Weekend Pith: You Schmooze, You Lose

One of my Life Rules is not so much a conscious rule I carefully crafted and then imposed upon my life, but something I’ve gradually realized to be a conviction, and as it seemed to serve me well, I’ve formally adopted it as a rule to life by.

Don’t Schmooze.

Now I realize that the word “schmooze” may have slightly different meanings depending on who you are. So when I say it, I use it in the way I heard it growing up: to be a flatterer, to make someone feel better about themselves because they’re socially more powerful or attractive or whatnot.

I believe kiss-ass is the more advanced term.

The “don’t schmooze” rule isn’t very difficult for me to follow, because I’m not naturally someone who’s good at small talk and flattery. I’m polite, of course, and I think everyone should be. But Schmoozing takes politeness to another level, where someone expects the royal treatment because people give it to her.

The problem with schmoozing is that it creates a lose-lose situation. The schmoozer can never really be authentic, because she’s always trying to protect the feelings of the schmoozee. And the schmoozee isn’t really benefited either, because she never deals with a challenge to her ego. It’s mutually destructive, even if subtly so.

I’m not really sure if there’s a specific cure for the serial schmoozer, but I think the remedy must be, like schmoozing itself, subtle. You don’t go from being a schmoozer to an antagonist overnight. Nor should you. Freedom from schmoozing comes with the realization that you are valuable in your own right and way, that your experiences are valid, that your thoughts and opinions matter. Freedom comes from learning to bear the momentary discomfort of disagreement, the temporary pain of disapproval. Freedom comes from recognizing your own strength and integrity, something a schmoozee has to get from others.

You schmooze, you lose.

 

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