People Suck:  How to Make Sure Nobody Says That About You

With such a peppy and uplifting title to this debut article, I know what you’re thinking.  Well, I obviously don’t know what you’re thinking because that would be incredibly presumptuous and require, like, special powers.  But I’ll take a wicked guess that you might be wondering something along the lines of, “Who hurt this guy?”  You’re even possibly bracing for an imminent wave of negativity, filled with ranting, raving, venting, and blaming everyone else in the world for all of my problems.  But I’m happy to say that, if you are indeed having any of those thoughts, well, think again.  That’s not what this exposition is about – not even close.  I don’t have some contentiously cynical agenda to bum you out or an evil plot to push you into the Pit of Despair.

So, pull up a virtual chair and hear me out.  Believe it or not, what I’m about to say is an aspirational, if not promising, outlook on an otherwise bleak worldview.  It begins with us doing a little soul searching and acknowledging a large and jagged pill that might be extremely tough for many people to swallow.  Just to be safe, make sure you have a tall glass of water handy to wash down an extremely true, yet extremely unfortunate, reality.  Are you ready? 

Hmmm.  This is feeling like a situation that warrants some build-up.  Or there’s a hype-worthy proclamation sitting on the horizon, if you will.  As such, I find myself tempted to craft an eloquent analogy for the tough-pill-to-swallow reality bomb that I’m about to drop on you.  However, I think it’s probably best if I resist the urge and spare you of such self-indulgence.  With that, bombs away!

Human beings, as a species, are royal freakin’ pains in the assess.  Or, more simply put


How’d that sit with you?  My guess is that you had one of three reactions.  The first would be easy to understand.  You quickly decided that I’m a curmudgeon, party pooper, or the antithesis of a breath of fresh air.  If so, that’s totally understandable.  But I’ll push my luck by asking for some slack and an opportunity to change your mind.  

The second possibility is that reading the above declaration caused some teeth gnashing as you conjured images of an annoying coworker and their constant, undermining passive-aggressive behavior.  Or maybe you pictured a nosy neighbor who seems incapable of saying anything nice about anyone.  If your mind went directly to those wonderful folks, or a similar genre, you probably thought to yourself, “Right on!  Now, where did I put my pitchfork?”  

The third potential response would feel more like the aforementioned pill slightly lodged in your throat while thinking to yourself, “That might be true for everyone else but not me, no way!”  This, my friend, is probably the most common reaction, and the one most needing for us to delve further.  I hope you’re still sitting in that chair because there’s no delving time like the present.

Look, before we get too far down the road together, I think we should get something straight.  I don’t want there to be any misunderstanding between us.  When I say “people suck” I don’t mean that the art of sucking is exclusive to other people.  I’m putting it out there that everyone sucks.  All of us.  You, me, and our eight billion BFFs walking this planet with us.  The question isn’t whether we suck, it’s how much we suck.  Don’t believe me?  No surprise here.  Hold on tight as I attempt to prove it to you.  

Allow me to set the mood with a simple suggestion.  The now over-referenced pill that ain’t easy to swallow goes down much easier with the right mindset.  So, if you will indulge me, please try to resist the urge to fall into a state of denial.  Don’t allow your brain to entertain the idea that you are somehow exempt from what I’m articulating and my words only apply to everyone else out there.  Then, try opening your mind even more by leaning into this less-than-rosy-albeit-realistic view of humanity.  Go ahead.  Accept that all of us are flawed and guilty of stepping on the occasional toe, raining on a parade, rubbing another person the wrong way, or perhaps doing something really gross on someone’s corn flakes.  How’s it all resonating?  Probably a little uncomfortable and that’s OK.  Just like a new pair of shoes, wearing an untried view of ourselves might cause blisters until it’s broken-in.  But now that you are beginning to embrace this reality, and that pill is becoming more and more unstuck, let’s do something about it!

What Exactly Does it Mean to “Suck”?

Great question.  There are dictionary definitions for this term but, at best, they merely flirt with the context of this conversation.  Those definitions play only on the fringes of the behavior in which I am speaking.  Because of the significance this type of conduct plays in society, I think we’re dealing with a concept worthy of its own definition.  And, since human nature is involved, it should be scientific.  Let’s see if we can get our heads around how the science of sucking can be defined.  Here’s what I had in mind:

Suckology (noun):  The study of homo sapiens engaging in behavior causing other humans to say, “Man, I freakin’ hate people”, or similar expressions of intense displeasure.

