Dear Miss Mannerly:
I don’t know why I’m getting so much criticism right now, and it’s really stressing me out. I am trying to get a BIG promotion --- REALLY big, as the job I want is REALLY important (and powerful) and right now I am unemployed, writing little stories in my journal to keep my head together, and traveling the country while living off a surprising amount of donations in addition to my family money, plus my wife’s, of course. To get this promotion, I really have to figure out, like, how to behave with people and make more of them LIKE me. LOTS more of them! It’s important!
The problem definitely isn’t a lack of charisma. I am told literally hundreds of times every day that I have a ton of charisma, so much of it that I don’t even know what to do with it all. Some people (my fans) call me a “rock star.” I believe them! They call me vibrant and authentic. The crowd goes wild! Somebody on TV even made reference to “Jesus Christ, Superstar.” I kid you not! I must be really something. Maybe it’s because I look a little like a Kennedy (if you squint), or because I’m tall and lanky and endearingly awkward and have a big, goofy, adorable smile.
I guess that’s all I have going for myself, really –- except, well, a LOT of money –- but that seems to be enough to make people take notice. (Somebody else who had this job till a couple of years ago got there on major charisma, too.) But still, I’m already getting some criticism, and I want this job so bad! I was BORN to go after this job! When I talk to a crowd, the most amazing words just pour out of me. You would not believe it, Miss Mannerly! I don’t know how this happens, but it just blows my mind.
But it seems like I have to apologize for a lot of things. For example, all I did was make one little joke in public, about my wife taking care of our three kids while I helped once in a while. Wow, the women did not like that, let me tell you! These are the women I need approval from to get this job, and some of them are so touchy. I mean, you can’t say ANYTHING. So I apologized for making the joke. I even remembered to toss in a reference to my “white privilege” (being a rich white male) to get a few brownie points with the ladies.
Women also got all bent out of shape because I made a video featuring myself and my wife in which she didn’t say anything at all, just watched me while I talked. Looking at it, I guess it is kind of creepy. Gosh, I think one of my advisers must have told her to do that, just to sit there and look at my ear while I talked to the camera, so she did. (She told me later I have a problem with ear wax, so now I carry Q-tips.) I guess she could have talked a little, but, trust me, you do NOT want to get her started. So, maybe she should have just waved “hello” and gone back to taking care of the kids or making dinner or something. Anyway, I apologized for that, too. I also have said I want to pick a woman for my next-in-line. Does that seem too pandering to you? I want to pander just the right amount.
Also, I use my hands a lot when I talk. It makes me look REALLY energetic (which is good), but some people make fun of that, too. I haven’t poked anybody’s eye out (so far) but my arms and fingers are really long, so should I go ahead and, like, apologize in advance for poking somebody’s eye out? It’s bound to happen.
Something else: people ask me a lot of questions that I don’t know the answers to. When I don’t have an answer, which is most of the time, should I just say, “I don’t know”? I’ve been doing that, but some people are already starting to notice how few solid answers I have. Maybe instead of saying “I don’t know,” I should automatically offer the opposite view from that of the person who holds the position now! Would that be better?
There’s more that has come up –- weird sh** from my youth –- but I won’t get into it. Needless to say, I have apologized for that, too.
Mostly I just want to get the job, because once I get it, I’ll have some on-the-job training. Mostly the media will want to take pictures of me and my family and ask softball questions for fawning interviews. I can handle that!
You know, some people are even criticizing me for the nickname I use. It was my nickname when I was a little boy, but I stopped using it many years ago, until I was advised to take it up again for professional reasons, so that’s what I did. So you could say it’s fake, but I’m going with it, anyway, mostly because this nickname is REALLY useful to me, in a particular way my real name is not!
But Miss Mannerly, I just don’t know how to use this "apology" thing! I want this powerful position, but I’m constantly having to apologize, which makes me look NOT powerful! Please advise!
Miss Mannerly wishes to inquire as to why you would want this very powerful position in the first place, as you do not seem at all suited for it. You give in constantly and follow others’ advice, when this job apparently requires someone who can lead, negotiate and answer questions with assurance. Perhaps instead of changing your public behavior, you might find a job that better suits your skills and personality. I hear the job market is very good right now.
If it’s just that you like to stand up and hear the words that come out of your mouth, there are many positions available to you. Since you are independently wealthy and don’t need to make money, you might try working in the theater. The other actors would like you because you could take them all out to eat, and maybe the troupe could perform some of your stories. You would have to learn to control your gestures, though.
Or you might have success as a motivational speaker. You do seem to have boundless energy and could inspire people with your exaggerated hand gestures. If you are musically inclined, Miss Mannerly suggests that you lead an orchestra; otherwise, that you become an abstract painter. Try using a brush in each hand and watch the magic happen.
One caution: Miss Mannerly does not recommend that you become a chef at Benihana. Or, come to think of it, a neurosurgeon.
You also seem well-suited to jobs that require travel, as you enjoy it, so you could “hit the road” as a salesperson. Tall people with charisma, energy and big smiles generally do well in sales. And your wife is already used to taking care of the kids while you are away.
This is a strange position you seek if the application process obligates you to apologize for being white. You may have some things to apologize for –- as do we all –- but Miss Mannerly can answer you with assurance that being white is not one of them. You also should not apologize for being male. The fact that this is expected of you makes me wonder why you would even want these people to like you. Be polite, be yourself (including your name), and, please, be something else.