November 7, 2016

"We all want to feel that we’re the same person on the outside as we are on the inside, and when we can’t achieve that congruence, we feel alienated and depersonalized."

Wrote Annie Murphy Paul in "The High Cost Of Acting Happy," quoted in The New York Magazine article "Huh, Would You Believe That Forcing Employees to Act Happy Is a Bad Idea?"

I'm interested in this idea that there is a Real You and that You needs to be out and proud even when it's grouchy or contemptuous or sad and lonely. I think if we were forced to exhibit our Real Self all the time, it would hurt even more than if we put on a Game Face for the public. The Real Me wants some privacy, not exposure to everybody's judgment. And they'd better show it too, or they'll be alienated and depersonalized with their lack of inside/outside congruence.

Too much of a discrepancy between inner and outer selves might be a problem, but in a job, isn't it only a problem when you are not well suited to the position? If you're unhappy smiling and acting as though you like the customers, the company shouldn't want you at the front counter... unless they've got some kind of hipster vibe concept and they think the customers will cotton to getting snubbed by The Sullen Barista.

41 comments:

rhhardin said...

That's how the Peter Principle recommendation works. Manage to show flaws that prevent you from being promoted but don't affect your job.

There's no inner and outer necessary. Just be who you are.

If women are idiotic, just say so.

Sydney said...

Other people don't deserve to be subjected to your inner moods. It's just good manners to act pleasant with others as part of your job. And if you can stay pleasant when they are not, then that's a special grace there.

robother said...

European emigre friends have said that the relentless public cheerfulness that is the American default public personna gets to them, is actually kind of depressing. The French, Spanish and Italian (Sicilian) public personnae that I am personally familiar with are not sullen, but are definitely not forced the chipper of, say, Hampton Inn receptionist.

robother said...

"the forced chipper" I meant to say. And, well, sullen can definitely be applied to a fair share of big city French wait staff.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

I'm interested in this idea that there is a Real You and that You needs to be out and proud even when it's grouchy or contemptuous or sad and lonely.

That's the best part of getting older. I don't have to keep pretending.

p.s. get the hell off my lawn!

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I must not know the meaning of alienated.

Same goes for depersonalized.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I always told my children You are welcome to be unhappy. You're not welcome to be unpleasant.

traditionalguy said...

Speaking of unhappy faces, the young CNN and MSNBC panelists look like their dogs died and they are adrift in a strange land. The older ones are still pretending they KNEW it all along.

Pretty Mika looked so sad this morning that my wife asked whether Joe had dumped her after she divorced her husband for him.

Meanwhile Trump did his Virginia Midnight Special, and Hillary cancelled her victory party fireworks.

But the saddest is Chris Christy whom no one is suggesting for a Trump Administration appointment. But there is always a huge Special Prosecutor opening unless Obama Pardons everybody.

Henry said...

"Be Yourself" is the moral of almost every animated family film released in the last two decades. Except Cars. But then Planes goes back to the "be yourself" mantra.

SukieTawdry said...

The Public Me is pretty much the Real Me. My husband, family, close friends and former employers will attest to that. I've always been a "here I am, take it or leave it" type. Of course, there are some things about me that only I know.

Big Mike said...

The key tag is "etiquette". I think you can blame your fellow socially liberal Boomers as much as anyone else, Professor, for its gradual disappearance.

Laslo Spatula said...

The Girl at Starbucks That Hates You has covered this in detail.

Great. Now I am being judged on the Quality of my Smiling. For fucking minimum wage.

Then there are the older men who smile at me because I must make them think of their daughter: I will smile at them even if I'm not feeling it, just because, you know?

I am Laslo.

Ron said...

Back when the old Borders bookstore was on State st. in Ann Arbor, it was staffed by obnoxious, whiny, depressed and supercilious grad students...but boy, they damn well knew their books! I was sort of car wreck fascinated with seeing the many forms of crabappleitude, and got generally really good recommendations to boot.

Jim said...

I have the exact opposite problem. My life is so good, and I am so happy that if people saw the real Jim, they would not believe it.

Laslo Spatula said...

Socially Awkward Guy Who Makes No Eye Contact says:

People are always telling me that I need to smile because I look like a loser, but then when I smile they say I look super-creepy. So basically, those are the only two ways people see me: it is certainly the only ways they act towards me. Either way, they usually tell me I need to wash my hair, because my hair is stringy and greasy and gross...

But when I'm a fourteen-year-old girl on the Internet everything changes. I'm popular, and everyone wants to fuck me. Well, maybe not everyone, but a lot of older men: when I'm sad they want to make me happy, and when I'm happy they send me pictures of their dick and say they want to meet me in person...

