The dude doth protest too much, methinks

False Modesty

Sorry, Shakespeare. But this phrase from Hamlet comes to mind as I've been reflecting on the nature of false modesty.

Actually, I've learned quite a lot about this particular affliction from up close, personal contact with it. And what I've finally realized (maybe a little late) is that someone that "doth protest too much" is really masking a naked, ugly, overwhelming arrogance.

False modesty is an especially effective mask for arrogance. In cultures where arrogance is both endemic and therefore taboo, false modesty is the cover up. With false modesty, a guilt-ridden society can appear reformed while endorsing culturally impermissible arrogance.

False modesty is the sedative for arrogance's cutting blade. False modesty trades on apparent sincerity, lulling victims into an early trust. Once sedated, the cutting can begin. Then, the sudden personality bait-and-switch reveals penetrating aggression. Like a snake that paralyzes the prey before eating it, false modesty transfixes people.

The unmasked lie only makes the aggression worse. You end up recoiling at two things. The lie of false modesty itself. And worse, you are repulsed with embarrassment at the arrogance laid bare.

Now, when I hear people deny expertise they clearly want, my guard will be up. Way up.







2 responses to “The dude doth protest too much, methinks”

  1. […] I owe you an apology. I didn't approve your comment of August 27th in reply to my post of July 21 until today because it ended up in the spam bucket (imagine that!) and I didn't see it until today. Sorry about that. […]

  2. Someone who knows better Avatar
    Someone who knows better

    Sounds like the pseudo-intellectual ramblings of a disgraced executive wannabe who was summarily dismissed after pissing off a record number of people in a record amount of time.Did it ever occur to you that YOU are the one with a problem and the rest of the world is actually trying to go about its business?Mission Control to Alex: No one cares about your blog ramblings or the incredibly misguided chip on your shoulder with regard to traditional media or marketing communications strategies. You are not the smartest person in the world. You are not even the smartest person on this blog.Get over yourself, try to learn to work with others and move on.PS – Nobody gives a crap about your BMW. They are a dime a dozen and is a symbol of nothing more than your inability to afford anything better.

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