Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Speaking of Cynicism, Skepticism and Sarcasm -- Braintenance Is Fun!

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Dear Great Minds (and those primordial crawlers aspiring to intellectual fecundity):

Cynicism. Skepticism. Sarcasm. (I've deliberately left out pessimism, but we'll get to it in future posts. What? Don't believe me? Then you must be skeptical.)

The above three are characteristics (either "attributes" or "limiting beliefs," depending upon which motivational speaker you're listening to, and depending upon your own personal frame of reference) belonging to individuals who are any combination of the following:

1. Very critical in their thinking, and need to be shown either evidence or an unbroken chain of coherent and cohesive logic in order to be convinced - many of these people go into the sciences, academia, certain exacting professions (the practice of law, accounting, auditing, et cetera) and investigative work, either in the private sector or under the banner/ behind the shield of government.

2. Very doubtful in their thinking, and functioning or evaluating things in light of past disillusionments, disappointments or other social or business scenarios where what was promised was not delivered. Their wisdom (with apologies to Helen Reddy) and perspective has been born of pain. They do not give anyone the benefit of the doubt, and are prone to assume the worst about people and promises.

3. Very clever, with a sense of irony and an enjoyment of wordplay. Sarcasm, always involves irony or some application of the famed oxymoron. There is occasionally a sense of cruelty or bitterness to it -- many of these individuals have been influenced by harsh criticism, and might even be suffering from a form of low self-esteem. Sarcasm requires wit, but it is a defensive posturing in terms of personal style in interacting with others. These people often wish, albeit subconsciously, to let others know that "I'm not one to be trifled with."

These three characteristics, if you look for them in others when trying to understand them or to communicate most effectively with them, will tell you something important about how to best "work" with them. If you exhibit frequent cynicism, skepticism or sarcasm, it might be time (after a period of introspection and retrospection) to change the way you present yourself. You might be sending unintended signals or giving away more insight than you'd like to a stranger...

"Know thyself...."


Douglas Castle
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