So I say a lot of things like:

"My breasts are getting SOooo big. I hope that's normal."

"Would a penis THAT big fit in where I go pee-pee?"

"If I swallow it will a baby grow in my stomach?"

Who knows? Maybe I was meant to be a fourteen-year-old girl, even if only to feel love from older men who smile creepy and want to show me their penis: still, it sounds better than what I have now. But then -- of course -- I'd probably be a creepy fourteen-year-old girl, with hair that is stringy and greasy and gross...

Like no one else thinks these things.

I hope the Girl with the Blue Hair is working at McDonalds today.

I am Laslo.

Fen said...

The sin of our times is Vanity.

It's truly amazing how destructive it is.

"What's the harm if no one else is injured?"

Damnit Screwtape, you are a genius.

buwaya said...

The Aristotelian view is that attitude (ethics, virtue) comes from practice.
The practice of cheerfulness is therefore the route to becoming cheerful.

buwaya said...

""Be Yourself" is the moral of almost every animated family film released in the last two decades. Except Cars."

Pixars "Cars" was a very refreshing movie actually. I think its excellent moral philosophy.
Very few are like that, and I'm surprised it got made.

Kent Wood said...

Sure, the Real You may be 'grouchy' or whatever, but for civilized people this feeling of the moment is transcended by the desire to get along with others and not make a nuisance of yourself without pressing need.

So keeping your lizard brain in check when it counts is still being true to who you are.

Kent Wood said...

"I must not know the meaning of alienated.

Same goes for depersonalized."

It's a special sort of joy that the cultural Maoists want for everyone.

Unknown said...

The pop psych dictum that I'm OK-you're OK, that self-esteem is the highest good, blah blah blah goes against the whole grain of historical western philosophy and religion and culture: the idea that one can improve oneself. And the idea of self-improvement was further amplified through most of American history. That one was NOT trapped in the station or job of one's parents, that one could choose to be more successful and happier by working harder and getting educated. This attitude did wonders to overcome European fatalism. In the religious context, it was believed not merely that man was sinful, but that we can overcome sin (even if not totally) and that some of us can even become saints.
But now, we are not permitted to judge people, even when they are being idiots or criminals, because that will hurt their self-esteem. We dare not say that any culture or practice is "better" than another, because everything is relative. No books are "great books", it is just opinion. Therefore, there is no need to strive to become a better person, kinder, more thoughtful, a better parent and spouse. In fact, any such striving is inherently judgemental because "better" always presumes that something else is worse. We cannot compare cultures and say culture X has great this but bad that--which would help us learn. Oh, no. They are all equal, even if some cultures are totally corrupt and commit genocide or oppress women or whatever. It leads to the censoring of all judgement.

William Chadwick said...

Behavioral psychologists tell us that acting a way that is, at the start, unnatural for us, will eventually get us to feel the way we're acting. (The old "fake it 'til you make it" ploy.) I've read that if unhappy people start to smile, eventually they will feel happy. I'll remember this if Hillary wins and the Clinton Gang turn the US into Venezuela del Norte.

mccullough said...

Always be on the lookout for one-eyes Jacks

gbarto said...

In an earlier time, I would have had more doubts about this. If you liked people, you'd go into sales. If you liked quiet and order you'd go into accounting. And so on. Today, though, we're told that everybody is in sales and your number one product is you. Fair enough, but should your promotion really depend on your elevator speech and your ability to seem like a lot of fun at the team off-site?

If the world were working better, I'd be fine with letting the folks who think networking and personal branding are the purpose of life run the show. But if they are running businesses and countries into the ground even as they lay off the boring people who just want to do their work, there's a disconnect, as though the truest preparation for life is the high school lunch table. Maybe it is. In which case, as an introvert, I'm screwed.

Jonathan Graehl said...

society simply can't accommodate everyone stewing and luxuriating publicly in their true feelings

the dangers of social contagion + flash mobs alone justify teaching discipline

yes, you don't want the gap to become too large. an act that involves too much cognitive dissonance is a tax on creativity+ingenuity.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...Too much of a discrepancy between inner and outer selves might be a problem, but in a job, isn't it only a problem when you are not well suited to the position?

What does "well suited" mean, though, Professor? Weren't you just telling us you're an artist/poet who acted as a law professor all these years (up to your impending retirement)? Do you consider yourself well suited to your current (soon to be former) profession?

Achilles said...

If your words do not match your actions you are probably a democrat voting for Hillary.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Neither by nature, then, nor contrary to nature do the virtues arise in us; rather we are adapted by nature to receive them, and are made perfect by habit.

