You’ve Got to Look Past the Fluff of a French Poodle

Kelci never, and I mean never, leaves her house until her makeup and hair are perfectly done. Her excuse is, “Someone might see me.” But what she really means is, “Everyone better notice me!”

Tammy’s elaborate clothes and thirty pairs of shoes are designer name brand. For her there is no such thing as dressing down or casuallly.  She stands out in a crowd like a peacock in a pen full of chickens.

Carlos’s method of drawing attention to himself is his expensive cologne.  It’s the first thing he puts on every morning, plus an extra soaking if he goes out in the evening.  A cloud of aroma surrounds him and extends thirty feet in every direction.

You can always hear Matthew before you see him. His voice booms even in casual conversation.  You usually walk away from him wishing you had stuck your fingers in your ears in order to prevent hearing loss.  Even his laugh is inordinately loud.

All these people fit into the difficult people category I call “French Poodles.”  They have an overinflated sense of self and pretend to know everything about everything.  They differ from the Lion in that the Lion really believes he does know everything about everything, while the Poodle knows they don’t, but they try to fake it.

So how should you deal with a Poodle?  Try these tips:

  • Avoid the temptation to burst the bubble of their overinflated view of self.  Everything in you screams that you should take a straight pin and stick it in them in order to bring them back to reality.  Unfortunately that would say more about you being mean spirited than it would anything else.  Plus, contrary to how they project themselves, these folks are very insecure and have fragile egos.  Taking a bulldozer to run over the false self they’ve crafted to protect themselves could do them great harm.
  • When they make a serious misstep and you sense they realize they’ve made a fool of themselves, try to provide a means for them to save face.  That doesn’t mean you agree with anything they said or that you want to enable their behavior.  But it’s possible that you will earn their trust and respect by your move, thus giving you an opportunity later to have an honest conversation about their behavior.  You must resist the urge to humiliate them.
  • Work hard to identify and recognize their talents, especially the underutilized ones, and lead them to activities that test these talents.  Yes, you may have to look really hard past their irritating traits to find their gifts, but keep looking because they are there.  Give them opportunities to use these neglected talents.  In this way you enhance strengths while ignoring faults.  This is a great tactic for improving anyone’s behavior, including your own.

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