Analytic Vision

About My Excessive Formalism & the So-Called “Lack of Empathy”

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 13/05/2013

I am processing the results from half a year ago’s 2012 360 degrees evaluation for personal branding & development. I have decided to approach the issue of the most visible and criticized weakness that I have: the formalism I use to screen people. First of all, I want to mention an important aspect. My mother gave me an Austrian education, which came from her grandfather, a man who lived and worked in USA and Austria for a long time of his life and got a lot of the Western spirit into his character. So there is an educational aspect to this history which cannot be un-done. I don not see in this such a big problem as most Romanians do, because this is part of who I am. I don’t have a latin character, but more of a German one – even if I don’t know German, I don’t have any German relatives or friends and I have never been to Austria.

I also have to declare empathy as one of my biggest successes and in the same time as one of my biggest failures for the past year. Why? Well, because, in 2012, empathy as a strength came on the 4th place in top positive aspects (from the 8th place, mind you!) and lack of empathy as a weakness has reached a new absolute record: the 1st place with the highest score for a weakness, in all the 7 years I have been doing this evaluation for (with almost twice the points from 2011).

As this article deals with the weakness and the previous one dealt with strengths, I will concentrate more on this aspect. So, people had quite a lot to say about me, as this seems to most people the most relevant weakness (and, not only by account of the Romanians, but also by the account of several Nordic people).

All of these impressions center around the way to relate with others. Over the past 7 years while I have been doing this 360 degrees evaluation, more than 100 different people noticed this among their top 4 observations about me. Their formulations ranged among these (I have marked what they said in 2012, too):

  1. insufficient empathy; no emotion recognition; lack of attention to other’s (non-)verbalreactions; not taking the pulse of the rapport; lack of presence; lack of attention to people and things around; artificial listening.

  2. insufficient sociability/interactivity/relating/interpersonal communication; communication problems with people; social distance; coldness; not building/sustaining a social environmentthrough relationships;

  3. (excessive) Impersonal formalism in clothing/appearance/talking/writing; lack of authenticity; falsity in networking; plastic smile; superficiality; lack of straight answers;

  4. not expressing/displaying/caring about thoughts/opinions/emotions/feelings; autism; poker face;

  5. lack of balance (or unappropriated mix) between personal and professional life/too preoccupied/focused with professional life & books/no time for self/no respect for my own time for self; not caring/thinking enough about self/soul; keeping relationships professional; too much professional (theory) in personal life;

  6. too much (scientific) calculation; “Scientific businessman”; equation vision over the world and people;

  7. too busy; too much (strict) schedule/planning; too stressed by the “to do list”; not allowing new experiences, not living the moment & having fun;

  8. lack of spontaneity/enthusiasm/humor/passion/energy/activity; too much/ excessive seriousness;

  9. excessive intelligence/reason/cerebrality;

  10. superficiality;

  11. excessive task orientation (even in networking); low team-spirit;

Let’s take them one by one.

1. insufficientempathy; no emotion recognition; lack of attention to other’s (non-)verbalreactions; not taking the pulse of the rapport; lack of presence; lack of attention to people and things around; artificial listening.

In NLP terms, I have a “New York style of pacing & leading”: lead, lead, lead, pace. In fact, I can be very attentive at other people’s reactions, but I don’t show it or I don’t care. Some people feel unheard. This is OK for me. Sometimes, I hear them, but I just don’t let them know.

2. insufficient sociability/interactivity/relating/interpersonal communication; communication problems with people; social distance; coldness; not building/sustaining a social environmentthrough relationships;

This is simply not true. I have lots of friends. Actually, each year I have more and more friends. But I can’t be friends with everybody. I don’t have time to maintain relationships with hundreds of people – and, believe me, I meet A LOT of people every month.

3. (excessive) Impersonal formalism in clothing/appearance/talking/writing; lack of authenticity; falsity in networking; plastic smile; superficiality; lack of straight answers;

That’s just great, it means I would be a very good politician/spokesman.

4. not expressing/displaying/caring about thoughts/opinions/emotions/feelings; autism; poker face;

Very true – I find it very useful in negotiation. When do I negotiate? Uhm… let’s see… almost all the time. Case closed.

5. lack of balance (or unappropriated mix) between personal and professional life/too preoccupied/focused with professional life & books/no time for self/no respect for my own time for self; not caring/thinking enough about self/soul; keeping relationships professional; too much professional (theory) in personal life; excessive task orientation (even in networking); low team-spirit;

This comes with being a freelancer working on my own 24/7 and not an employee working in a team from 9 till 5.

  1. too much (scientific) calculation; “Scientific businessman”; equation vision over the world and people;

It goes with the fact that I seriously studied psychometrics.

7. too busy; too much (strict) schedule/planning; too stressed by the “to do list”; not allowing new experiences, not living the moment & having fun;

This is true, it is because of my insufficient organisation, that I waste so much time that I end up being stressed by the “to do list”. This perception is not the result of doing too MUCH planning, but the result of doing inefficient planning – which, unfortunately, is my case.

8. lack of spontaneity/enthusiasm/humor/passion/energy/activity;

This is also not true. Since 2009, enthusiasm and proactivity has constantly been in my top 5 first positive attributes. As for spontaneity, I can be quite impredictable and create surprises, but that doesn’t necessarely mean people will like me for it. The people like the surprises they appreciate. The surprises they don’t appreciate are called “probems”. I take my passion and I use it in significant issues I need to solve with seriousness.

9. excessive intelligence/reason/cerebrality;

This is because my intellectual intelligence is higher than my emotional intelligence and it has always been one of my strongest points.

10. Superficiality.

Some people consider as a weak point of mine superficiality. That may be because I don’t like to insist on some details, but I concentrate more on other details. Generally, I have a good attention on details, but not on all details. In any communication, I must know what my target is. Sometimes, I don’t want to get in very deep in a certain subject, or I merely scratch the surface, but that is just because that is the level of depth I want to reach with that subject. I go in more depth with other subjects.

In conclusion, I accept this as a part of myself. I cannot make it disappear, I don’t want to make it disappear, I don’t want to change it, I don’t want to hide it. I want people around me to understand it. This is the reason why this is a very important article for me. I know that I’m not appropriate or easily adaptable in the Romanian society. I don’t plan on staying the rest of my life in Romania. My place is not here, it is somewhere in the Western Europe.

I hope this article explains a lot of things about me and answers some of the questions many people have (had) about me.

If you liked this article, please also read:

4 +, 4 – (14.01.2012)

Personal Development Goals in 2012 (08.03.2012)

Cine eşti tu şi cum te vezi în oglindă (15.05.2011)

My Personal Development Goals Evaluation For 2012 (30/03/2013)


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6 Responses to “About My Excessive Formalism & the So-Called “Lack of Empathy””

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