Again, of all the things that come to us by nature we first acquire the potentiality and later exhibit the activity (this is plain in the case of the senses; for it was not by often seeing or often hearing that we got these senses, but on the contrary we had them before we used them, and did not come to have them by using them); but the virtues we get by first exercising them, as also happens in the case of the arts as well. For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them, e.g. men become builders by building and lyreplayers by playing the lyre; so too we become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.

This is confirmed by what happens in states; for legislators make the citizens good by forming habits in them, and this is the wish of every legislator, and those who do not effect it miss their mark, and it is in this that a good constitution differs from a bad one.


Then:
Again, it is from the same causes and by the same means that every virtue is both produced and destroyed, and similarly every art; for it is from playing the lyre that both good and bad lyre-players are produced. And the corresponding statement is true of builders and of all the rest; men will be good or bad builders as a result of building well or badly. For if this were not so, there would have been no need of a teacher, but all men would have been born good or bad at their craft. This, then, is the case with the virtues also; by doing the acts that we do in our transactions with other men we become just or unjust, and by doing the acts that we do in the presence of danger, and being habituated to feel fear or confidence, we become brave or cowardly. The same is true of appetites and feelings of anger; some men become temperate and good-tempered, others self-indulgent and irascible, by behaving in one way or the other in the appropriate circumstances. Thus, in one word, states of character arise out of like activities. This is why the activities we exhibit must be of a certain kind; it is because the states of character correspond to the differences between these. It makes no small difference, then, whether we form habits of one kind or of another from our very youth; it makes a very great difference, or rather all the difference.

--Some dead white(?) cis man.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

There are always various versions of "you", depending on where you are, who you are with and what you are doing.

When I was working (now retired) I had the work persona. Then there is the hanging out with friends persona. The private person you are with your spouse. The mother person when with your children. Multiple versions.

Way back when, I worked at a bank and my boss, the branch manager, was a good friend. It was mostly women at the bank and on Friday...she would announce "Stress management meeting at the XYZ bar." Which meant she was buying the first drink. We would all take off our work persona and get into the Friday winding down personas, hanging out with the gang.

Invariably, someone would want to approach her or one of the other of us and ask "banking" type questions. I'll never forget her stock answer. It was perfect.

"I don't drink at the bank and I don't bank at the bar. Come and see me on Monday." Big smile and change the subject.

Keeping the parts separate keeps you sane.

David said...

I have never felt the same inside as out on any long term basis. And which is which?

Freeman Hunt said...

People's insides are usually too volatile to be let outside all the time.

rhhardin said...

Only polite people have this trouble.

A nervous laugh is the usual mark.

Guildofcannonballs said...

"The sin of our times is Vanity."

You make Althouse appear Barnhardtish.

An... you know what I mean.

You know.

I SHALL RETURN TOMORROW ANGEL.

NOT BECAUSE THE CLINTON CLAN KILLED ME NEITHER: I harmed myself with the Guild, and Easylivng1 and NotquiteunBuckley too.

Angel will at least have the cover of irony.

Good Lord shall see I get what I got coming, and hey, if Allah will it too good for Allah.

Guildofcannonballs said...

The quote used as title/post demonstrate that which serruptiseoaly (but spelled relight and meaning something) alienation.

Boy, beta and I been there.

Us.

Heh, we suffer the same maladies because we are so similar, like Scott Adams, Wyatt Earp, Fred Flinstone, and Ron Dayne.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Watching 2001 it is clear Kubrick knew.

He knew.

Vanity reign's and rein's and rain's and also lastly does'nt shit because IT AIN'T ORGANIC.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Daisy?

Daisy?

Bycicle?

Guildofcannonballs said...

Any of you ass' quote me quoting the Coen's?

Cocksuck whore.

!

Guildofcannonballs said...

I quote Buckley and Coen's better than all y'all " unknown unknown " CANNOT FUCKING FATHOM.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Dispense with the mirthful chuckle.

Would that itvtwere so simple.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Dispense with the mirthful chuckles.

Anthony said...

I actually had this same thought recently. I've been going through some rough times that may or may not have anything to do with clinical anxiety or whatever, but one thing that occurred to me was that I've long digested the idea of "being yourself" as a Good Thing. That my Inner Self should be displayed as my Outer Self and that people should like me or not with that.

But what if your Inner Self has some bad crap about it? Should you put it all out there, warts and all? I used to think I was just being Honest (not that I go around doing really weird stuff, mind you, just because It's The Real Me) that way.

But there are some negatives (duh) about the Inner Me. It occurred to me that perhaps one really could not Be Yourself and not be a total phony. Even that what I do on the outside will eventually sink in and become part of the Inner Me. That was actually a fairly profound thought, I thought.