Quick, somebody call Meriam-Webster!  I think we have a winner!

It would be easy – the path of least resistance – to simply write about how people exemplify that description and the many ways they do, in fact, suck.  I could even go all Colonel Jessup on you by rubbing this ideology in your face.

But trying to win an argument with my scary face (I have one) is not what I’ve set out to do.  No, this is an attempt to further bring my WHY to life.  Making a positive difference in the lives of people can get manifested in many ways.  I believe increasing self-awareness about our imperfections, including the fact that we all suck in some way, is a starting point to making a meaningful impact in the lives of people.

You see, pulling the pin on this grenade, handing it to you, and catching an Uber out of town would be a disservice.  That’s the equivalent of getting an incomplete grade on a homework assignment.  I’m holding firm in the belief that my “People Suck” mantra  is something more.  It goes a step further, potentially leading us to a place of betterment.  Or, in this case, working on ourselves to suck less.  It’s an approach subscribing to the fact that we live in a flawed world, filled with flawed people.  This is about the stuff that’s good within us.   Although the tone and language might seem counterintuitive, at first glance, I want to shine a bright light on what can make each of us great…or, at least, how to minimize our suckiness.  It’s a hopeful viewpoint of our shared existence on this planet.  However, the type of hope I’m offering has a caveat.  Hope, on its own, doesn’t do much of anything.  It just sits there, staring at us, waiting for something to happen.  I’m suggesting that we lean into what I’m preaching, lock arms, and take action.  In other words, we’re in this together and I want to lend a helping hand.

Hand Me That Mic, I’ll Go First

After all this justification, do you still think that I simply have some enormous axe to grind?  Looks like I might need to show you that I’m not merely some angry dude trying to take you down with me.  I must demonstrate my strong convictions around this philosophy that won’t win many popularity contests.  So, I shall put my money where my mouth is by walking the talk and saying something that needs to be said.  I kinda, sorta glazed over my confession a short while ago but it needs to be repeated.  Deep breath.  Ready, set, go…

I suck.  

I do.  I really do.  I’ll be the first to admit it, and saying so is liberating.  Heck, I’d even proudly sport a patch on my Tri-Lamb fraternity cardigan sweater.

I welcome you to free yourself and join me by announcing your own version of this admission.  Oh, and those of us willing to go there have news for the Perfect People.  There’s a lot more of us than there are of you (Yes, I just doubled down on paying homage to Revenge of the Nerds).

You want to say it, don’t you?  Don’t be scared.  Self-deprecation can be a powerful weapon in self-improvement.  Go for it.  Remember, you’re not alone.  

Furthermore, here’s the thing, and this is super important:  I once sucked much, much more than I do today.  

Uber-suckiness was a condition I battled for a long time. In all fairness, I had achieved my fair share of success professionally, plenty of friends wanted to hang out with me (for some reason that still escapes me), and I managed to function at a relatively high level – depending on who you ask.  But along the way, I became very self-aware of this personality flaw and the hindrances it was causing in different aspects of my life.  As I result, I decided to do something about it.  I can’t give you an exact reason why this epiphany transpired.  And I’m not 100% sure of the exact compelling event that served as the impetus for change.  Maybe it was a byproduct of getting older.  Maybe it was the aspiration of becoming the best husband and dad I could be. Or perhaps the journey of discovering my WHY played a role.  Quite possibly, it was a combination of all the above. Or maybe, just maybe, I became consciously aware that it was time to grow up and just be better.

Regardless, I started taking myself through a personal Disruptive Discovery process years ago, and that inner-facilitation continues to this day.  As a result, I can assuredly say that I suck less today than yesterday. And I am working on sucking even less tomorrow, getting myself to a continuously better place.  How’d I pull off this transformation-in-progress (again, depending on who you ask)?  What’s the plan to keep the momentum going?  These are the learnings I feel compelled to share with you.  Mind you, my take on this concept is not data-driven and the degrees hanging on my wall are a far cry from Ivy League.  I’m just a wannabe philosopher with a few decades of experience under my belt.  I dare say that the observations, painful lessons learned, cautionary tales, epiphanies, and other tidbits of knowledge that I’ve picked up have translated into some form of wisdom.  And I’d like to pass along whatever I can to anyone inclined to embark on an adventure.  Got your hiking boots laced up?  C’mon, follow me…

Getting Our Footing on a Slippery Slope

We hear these two words uttered all the time.  Say them with me…people suck.  And I’ll continue to ceaselessly profess that they often do live up to this well-deserved reputation.  Instead of standing on the sidelines complaining, thereby causing more harm than good, I’m doing my part by helping people become consciously aware of an undeniable blind spot:  If you’re saying this truism about other people, there’s a very good chance they’re saying it about you.  Stop and think about what I just said for a second.  Stings a bit, huh?

