We all see the world through our own eyes, and it can be hard to recognize how our words and actions appear to other people. One of the challenges of being a difficult person is realizing that you're a difficult person. I've known many difficult people who, I suspect, have no idea that others find them difficult!
In his excellent book The No A****** Rule(I'm omitting the title not from prudery but from fear of spam-blockers), and also on his blog, Work Matters, Bob Sutton has a quiz to help people recognize if they are a*******.
I was inspired to adapt that material for this quiz. As you answer these questions, be brutally honest with yourself. Don't make excuses for yourself or other people; just try to answer accurately. These questions apply to family members gathering for a holiday, or to co-workers, or to any group of people who are trying to get along with each other.
- When you join a group of people, does the mood often shift? Does a group tend to break apart after you join it?
- When you do something generous for others, do you think it only right that your generosity will allow you to make decisions for them or direct their actions?
- Do you find it hard to get your calls and emails returned?
- Do you often find that when you do something nice for people, they do a lot of grumbling? Do they seem ungrateful or uncooperative? Do they seem reluctant to accept your generosity? For example, you offered to host Thanksgiving dinner, but no one appreciated it.
- Are you often puzzled when people dramatically over-react to little mistakes, oversights, or casual remarks you make? You bring up some hilarious anecdote from years ago, and everyone acts upset.
- Do you think it important to express your true feelings and views authentically, even if that means upsetting other people?
- Do you find that people seem resentful and angry when you offer objective, helpful criticism or advice?
- Do you often find yourself saying defensively, "It was just a joke!" Along the same lines, do you find yourself remarking on how other people don't have a sense of humor, or can't laugh at a little teasing?
- Do you find that even when you're trying to be helpful by explaining something or providing information, people don't seem to want to listen to you?
- Do you feel annoyed because people tend to refuse to acknowledge your greater experience or knowledge in an area, and instead, ignore your suggestions?
- Do people tend to change the conversation when you try to explain an insight that has led you to make a major lifestyle change?
- Do people tend to gang up against you -- when you're arguing one side, everyone takes the other side, or when one person criticizes you, everyone else chimes in?
- Do you find it funny to see other people squirm?
- If someone asks for your opinion, do you think it's right to tell them frankly what you think?
- Do you think it's useful to point out people's mistakes, areas of incompetence, or previous track records of failure?
- Is it fairly common for one person to tell you that he or she will speak to a third person, so that you don't have to? In other words, do people volunteer to act as intermediaries for you, rather than let you do your own talking?
- Do you think it's a waste of time for people to talk about their personal lives or pursuits?
"Yes" answers may be a red flag that you're a source of unhappiness for others. Not necessarily, but perhaps. What do you think? Do you disagree with some of these questions -- or have additional ones to add?
It's Word-of-Mouth Day, when I gently encourage (or, you might think, pester) you to spread the word about the Happiness Project. You might:
-- NEW! Watch the 30-second television commercial (!)
-- Forward the link to someone you think would be interested
-- Link to a post on Twitter (follow me @gretchenrubin)
-- Sign up for my free monthly newsletter (about 42,000 people get it)
-- Buy the book
-- Join the 2010 Happiness Challenge to make 2010 a happier year
-- Put a link to the blog in your Facebook status update
-- Watch the one-minute book video
Thanks! I really appreciate any help. Word of mouth is the BEST.