The implication of Ms. Truman’s sentiment is that people are likable from a distance. Get closer, and their flaws and irritating qualities come into bold relief.
It’s true of you and it’s true of me. Pretty much everybody, really. The more you get to know somebody, the easier it is to find their imperfections.
No surprise so far, right?
When faced with the blemishes of others, we have a choice.
We can use the pocks of others as little hooks upon which to hang our condescension—a perch from which to look down on them as inferior.
We can understand that we’re brimming with tiny little annoyances just like everybody else.
This is harder than it sounds, especially if you’re out there trying to establish yourself as an authority. The quickest and easiest way to make yourself look good is by comparing yourself to somebody that maybe... ain’t as awesome.
Without much effort, you can probably make a mental list of people who are famous because they are really good at making other people look stupid.
Resist this urge to be like this.
I can attribute more than a little of my own modest success in this area to simply not being a dick.
This doesn’t mean you can’t hold strong, even controversial opinions. You absolutely can (and should).
The reality is this: being generally pleasant covers a multitude of sins. I’ve gotten away with oodles of potentially offensive stuff by maintaining a congenial demeanor.
I’m not saying pretend to be agreeable. Be agreeable.
You may not get as much attention, but believe me when I say that life is far better when a hundred people truly like you than when thousands of tune in just to see who you’ll verbally eviscerate next.