As a potential solution to this dilemma, I’m offering a guide written to enable potentially life-altering changes in how we conduct ourselves.  Such breakthroughs will be achieved through boosting self-awareness and looking at the different ways we suck, like it or not.  Once we shed some light on how our actions are perceived by others, the conversation proceeds into what can be done to stop doing the irritating things we do.  Practical suggestions will be, uh, suggested on how to gauge our level of suckiness and also keep track of improvements made with reducing the amount of sucking crimes we commit in those specific characteristics. 

With that in mind, I’ve been hard at work assembling a comprehensive list of the not-so-great ways we interact with others during our daily activities, leaving them no choice but to carry an attitude toward us that is anything but peachy.  And this busy bee felt the need to invent a catchy nickname for the conduct being characterized, and so I did:  Suckhavior.

Yeah, that’s right.  Suckhavior.  Just think “behavior” but with a crappy nuance.  Accumulating entries for this list has been a labor of love (intentional irony) spanning over a lifetime of observations and interpersonal encounters.  And now it’s time to set them free and cross my fingers that they do some good.  What you’re reading right now, assuming you haven’t jumped overboard, is the inaugural feature in a revolutionary series.  I’ll concede that’s being a tad overdramatic but, nonetheless, my plan is to publish a collection of future installments around this premise.  I’ve dubbed this collection People Suck:  How to Make Sure Nobody Says That About You.  An anthology of articles with each one tackling a specific manner in which people suckhave.  See what I did there?  Each edition would be a showcase of principles to differentiate yourself as an unsucky individual among the general population, thereby making it a paradoxical self-development platform.

Here’s a sneak peek of what you can expect with each installment:

  • A witty introduction (of course)
  • An explanation of why that particular Suckhavior poses a problem
  • A tool for measuring your own suckiness with this trait
  • Brilliant and insightful tips on how to suck less in that area
  • Tangible recommendations for application of these improved behaviors, or nonbehaviors

By reading each piece, you’ll be able to sleep better at night knowing that when you’re out and about the next day and hear someone utter, or shout, the phrase “People suck!”, they’re most likely not talking about you.  And just think of the newfound comforts you’ll enjoy knowing that others aren’t using our favorite four-letter word to describe you (or at least not as much as before).

At the risk of pushing the limits of boldness, I’ll once again presume that I have a hunch as to what’s on your mind?  It would be understandable for skepticism to have seeped into your brain, preventing you from wholeheartedly buying into this ideology.  After all, I just admitted to being an unapologetic suck-o-holic, so why take any life advice from me?  I get it.  But I’m also asking you to trust me in this context.  I sincerely believe that I can help make a positive difference for you.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t be wasting your time – or mine, for that matter.  In full disclosure, I can’t guarantee these reality-based perspectives will prove to help you in the same tangible way they have worked for me.  But I promise to do everything within my power to make this a worthwhile experience for both of us.  You dig?

Stuff That Matters Does NOT Suck

Speaking of waste, it’s one of my gabillion pet-peeves.  Truth be told, the thought of just about anything being wasted triggers a borderline OCD response from me, including time.  Certainly, you don’t want to see me breaking into a sweat or getting all twitchy, do you?  Do you?  Just checking.  Fortunately, these symptoms can be avoided by ensuring the time and mental energy you’re expending ultimately gets put to use.  Something needs to happen with what we’re kicking around together.  Otherwise, it’s all for naught.

There’s something I do at the end of any intended learning experience.  For lack of a fun or creative name, I’ll simply call it a litmus test.  And I believe it’s an assessment that should be performed at the conclusion of all activities claiming to help people in some way.  That’s clearly a long list but I think we all know some of the most common culprits:  meetings, presentations, conferences, books, and articles.  Keeping those popular endeavors in mind, the vetting exercise I’m advocating consists of asking critical questions.  I refer to such inquiries as questions that matter.  Depending on the circumstances, this process can be formal (such as a survey) or informal (internal reflection).  Either way, for my money, there’s only two questions that truly matter:

  • What did you learn?
  • What will you do differently with what you’ve learned?

