BITE ME: the snob

don't ask why. ask why not.

BITE ME: the snob

Bite Me is a special 12-installment series based on an undercover stint at a supermarket to draw out lessons on how to better relate to challenging colleagues in the workplace and how to be a better colleague.

These “profiles” are based on real customers who wanted free samples of food.

It’s cheeky and deliciously honest.

These “profiles” are based on real people who wanted free food.

It’s cheeky and deliciously honest.

To read the others:
The Humble
The A-Hole
The Slob
The Negative


The Snob
watch your attitude

The Personality

The Snob’s nose is every turned up slightly, pinched in on the sides, as if walking into a supermarket is the only pedestrian thing he would think about doing without sending his manservant.

He walks to me, one eyebrow arches, “and what are YOU cooking for me today?” as if I were his personal chef. I bite my lip and gamely smile and hand him a sample of a soy nugget. The Snob eats it, ruminates in his mouth as if he is tasting a 1962 Chardonnay. He tells me about how the soybeans handpicked by monkeys at the Iwatayama Monkey Park in Kyoto and washed by virgins were so much better than what I just served him. After all, he would know, he just came back from a month-long retreat there.

I smile and tell him if he really wants to try good soybeans, he should venture to Xi’an with its influences from the Hui and Arabic merchants. He raises his eyebrows, this time in complete surprise that: 1) I can speak; and 2) I sound like I’ve traveled. I have confounded his understanding of the world: Sample Ladies at the supermarket are not supposed to be conversant in such things.

He tells me that he traveled to China during his days as an undergraduate at the prestigious university X before he went onto prestigious law school Y. I up the ante and tell him my prestigious university X, Y, and Z. I’ve blown his mind – a Sample Lady with an education? He looks at me in utter surprise, “what in the world are YOU doing here?” He thinks he’s being gracious. I think he’s pretty condescending.

It’s Not Me, It’s You….

In the office, the Snob is always the first to talk about where he went to school, the yacht he “has to” put in the water every spring, and all the fabulous adventures he has taken around the world. He dresses like he’s in competition for the How to Overkill the Brand Fashion Name Look catalog.

He tries to schmooze his way into the boss’s good graces and looks down on anyone who didn’t attend a university on the “level” of his. The Snob doesn’t find it necessary to talk to anyone who doesn’t share his pedigree, including the administrative staff. His well-packaged façade starts to fall apart, uncovering a lack of substance, ability, or laziness.

  • Ignore. The Snob loves the attention. Simply ignoring him can deprive him of the audience he so badly wants – and without an audience, his ability to show off is reduced.
  • Bring it back to the substance. If you notice that the Slob is trying to evade the work with a lot of flash, bring it back to the content and work at hand. Politely and firmly redirect the conversation back to the topic at hand – not him.
  • Don’t compare. It’s easy to get caught up in the game  and try and one-up him. Don’t. Don’t compare yourself, or wonder why his Black Mercedes is shinier than your Honda Accord. Be confident with what you bring to the table.
  • Dig deep. Sometimes the Snob just wants to be loved, but has become accustomed to others befriending him for what he has, not what he offers. Dig deeper and try and get to the person behind the flash. You may be surprised.

It’s Me…

  • Back it up. No one likes the big talker in the office. While you may fool a few people, pretty soon, if you don’t back up your image with hard work, ability, and willingness to learn, people will see that you don’t hold your weight.
  • Substance and style. Being well groomed and mannered is undoubtedly important in the workplace. Impress in presentation and in the way you act towards others.
  • Check your attitude. Watch how you come across to others in the office. Do you always have your nose in the air? Do you show disdain at something or someone you think is “beneath” you? Others in the office take notice about you comport yourself and how you act in the office.
  • Pedigree is for show dogs. Leverage your networks, rather than showing off about where you went to school or how much money your family has. It just turns people off.
  • Don’t brag. You may have just won an important contract or raised sales by 20%. These are all wonderful accomplishments that you should be proud of and take credit for. Let your work do the talking, not you.

Don’t hide behind image as a way to prove you are better than others. In the office, attitude plays a huge role in how successful you can be and if you alienate your colleagues, your superiors, your reports, you can almost guarantee that your pedigree will not help your 360 feedback.

People pay attention to how you behave and treat other people. Being solely focused on your image and pedigree – and caring only about other’s images and pedigrees – will quickly lose its shiny exterior.