There are individuals whose sensibilities and reluctance to cause offense can seriously damage their chances of making the best of any situation. I am reminded of an event in history when the Kingdom of Postonia got embroiled in an unfortunate war with its larger neighbour over some awkward misunderstanding concerning the reliability of railway timetables.
As sometimes happens during conflicts, the two armies were assembled, and by some odd chance, the Postonian Army, much smaller than the opposing forces, arrived at the battlefield very early in the morning while the enemy was still asleep. An opportunistic Colonel whispered in the ear of his commanding officer, “Let’s attack them now, while they are still asleep: they won’t know what’s hit them,” “I don’t think so”, said the general. “It would be uncouth, at best, to attack an enemy before they have a chance to wash and put on their uniforms.”
Needless to say, the Colonel was stunned by his commanding officer’s response, and sure enough, their army was destroyed in the ensuing melee: Postonia vanished from the history books. The General, ever helpful by all accounts, with a developing reputation in the world of Orchids, was stabbed to death by an enemy soldier as he asked him if he realised his jacket was not buttoned up correctly !
Moving forward to the driven modern job market, we drift into an interview room where a gifted university graduate is seeking his first position at a pharmaceutical company. “OK tell me Geoffrey, what qualities do you feel you can bring to this post” the candidate is asked. There is a brief pause before he replies. “I don’t think it’s really for me to say sir.”
“Pardon”, says the startled interviewer. “This is an interview dammit. You’re meant to put your best foot forward”. “I quite understand”, says poor Geoffrey, ” And I have no wish to offend,but I wouldn’t like to unfairly influence you one way or the other”. Needless to say, regardless of his excellent qualifications, he fails to get the job.
Of course, care must be taken not to veer too far in the other direction. Back to the interview and Geoffrey is asked, “What qualities do you feel you can bring to this post”. Geoffrey leans forward and says, “Shut it Mister. I start on Monday, and don’t fob me off with a desk at the back of the office”.
Apparently he conducts the rest of his interview in the company of security guards while being guided to a new position on the pavement, or sidewalk depending on the location of your exit.