On "sounding kinda c*nty"
A reflection on agreeableness
Just a heads up, there will be multiple “bad words” written throughout this piece.
In a private group chat, I provided an answer to a topic and was told by a new addition that “It just sounds kinda cunty.” Before leaving the private group chat the same person quipped people (me) should be more focused on building their own things rather than what other people are doing.
He was right for a couple of reasons.
In general, it’s better to devote your time building rather than tearing others down.
I was being a bit cunty
I’m not nearly as measured in a private group chat as I am on a public forum like my substack, twitter, or podcast. The forum of a private group chat implies to me a comradery of sorts - I can express myself unreservedly and extemporaneously without considering the fallout of having a difference in opinion with another member.
In brief, my “cunty” comments were directed at someone else who is a content creator, specifically what I don’t like about their product. When push comes to shove I can provide what I don’t like about even my most favorite content creators (see here for proof). The reason for this is pretty simple if you think about it - I’m an opinionated person.1
People tend to use pejoratives - or words with negative connotations - when they want to insult, belittle, or disparage someone else or their opinion. While the individual in question used the word “cunty”, he could have substituted, “dickish”, “douchey”, “asshole”, “bitchy”, or any of the other countless insults meant to convey disrespect.
The effect is the same - attempting to put the other person (me) down to elevate themselves or another person.
Now to the interesting bit -
The problem with agreeableness
My main hustle is B2B sales. There are multiple companies who employ hundreds of people across the continent of North America that compete directly with me and my business. Most of those men and women are good people who work hard to provide a living for themselves and their families. All those nice things I just said go out the window however when one of those “good people” try to take business away from me2, or when I successfully take business away from them.
Agreeableness can be defined as “the tendency to act in a cooperative, unselfish manner.” It manifests in part as the ability/desire to put the needs of another (or group) before your own. Clearly, this is a good trait to possess. Being group-orientated when you’re part of a team has many advantages, but if you maximize this trait you effectively eliminate the competitive drive.
This is to say, if “I” always and in every case preferred a group’s success or another person’s success over my own success - “I” will not win, and will often lose.
If I were to take the approach that there was nothing unique about my product or the service that comes with it, I would lose business and likely my job. What I said about my competition above however still remains valid. By and large they are good people doing the same thing that I do. A competitive business environment with a profit incentive like sales requires that “I” win and “they” lose for a customer’s business - it’s nothing personal.
Like sales, the game of “content creation”3 is competitive. Like sales, there are plenty of places a consumer can go to consume content. Therefore it is incumbent on a creator to compete4 with other creators in order to demonstrate to consumers why they should be watched. It follows from this you should know what you like and don’t like about other people in your field. It’s really nothing personal from my perspective, but because people put a piece of themselves in creative endeavors5 it can feel more personal when someone calls you a cunt and implies you’re not building anything.
Anyone who denies that is either naïve or disingenuous and can therefore be dismissed for the purposes of this conversation.
Getting comfortable with the idea that sometimes other people have to “lose” is difficult if you’re naturally agreeable like I am. When you don’t know how to establish healthy boundaries, you can be bullied6 by “friends”, have “friends” who overstay their welcome on your couch, or “friends” who never seem to pick up a check. When you have healthy boundaries, you can compete against friends at the highest level and no one feels hurt.7
This is the problem with agreeableness, there are those who would hijack the good impulse for their own selfish desires, and oftentimes the agreeable person does not recognize this as being detrimental until it is too late. This is to say, you should choose your friends wisely and carefully. Certainly this is the lesson reinforced to me by this recent episode.
The irony of the situation that spawned the personal reflection that I turned into this piece on mindset8 is that the matter was raised in private, answered in private, but that person decided to talk publicly about his criticism without the proper context.
This leaves me open to write a marginally passive-aggressive piece with a solid core that will generate some buzz, and in turn point people in my direction.
I know, this is a shocking revelation about someone who writes a newsletter and hosts a podcast.
to use the broadest term available
and in many cases cooperate
your author included
here I mean hurtful words and actions beyond what is colloquially referred to as “busting balls”
look to professional sports and friendships between players of different teams
“growing my brand” if you will