Personality Traits, Experts and Connectors

December 9, 2009

“We should not permit tolerance to degenerate into indifference.” Margaret Chase Smith

I couldn’t help but see she had a bruise under her right eye. Hair dyed jet black, her movements  efficient with years of experience in small town greasy spoons, she had toast, coffee and a smile in front of me before my butt hit the stool.  Although she didn’t know it, her greatest talent was networking with people. As I look back I realize, this underpaid waitress was a connector, an expert with above average people skills.
womans-faceShe saw me staring at her face. I didn’t have to ask, her boyfriend had smacked her again. Though this happened years ago, it remains vivid in my mind. I learned a lot from this work-a-day waitress, who allowed bullies to take advantage of her good nature.

She took a long draw from her cigarette, a sip of black coffee and said,
“I know he’s a bastard, but I love him anyway.”
I nodded pretending to understand why anyone would allow themselves to be abused. I didn’t then and I still don’t understand abuse. Of course this is an intensely social and personal problem for a lot of women, and occasionally men. Although she never knew it, she set me to thinking about how we all have asinine people in our lives, and how we tolerate them.

What is more important to you if you have a health problem, a doctor’s expertise or his personality? The mechanic who fixes your car has an uncanny ability locating engine problems, but he is a jerk. Will you go back when your car needs repair?   Almost every day we deal with a specialist, someone we need to repair something we have, our body, car, plumbing, gadgets or widgets. Some are both competent and have a pleasant personality; others do a fine job yet leave us longing for a speedup in the science of robotics to replace them.

At first glance these questions appear to be overly simplistic or naive. Of course you would take a lot of guff to save your life. But what else does a vile personality imply? If someone is brutal, cruel with his words and demeanor, do these traits affect his abilities? Is he simply a bully, or is there some deep-seated psychological depravity in his makeup?

Another factor of tolerance for people are those we admire. It may be for their expertise, brains or good looks. The why doesn’t matter, some facet of their being attracts us. These are the people who we feel can help us with whatever our focus is. This could be a person you follow on Twitter, Facebook or whatever your online networking passion may be. I think of these people a “Trust Agents” from the book by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.

A loose definition of Trust Agent is: People who want to help their network of people online feel connected and taken care of in a very human way. For the most part this is exactly what happens. I don’t know Chris Brogan personally, but he comes across as the kind of guy I would trust, and he is anything but obnoxious. He is a connector, one who offers a service that helps people in all walks of life, online or off.

We have always had the online obnoxious expert. He can guide us, help us with tech problems, he is at the top of his game. Then one day on Twitter he makes an offensive, base remark, diametrically opposed to our personal belief system. We come back to the basic questions.
How much weight does the personality factor carry with an expert/connector?
How much arrogance and egotistical ill temper will you tolerate with experts you can’t stand to be around?

If the expert is detestable, for me it may mean the difference whether we can do business or not . This may even include a doctor who might save my life, although this is a debate in itself, far too involved for this discussion. Its all about communication. If I cannot effectively communicate with an expert, then I risk losing his talent to solve my problem, and he loses my business and respect. The waitress may “…love him anyway” but he is still a bastard who will hit her. Somewhere the cycle has to end.

And now, what are your thoughts on experts, connectors and tolerance?

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