Other Things Friday: Why Bother?

Other Things Friday is our blandly named series for non-how-to content that we publish on Fridays. You probably figured that out from the name.

Today’s OTF post was inspired by us being inspired to write this blog. Here’s the big question: why bother seeming (or, if you are actually impressive, being) impressive?

Someone on my Twitter feed posted an article about negotiation techniques. It’s titled “Negotiation Process: The #1 thing Harvard tells MBAs about getting a big salary” (click bait-y, but whatever) and starts with “They need to like you” boldly positioned beneath a Dilbert comic, which is fun.

“They need to like you.” That’s a good general life philosophy, and one I subscribe to. In fact, the day I read the article, I had just “negotiated” my new salary at my new job and it went really well, I think for that very reason.

There are lots of adjectives that generally describe people who are likeable. Here’s one list: hot, sexy, deep-voiced, well-coiffed hair (not an adjective, whatever), sensuous, handsome, gorgeous, okay this list is getting ridiculous. Here’s the real list that comes to mind first for me: engaging, earnest, humble, interesting, funny, thoughtful, kind. Honestly, impressive doesn’t even crack my list. Maybe that means I’m tough to impress (...ladies), but more likely, it’s that there are a lot of other important things to be besides impressive. I’d like to say that as I value those other things, I also aspire to be them more.

So what’s the deal with seeming impressive? Well, superficially, it’s definitely flattering to hear someone say, “Wow you/that/what you just did are/is/is so impressive!” FYI, Chris hears that a lot more than I do. I also don’t think anyone would argue that it’s a good idea to generally put your best (and most impressive) foot forward to represent yourself. But the real answer? It’s not really a deal. There are a lot of better things to seem.

But, I also think it turns out that my list of adjectives (second list) actually often describes people whom others find impressive. Which brings me back to seeming, instead of being, impressive. The advice you’ll find here is superficial, satirical, and not entirely unhelpful (first list), and it definitely doesn’t preclude things that actually make you impressive. That’s all to say, I hope you know that we know that these things that people do are a farce. Hopefully as you aspire to more, we can also help you aspire to less (or, at least, sillier).

If you were counting, I’ve used parentheses eight times in this post, which is about once for every fifty words. Consider that a benchmark for excessive parentheses usage.