Entitlement: Your Biggest Flaw?

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I was on a panel last night at my alma mater Boston University, and someone asked me what one thing someone could do to absolutely, positively, guarantee that I’d never give them their first job.

The answer was pretty simple: If they came in with even the slightest sense of entitlement, I’d never hire them.

There is nothing worse than entitlement. It reeks of caustic, old-way-of-doing-things attitude. It screams “Don’t you know who I am?” And nothing, absolutely nothing, can ruin your chances faster, both in life or in business.

Whether you’re fresh out of college  looking for your first break, or the CEO heading to a new CEO position, entitlement can hurt you. No one wants to work with someone entitled. It just isn’t fun. And trust me, if you’re entitled, you won’t have your job for long.

Are you entitled? Even a little bit? Here’s a list of things people do that may or may not cause others to think them entitled. Everyone’s been guilty of at least one of these. Have you? (Even I have, from time to time.) The key, is not to make them a habit. When you make them a habit, you’re entitled, and people know it.

Look how much stuff I have!

1) “Look how important I am!” The entitled jerk believes that the higher his professional career grows, the more to which he believes he’s entitled.  Example A, taken this morning, in the first class car of Amtrak. I guarantee this guy paid for one seat, but of course, his shit is spread out over two of them, like he’s king of the train. And yes, without question, he’s also the same guy who’s been SHOUTING into his cell phone for the past half hour, oblivious of anyone else. I will NEVER do business with him.

2) “I’m owed something just for showing up!” I’ve seen this countless times – Let me tell you a story. I once volunteered with an animal shelter, doing everything from playing with the dogs and cats to cleaning out their cages. Another volunteer started the same day I did. With ten minutes, she was asking if they had bottled water, could she just walk the dogs and not clean their cages because “they’re so dirty,” and other fun things. She didn’t make it through lunch before being asked to leave. Can you imagine working with that person? Ugh. The absolute best way to make sure I want to keep you as an employee is to volunteer for the jobs that no one else wants. Those are the ones that guarantee you’ll stick around long after the entitled ones have been shown the door.

3) If you can’t accept that other people have traits that are different from yours, you may be entitled. I remember working with someone once, back in my Geek Factory days, who could never understand the relationship I had with my parents. (A close one, we still talk all the time.) Just because she had a very cold relationship with her parents, I was somehow “weak” for having a warm, caring one. She simply never got it. It had to be her way or no way. She didn’t last long with us. People do things differently. Embrace this. You might learn a thing or two.

4) It’s never the entitled person’s fault. This one is huge. Doesn’t matter how badly the entitled person has screwed up, it’s always, always, always someone else’s fault. Excuses range from “I wasn’t trained well enough,” to “I was distracted by ____” to anything else they can think of. Instead of taking responsibility, they can’t fathom, for a second, how it could possibly be their fault. They’ll even go out of their way to recall a former argument, or something someone else did wrong at another time, instead of taking responsibility for their actions. Fact: People screw up. Own it, take responsibility, and move on.

5) They believe they’re better than the people who serve them. Nothing, absolutely nothing, gets me angrier than people who mistreat waitstaff, taxi drivers, etc. It’s the most infuriating thing in the world to me. You know why? Because I was one of them in a past life. Yes, I worked in a yogurt store, I delivered papers, I worked in a cafeteria. And in each job, there was always someone who treated me lower than garbage because they thought I was less important than them. You can tell a TON about someone by how they treat those who serve them. Ever gone to breakfast, lunch, or dinner with me as I was thinking about hiring you? I guarantee that a decent amount of my decision was based on how you interacted with the waitstaff.

End result? Entitlement sucks. The best way to prevent entitlement is to stay humble. Humbleness kills entitlement dead, like RAID on a roach. Stay humble, stay hustling, and never, ever start believing your own press.

Did I miss any sure signs of entitlement? Let me know below in the comments, and as always, thanks for reading.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Lisa Valdes says:

    Great article, wish the veil would rip for these entitled people. Maybe one at a time.

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