooling didn’t interest me as much as experiencing first hand. I traveled and learned a lot of other cultures and places while in the Army, far more than I believe the Ivy League grad did. Doesn’t make me better or less. Anyway, this is a tidbit of what I believe. Oh to add one more tidbit. I am a full blooded Native american from Arizona, Apache. You no idea how many people I have come across that think their self better than me due to that fact. I always think it interesting to find out MOST are not even educated or as worldly as I am, but hey, so goes life. – Andy

    • Lorne says:

      Thanks Andy. The way we treat each other is the basis for really learning from each other. Thanks for the reply and sharing your worldly experiences with others.

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