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.