I want to make sure that you walk out of here with answers to both questions.  Technically, you’ll be clicking out of here but that’s not the point.  Since my mind reading abilities are only so-so, I’m not able to answer them for you.  You’re on your own but I have complete faith that you’ll complete this homework assignment.  In the meantime, there’s no harm in me giving a nudge to get those wheels turning.  

With regard to tackling the question, “What did you learn?”, maybe this conversation has been an eye-opener.  People sucking is a reality, and not limited solely to other folks.  In addition, this actuality is not all doom and gloom.  A powerful takeaway could be that something can be done to lessen the suckiness within each of us.

For the follow-up query of “What will you do differently with what you’ve learned?”, that can get tricky.  It’s the transition from conceptual to behavioral.  Putting learnings into practice requires motivation, first and foremost.  But, more importantly, being motivated or having a desire to take action is worthless until something is actually done.  For the purpose of this article, I’d say that embracing and displaying self-awareness is a tremendous place to start.  Simply noticing situations and instances where you’re exhibiting suckiness can go a long way.  Observing these behaviors in other people and acknowledging them for what you now know to be true is also important.  Although, the problem with focusing on others is that what they do is completely out of your control.  I’m merely throwing out suggestions for how you can apply any learnings that have occurred.  And, as you can imagine, I have no shortage of suggestions.

A Disruptive Call to Action

Are you down with it?  I guess the better question is, “Are you up for it?”  Meaning I’m wondering how all of this is sitting with you.  Would you do anything with the learnings or insights that might result from such an endeavor?  And the rubber meeting the road would be you putting this platform into action with your family, friends, coworkers, or pet python (snakes absolutely suck, by the way).  If you’re not yet convinced, perhaps I could whet your appetite with a sneak peek at what’s on the horizon.  So, without further, further ado – since I probably already surpassed my ado quota a long time ago – let’s get this party started by spilling some beans with the Suckhavior that I have deemed worthy of taking center stage for the next article.  It’s one of my faves…

Suckhavior #1:  An Insatiable Need for Control  

I’m confident this teaser has left your appetite sufficiently whetted.  Wait a minute.  Isn’t that the same thing as being hungry?  Nevermind.  I’ll save my theories about ridiculously unnecessary sayings for another day.

Anyway, once this sucker gets published (pun absolutely intended), it can get sent directly to your inbox.  Just hit this to register for my Disruptive Thoughts newsletter, if you haven’t already done so.  Go on, it’s easy.  That’s the forum I’ll be using to launch articles in the future, not to mention a cool hangout for so much more difference making content.  And I’m not trying to trick you into yet another inbox-filling weekly subscription that I know you don’t read in the first place.  That’s not my bag and I promise to only push out newsletters when I have enough deep, impactful, and disruptive thoughts to send your way.

We’re creating a community of peeps who’d board this train.  And that’s where you come in.  No strings attached – maybe just a small thread or two – but I could really use your help with spreading the word.  To sweeten the pot, I’ll make a deal with you.  Do your part with bringing others to our happening club and I’ll keep doing my darnedest to create game-changing stuff that really matters.  Deal?  Just know that I’m ready to rock and roll.  We can get all buddy-buddy on this campaign.  Or should we call it a promotion?  A drive?  I know!  A crusade?  Nah, we’d need more political, religious, or societal juice for that word.  How about we keep things simple and just call this what it is…I’m issuing a challenge.  Up for it?  I’m counting on you!  And you can thank me later for not partaking in too much of a good thing.  I resisted the temptation to come up with another play on words using “suck” throughout this entire paragraph.  You’re welcome.

Consider this a rallying cry and I’m encouraging everyone to forward this article to others within their circles, networks, groups, or glee clubs.  If you know of fellow awesome individuals who would want to be part of what we’re cooking up together, pass it on.  

You have my word that doing so will be a big step in the right direction toward…

You know where I’m going here…

Do I really need to say it?…

Alright, alright.  Twist my arm…

Sucking less…

So that people don’t say that you do.

And a few other clicky things for a nice rush of dopamine that you’ll get by sharing on social media: FB Author page, LinkedIn profile  and Instagram page

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