Do you ignore the “little people”?

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Allow me to use the same term as Tom Peters, “little people”, because I think it’s easy to understand what and who we are talking about. Just to clarify, in case someone thinks otherwise, I don’t use it in the derogatory sense, rather to get us all on the same level that we can understand.

Let’s, however, give some examples of those “little people”: in a company, a boss could consider “little people” to be those below them, who they consider to not affect them at all. They could be the cleaning lady, the window cleaner, a telemarketer or the last sales clerk to start working at the “yellow arches.” If we look at Social Networks, a “guru” or someone with many followers could consider “little people” as being someone with fewer followers or an apparently limited repercussion.

When someone labels another person like that, several things happen. One is they are not showing their moral demeanor (maybe we can’t see it if we aren’t close to that person or their attitude isn’t very obvious publically). Another is they act in line with that label of the “little people” that they have given others, doing things like: ignoring that person, showing disdain more or less subtly, not taking in account what they might say or contribute, etc.

I’m not going to go into that for the moment, or the ethical considerations of that behavior or even in what that tells us about the person doing it, rather only into several practical issues. The first is that person who has been dubbed “little people” may have greater influence that the other arrogant individual believes. And that can happen in several ways: maybe that last employee in the chain of command is responsible for complying with the strategy that the “egomaniac” has proposed. If that’s the case, I can assure that in the short or long term, the “narcissist” will have problems. Maybe those people labeled as “little people” do not have direct responsibility, but hold influence over people that do and who take their opinions into account. In a Social Network that becomes even more evident, as behind a determine profile, there is often much more than we are capable of seeing.

I think it would be very naive to think that there aren’t people like that and that anyone, to a greater or less degree, can fall into that behavior on occasions. Although at first sight, we find the whole idea detestable. We humans have the tendency to compare ourselves to others and label them in some way. That false superiority dehumanizes the other and is something that people notice. It says very little about what they do and indicates much insecurity and egotism that others can recognize. What’s more, that “distain” leaves a mark on the person scorned, which is much deeper than we realize.

When it comes down to it, the problem results in leaving a trail of bitter people in your wake, which is a poor investment for the future. As the well-known expression goes: Be nice to people on your way up because you’ll meet them on your way down. Remember, at some stage or another, you’ll find yourself somewhere else, no matter how high you are now. If you have left a bitter trail in your wake, don’t complain about your bad luck or how badly the others treat you, you’ll have earned it.

Have you sunk to that attitude with others at some time or another? Do you know anyone that does it?