There was a time when I believed harshly criticizing one's work or views somehow made me appear smarter than they are.
I can't really pinpoint what the influences were that caused me to respond like that in conversations. Maybe it was my private school university education, or the frustrated intellectuals and psuedo-intellectuals I dated in college.
Years later, I look at how I interact now compared to then. My willingness to truly listen to what people say, observe what they do, and in some way find a point to which I can relate before hauling off with judgments.
This is not to make me sound like Miss American Pie. Of course, I experience triggers multiple times a day that might cause me to respond quickly with ignorant criticism. But the me today compared to that of several years ago has tempered in this area.
As what I call a "consultant to the food industry" on my business card, I meet folks all the time—marketing experts, coaches, industry fixtures—who appear to think selling "pissy" qualifies them as the best leaders in the industry.
In my humble imagination (or reality), these people come in the form of personalities who can't wait to shoot down people's ideas or suggestions, or turn what might be a legitimate question into a stupid one.
While this "cache" might work out fine for them and help them continue to generate business, I was not so successful leading with that type of behavior.
Lately, I've found leading with compassion, while executing well-researched, well-thought-out solutions, is what keeps me on retainer. Are people quicker to overstep their boundaries now that I'm operating this way? Probably. Afterall, I've had to have some serious and stern conversations with fellow vendors and clients about my standards of both quality and integrity. While those conversations weren't pleasant, in the end, those players came to understand I am an amiable person who wants the best for the team, while not price-gouging.
In my experience as a "colleague," it doesn't matter whether you call yourself a consultant, coach or copywriter, if you're quick to dwell on the flaws in a manner that's harsh and condescending, you're an overpaid critic.
From a consumer perspective, if coaches, consultants or "experts" are constantly making points by being condescending or unduly critical, it doesn't mean you're the best at what you do, it doesn't mean you know more than the others or that you're indispensable. It just makes you pissy (but there I go judging, hypocritical me).
And I've learned pissy is counter-effective. After all, it costs less to retain our current clients than it does to generate new ones. At least for me, I remember clients not coming back when pissy was on my list of daily specials.