About a month or so ago, my son and I went out for a boy’s night out date to BJ’s Pizza. For some reason, our kids think it’s cool to go out with one parent, individually. They both begged us to go to the same place. So there we went… driving separate cars to the exact same place for dinner. Pretty lame to drive two cars and waste gas if you ask me. but that’s what they wanted to do. Then we were supposed to ignore ‘Mom and sister’ if we saw them in the restaurant. It was kind of a crack up. So my son and I went outside and got a table and watched a baseball game while we waited for our food.
My son is oblivious to most things–of course he is, he’s only 6. I, on the other hand, had the good fortune of my chair being backed up against some guy that was on a date with a girl. Since my son wasn’t talking to me much — he was coloring the menu — I was forced to tune into the conversation that was going on right behind me. It might have been the most interesting conversation I’ve ever heard… I’ll tell you about it later.
I believe that there are three types of people that almost everyone hates to be around, and for these reasons, these type of people seldom find success in their life. The people that fall into one or all of these categories spend a lifetime trying to figure out why nobody likes them. They demand that someone love them, pay attention to them, acknowledge them, or respect them. Then, when they come up empty handed, they are full of reasons why it is everyone else’s fault. Figuring out how to not fall into one or more of these categories is what I consider to be one of the largest predictors of success in this life. Here are those types of people with some tips on how to avoid becoming them:
1. People That Constantly Talk About Themselves
We’ve all experienced this before. You have a meeting with someone and you end up sitting there the whole time listening to the other person’s life story and to all of the reasons why this person is so awesome. Then they move on to their kids, and their grand kids, and the great grand kids they are yet to have. If you’re really lucky, you’ll even get to hear about how much money they make, their leadership callings, and about their recently fabricated golf score! When you get to the end of the meeting, your friend thinks the meeting went great and that you’re on your way to the bathroom to check if your ears are bleeding.
Most of us have probably been guilty of this a time or two, whether we’d like to admit it or not. It’s human nature for us to desire the honor and respect of others; and sometimes we see no other way to get that honor and respect but by forcing it into other people. We figure that no one will ever know how cool we are unless we tell them. You’d assume the people doing this most often are confident and even possibly conceded but, in reality, they are probably really insecure. In fact, the most insecure people are the ones that are the most guilty of this disgusting attribute.
Here is the truth: when you tell people how great you are, those people are listening to you and you may think they are interested, but internally they are begging for the torture to stop. It doesn’t do anything to improve their view of you. In fact, it might have the opposite effect. A long time ago someone asked Joseph Smith if the principle of self-aggrandizement is wrong and should we try to make ourselves look good to others. Listen to his answer: “It is a correct principle and may be indulged upon only one rule or plan… and that is to elevate, benefit, and bless others first. If you will elevate others, the very work itself will exalt you. Upon no other plan can a person justly and permanently aggrandize himself.”
Get interested in others and forget yourself, and you won’t need to tell people how cool you are. They’ll find out on their own…
2. People That Constantly Complain About Their Circumstances
These people always have something wrong with them. It’s their back or their leg or their feelings or anything really. It will be something new every time you see them. There is no end to their excuses and they are sure to tell you every single one of them on any and every given day you come in contact with them. David Swartz, author of “The Magic of Thinking Big” summed it up this way. “Go deep into your study of people, and you’ll discover unsuccessful people suffer from a mind deadening thought disease. We call this disease excusitis.” Complaining about a thing never made that thing better. The time that people take complaining could actually be used toward adding value to someone or something and thereby improving their own situation.
I’m not suggesting we discredit people’s physical, mental, and emotional maladies. Rather, we should help them understand that each of us suffer from one issue or another. It’s our perspective on life that dictates whether we are happy or miserable. We can derive happiness from no other source but from within. “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, and a hell of heaven.” (Milton) Napoleon Bonaparte had everything that worldly men would naturally crave. It was nothing to him. “I have known six happy days in my life” said Napoleon at Saint Helena. But then consider Helen Keller who was blind deaf and dumb. She went around saying, “I have found life so beautiful”. I have seen people in circumstances that would make even the strongest person shrink from fear… and yet those people are happier than they that seem trouble-free and taken care of.
If you know someone that complains about everything, you can remind them that it’s always better to “go and do instead of sit and stew.”
3. People That Constantly Bad-Mouth Others
If you’re hanging out with someone that is bad-mouthing others behind their backs, you can bet that they are bad-mouthing you behind your back. Don’t be naive enough to think you’re the exception; and make sure that you do not get sucked into their trap. Remember that misery loves company and people that constantly bad-mouth others are always on the hunt for someone they can “bounce their ideas off of.” Maybe next time you hear someone doing this, or know of someone who has this weakness, you could remind them that “the devil flatters us that we are very righteous while we are feeding on the faults of others.”
Most people love to dwell on others weaknesses in order to try and make themselves look better, smarter, prettier, or richer than the person they are talking about. They do this out of covetousness or envy or because they are just downright mean. It does nothing and helps no one. It destroys and defames. It’s almost as these types of people are just sitting around waiting for people around them to fail so that they can pounce on them. Even if the person doesn’t fail, they will still find something bad to say about the person. And yet, who is the real loser when it is all said and done? I once heard that “the only disability in life is a bad attitude” and I’m starting to honestly believe that its true.
I told you that I’d finish my story about the guy that was sitting behind me and my son at BJ’s, so here it is… My son is busy eating his spaghetti and I am almost dying of laughter as I was able to hear almost every thing this guy was saying behind me. He perfectly embodied each of the three characteristics I listed above. The woman he was with just sat there silent as he went off for almost 30 minutes straight about how dumb his co-workers were and how smart he was and how under-valued he was at his job and how valuable he really is. And interwoven throughout all of his arguments was the fact that he was superior to almost anyone he came in contact with in business and in life. I almost wanted to turn around and get his autograph, but I restrained myself.
I can’t explain to my son right now what all of this means and why it was so funny for me to hear, but maybe he’ll read this at a later age and become the exact opposite of the guy at BJ’s that night. I have a sneaky feeling, based on what I was hearing him say, that success has always escaped him… and I have to wonder if he’ll ever figure it out.
The sad thing is this. Even if he read this article, he’ll probably not think that any of what was written here applies to him and he’ll go away doing the same thing over and over again, expecting people to love him, respect him, and give him that promotion at work. It just doesn’t work that way in life and you can see it time and time again. Forget yourself, never complain, and speak good of others and you’ll see a miracle take place in your life.