Just a brief note in passing to discuss two things that on the surface might seem unrelated. That is because under the surface they are unrelated. They are smugness, and business plans.
First, business plans. If you were to go to a bank seeking financing for your business, be it nail grooming or dog bathing or plumbing and heating, the bank will ask to see a written business plan. Stripped of its jargon – things like market dimensions and depth, rate of return, maximized cash flow … all real to a degree but also inside baseball talk, the simplest way to understand a business plan is to answer the question: “What’s your gimmick?”
Here’s an example. Though the business has mushroomed, years ago McDonald’s sold hamburgers. Their gimmick was simple: break even on the sandwiches, and score big on soft drinks. Every-time we purchased a soda there, if we paid a buck, they made ninety cents. That was enough to sustain them all by itself, and a good business plan.
I ran into this yesterday with radon mitigation equipment. It is nothing but a gimmick. For it to work, three things are necessary: bad science, a frightened consumer, and a house that is changing hands.
This model worked on me even as I knew they were scamming me back when I sold that house in Livingston, Montana. The fact that the Realtor@ went behind my back and frightened the tenant was cynical and greedy. This is why I closed out my discussion at Nextdoor this morning by answering a Realtor@ who was feigning a lawsuit with the words from a very old and delightful movie. “I fart in your general direction,” I told him.
You might think that smug on my part, but it is not. It is just a show of heartfelt contempt.
Smug is something else again. One of my favorite South Park episodes, aside from the Tom Cruise working in a fudge factory as a packer one, was the Prius episode. People in South Park were buying that car in droves, and were very haughty and condescending to others about it. As a result, a cloud of “smug” was forming over the village. At the same time, George Clooney gave an acceptance speech at the Academy Awards that was haughty and holier than thou, and as a result, a cloud of smug formed over LA. It was making its way towards South park. In the end, the town was destroyed as the two clouds of smug collided and created a massive wind storm.
Smugness is a mask for deep insecurity. It is also passive aggressive. It is the P/A tactic that is so off-putting.
As defined, passive aggressiveness is …
“A tendency to engage in indirect expression of hostility through acts such as subtle insults, sullen behavior, stubbornness, or a deliberate failure to accomplish required tasks.”
Passive aggressive people communicate in such a way that we cannot win. The classic question asked in a P/A tone is “Do you still beat your wife?” Either yes or no is an admission of guilt. The “question” is really an accusation.
Another example: Suppose I have entered into a deal to sell a house, and have been told that I need to install $1,400 in radon equipment in the basement. I refuse. The Reator@, knowing I am going to stand my ground, elects to go behind my back and scare my tenant into leaving if I do not install the equipment. Vacancies are expensive, and one occurring right before closing might kill the deal. I am forced to choose the lesser of two evils.
With P/A people there is no good outcome. They run circles around honest and authentic people. While we are thinking, they are scheming.
The passive aggressive mindset is learned in the home, and normally straight communicators and P/A’s don’t get along. In the mating game, two P/A’s will often find each other and slowly drive each other into a state of constant anger and tension.
In the Nextdoor thread I mentioned below I encountered a dishonest business plan, smugness, and passive aggressiveness. The threat to sue me was just icing on the cake – I had exposed the man and his scheme, and he went on the attack to scare me away.
I farted in his general direction. But in the end, life is too short, people are gullible, and passive aggressive people are all around. He will carry on with his radon scheme.
I am thankful for this blog and its writers and commenters. And I appreciate it when someone tells me point-blank that I am wrong about something. Mistakes, after all, are the best teachers around, and direct communication, as opposed to sidewinders, is refreshing.