Take this simple quiz to see if you have an inflated sense of entitlement.
1. When a colleague at your office gets special acknowledgment for their work how do you typically feel?
A. You wonder if you'll ever get acknowledged for your hard work
B. You feel a smidgen of contempt for your colleague (are they really that great?)
C. You feel happy for them
2. Think about either your car or your wardrobe -- whichever is an area where there's room for improvement. When you consider your car/wardrobe, which are you most likely to feel?
A. Shame that others will think less of you and not see your potential because your car/wardrobe doesn't accurately represent who you are
B. Gratitude that you've got something nice to drive/wear while you're saving for something better
C. Resentment that prices are so high for the things you need
3. If you're in a hurry and other drivers or pedestrians are blocking your way because they're moving too slowly, what's your typical reaction?
A. Tension and a touch of anger
B. A bit of distain or contempt for the meanderers and bad drivers out there
4. Compared to most people, how often are you angry?
A. More -- other people just don't see all there is to be ticked-off about
B. About the same as others
C. Less -- you can't remember last time you got angry about anything
5. Which of the following happens in your professional life?
A. People are jealous of you and competitive with you
B. If anything, you're simply overlooked and fly under the radar
C. Your bosses aren't as capable as they could be and so you have to figure it out for them
The following responses could be an indication of entitlement. 1 point is a milder indicator, 2 points is a more pronounced indication.
1. A-1, B-2
2. A-1, C-2
3. A-1, B-2
5. A-2, C-1
If you scored 6 points or more -- uh oh.
The entitled get a lot of attention for irritating others.
But what's harder than working with, living near or sharing the road (or your life) with an overly entitled person? Being that person. While they may get their way more often than others, what they don't get as much of is happiness.
Did you notice in the quiz that the entitled response is always a negative reaction? In each scenario the entitled person is more likely to be dissatisfied or unhappy than those whose expectations are aligned with society and the needs of others. They're more prone to anger, more often disappointed and they have a harder time finding fulfilling relationships.
The antidote to entitlement is gratitude and empathy.
Richard Wiseman, in his new book, "59 Seconds," notes a study where people were asked to list five things a week they were grateful for. Other groups were asked to record five things that annoyed them or five general events. At the end of the study, the group that was assigned "gratitude" was happier, more optimistic and even healthier.
When I was in graduate school, the great psychologist Rollo May visited our class. One of my classmates asked his opinion on how to be happy. His response was, "pay more attention to other people than you do to yourself." There's nothing lonelier or more unrewarding than a life devoted to the self.
Consider Lisa. When her boyfriend left her, Lisa asked for and was granted several weeks of time off. A few days after she returned she asked her boss to reorganize her colleague's schedules so that she could attend a cooking class. When her boss reminded her that her team had just worked extra hours to accommodate her absence, she began to cry. Not in gratitude, but because, she "felt sad that her boss was unable to understand her needs."
Lisa is probably exasperating to work with, and her teammates must grow weary of feeling unappreciated. But at the end of the day her teammates are probably happier people.
And now for the disclaimers:
1. This quiz is a collection of scenarios and responses commonly associated with entitlement but not a valid measure of entitlement. The primary purpose of the quiz is to illustrate the negative emotions associated with entitlement.
2. Entitlement, narcissism, self-absorption and grandiosity are all branches of the same tree. The only branch dealt with in this blog is entitlement.