Cat with arrogant lookTwo articles have recently drawn my attention to a problem I’ve seen in the myriad posts making the rounds in the business/marketing/PR communities.

The first is a response to Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer banning employees from working remotely. The second talks about what the author describes as a choice between “freedom and security.” I have issues with the premises of both articles, but that’s not what really irks me about them.

Image: phunkstarr via Flickr, CC 2.0

Both authors are dismissive about the opposing point of view.

There aren’t too many things that really bother me about other people’s personalities, but arrogance is at the top of that short list. The inability to consider a different way of thinking handicaps you in your career. When it is a “my way or the highway” proposition, rarely do good things come of it.

Whether you are a manager, an entrepreneur, a solo PR pro, a 20-something worker who is a cog in the machine at this point in her career, or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, you are well served to always consider others thoughts.

While I disagree with Ms. Mayer (one is left to assume she was unhappy with the level of productivity coming from those workers), I’m glad to see her stick to her principles.

Make no mistake, there is a big difference between sticking to principles and arrogance.

In her article, Penelope Trunk makes completely valid points. Where the arrogance comes in to play is how she defines “success.” In her mind, it appears to mean succeeding at a Fortune 500 company. I have come across so many different business owners able to be hands-on parents and run a successful organization.

Some of them have even taken companies from bankruptcy in early 2008 to billing $500K in 2012. That’s pretty successful, right?

Michael and Nelly Roach of Caledon Virtual sent one son to college, and are raising two more kids at home during that same time frame (full disclosure: Michael and Nelly are friends, bosspeople, and clients of mine). The point is that you CAN have it all, it just depends on your definition of success.

Ignoring my family does not constitute success at any level, as far as I’m concerned.

Arrogance can show up in more ways than just belittling anyone who selects not to be a Fortune 500 CEO (also, the irony of Ms. Trunk’s bio is quite strong).

It can show up in a dismissive attitude of opposing viewpoints.

“Freedom vs. Security” is how Paige Soucie poses her post about starting your own company in your 20s vs. going to work for someone else. I don’t know if she intended her post to come off this way, but to me it reads as: choosing to work for someone other than yourself in your 20s categorizes you as an abject failure.

Forget that the top reasons Ms. Soucie lists as why she wanted to start her own company are frequent vacations, naps, and sleeping in. If I bust my butt at Widgets, Inc. after I graduate from college I’m unable to find out who I really am, according to Ms. Soucie. I find that incredibly arrogant.

To be fair, before I read these two posts I’d never interacted with either author (and that remains true for Ms. Trunk…though I haven’t reached out to her). I have no reason to think either of them are arrogant individuals, and I’m sure both are lovely people.

We’re all guilty of arrogance

(I may be guilty of it in this article…tell me about that in the comments), but what’s important is that we recognize that and fight it. As professional communicators, we have a responsibility to understand and consider every viewpoint. We don’t have to agree, but we do have to listen, consider, and reason.

Sadly, I feel like arrogance is becoming a celebrated quality in our country. Turn on any 24 hour cable news outlet and someone talking will be guilty of it within 30 seconds. Peruse your news feed today and, as you click on articles to read, ask yourself where the author is coming from. An opinion that doesn’t try to understand its opposite is an ill-formed one.

Don’t make the mistake of soaking in the glory of “being right” when you could potentially cost yourself business. Not to mention relationships of all kinds.

P.S. Have you ever seen a more arrogant look than that on the face of that cat? Doubtful.