Is Modesty the Best Policy?

Recently in a reality celebrity show, the celebrity playmate had to help raise money for a charity, and failed to secure the right amount. The host asked her if she had called Hugh Hefner, and to his disbelief she said No. Attacking with “You could secure that amount there and then easily”, she replied – “I wanted to keep the big cannons for later rounds”. But unfortunately for her, there were no such later rounds, as is the nature of reality shows loses.

So, should we fire all our guns on the first round?

Quite often, one has to present himself to others; whether in a date, conference, job interview or party: you are expected to share something about yourself.

Depending on the circumstances, you may have plenty or no time at all. Equally, depending on your confidence, past accomplishments, and general character,  it may be easy or difficult for you, to to fill that time with self praising.

Pushing it slightly, are those two approaches:

  • Type 1 – Those that speak in details about everything they have done, mentioning every trophy, accolade, and award from kindergarden to current times, dropping names as they go by, and essentially bombarding with “look at me and what I have done”.
  • Type 2 – The other side of the spectrum, almost shying away from anything that can be considered vanity, and when cornered to say something on their achievements, they attribute it to their teams and peers, environment, or pure luck.

This seems to suggest that the formers – are the successful people, and the latter ones – failures. Is that so?
Before I try to answer this, let’s move through time forward, and foresee a possible 7th meeting with that same person, way past the initial acquaintance and into some form of more established relationships: friend, colleague, peer or such. The situation now is different, and often calls for different conversation type:

  • Balance – sharing comes from both sides, one has to blend speaking with listening.
  • Steam  – did you stretched and tell everything on your first meetings, forced now to share dust bits as you are running out of steam; or do you still have plenty of gems, you did not fully reveal on the initial instances, perhaps until developing some trust?
  • Trait – perhaps indeed the one with all the stories, can back it up time and time again with more of those, truly being a good story teller and over achiever; and the silent lamb has indeed nothing but “Baaaah Baaaah” (or “Meeeeh Meeeeh”, depending on your culture) beneath his sleeves.

Obviously, a 7th meeting will be a telltale. But having no such luxury, we are back to the first meeting, so here is my simple rules or formula to resolve it, that you can refine to meet your experiences:

  1. Assume all people are type 1 or 2, so there is nothing in the middle.
  2. Assume type 1 “real” achievements are 50% of what they tell you (e.g. divide by 2), where type 2 ones are actually doubled to 200% (e.g. multiply by 2)

That’s all – these are the views you are forecasted to have on that 7th meeting.
The logic behind the first rule, is that often in such first meetings, the tension of the circumstances accentuate natural character traits, so even if you are just slightly leaning towards one side, it will exponentially multiply. So by simply taking this all the way, you get at a  reasonable assumption, plus the triviality of those rules is easy to follow.
The reasoning for the second rule, is that it is still possible for modest people to just have nothing, and vane people to have it all – you just need to modify their own “perceived” value, typically bloated for type 1, and “shrunk” for type 2, to the reality.



Filed under Thoughts

2 responses to “Is Modesty the Best Policy?

  1. I like your concept of balance here. It’s important to be true to yourself, but many either try to boast in all that they know or are shy and want you to discover it.

    In any case, it’s best to take a humble and yet confident approach!

  2. Pingback: Carnival of Modesty for August 20th 2011 : Is This Modest?

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