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Value Creation Blog

Are You A Curmudgeon?

Posted by Josh Patrick

curmudgeon resized 600I have to admit it; the word curmudgeon is one of my favorite words in our language.  I like to say it and I like the way it sounds.  What I don’t like is the dictionary definition of a curmudgeon.

Dictionary.com defines a curmudgeon as a bad-tempered, difficult, cantankerous person.  Sometimes it’s a good thing to have a curmudgeon around.  Sometimes a cantankerous person will say something that needs to be said and no one is willing to do so. 

My definition of a curmudgeon.

I think a curmudgeon is one who tells it like it is.  They tend to be a little crusty in how they communicate.  Often others are put off because they’re not used to having someone be as blunt as many curmudgeons are.

I’m proud to call myself a curmudgeon.  I do tell it like I see it.  I try to do it with not bowling the person I’m speaking with over.  I’ve also found that it’s better for people to know where I’m coming from when I “tell it like it is.” 

Why I think curmudgeon’s have a really important role to play.

We are way too politically correct in society today.  Sometimes it’s important for someone to point out the emperor has no clothes.  That’s the role a curmudgeon plays.

I have a client who hates his general manager.  They worked together for 9 years and they both were having a covert war.  Everyone in the company knew about their problems and no one would say anything.

One of the first things I told my client was that he hated his general manager.  I actually used that language.  At first, my client denied that this was true.  I then went on to say that not only did he hate his general manager, but his general manager didn’t like him and was being very disrespectful.

He had put up with this behavior for 9 years.  It took someone like me to point out the obvious and now my client is taking action to solve this issue.

What a curmudgeon needs to be careful of.

If you’ve identified with what I’ve written so far you need to be careful.  You likely are a very forceful person.  You likely don’t suffer fools easily.  If you let your secret become really obvious, others won’t want to work with you.

You have to pick you spots before you tell the truth as you see it.  You can’t always be pestering other people about what you think they should do.  For me, I usually ask questions before I make a statement.  I often will ask five or ten questions.  After both the person I’m speaking with and myself are clear on the answer I’ll then state the obvious.  It’s the people who state the obvious who are often curmudgeons.  Whether your message is heard or not is the way you deliver it.

How I came to be a curmudgeon.

I was probably always a curmudgeon.  When I was younger I was a brat about it.  I acted like the smartest person in the room all of the time.  I was very difficult to be around.  I hope I’ve learned to smooth out my rough edges.  I certainly have learned that it’s important for me to respect those around me.

So, what does all of this mean?

I think curmudgeons play an important role in the world.  If we don’t take the scary stuff out of the closet and state what we’re really seeing we put our businesses at risk.  You need someone around you who’s willing to say it like it is.  If your culture can’t handle it, this person needs to be an outside advisor.  If your culture can handle it, then your number two is likely to be that person.  In both cases, there is someone who is testing your ideas and your company’s ideas a reality test.

What about you?  Do you think you’re a curmudgeon?  How do you work with people you might consider curmudgeons?

I’ve written a special report on relationship and roles you play in your business.  If you are concerned that you might be doing the wrong thing from time to time this report is for you.  To get this report, just click on the button below.

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Topics: business coaching, communication, roles

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