Our Entitlement

Lesson 3: Topic 4 of 19

And here’s a secret: everyone deals with entitlement, to some degree or another. Emotionally healthy people throttle it back; unhealthy people give free reign to it. And not every seemingly inappropriate attitude can be attributed to entitlement, so be careful about judging when seeing someone in a position of privilege or status. A staff contest offering a prize, for example, or an employment contract stipulating a raise, will have conditions (i.e., meet a certain sales goal, remain employed past a specified period); if those conditions are met, then the benefit genuinely is owed. Expecting to receive what one has earned is not entitlement. 

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On what other occasions might someone not be exhibiting entitlement? An employee who’s stressed out because he or she lacks critical job skills may or may not be demanding deference and preferential treatment; additional training may be all that is needed to see performance improvement and a better attitude. A person who lacks clarity about work expectations may simply need a concise, clearly written job description. A staff member who has family or health circumstances beyond his control just  may be overwhelmed and in need of grace and more flexibility. But when proper pre-employment vetting has taken place, job expectations are clear, and life is relatively normal, good performance should be expected. If that’s not happening, look out for the special treatment or low accountability attitude in that staffer. 

Entitlement is more than just an attitude that I need or am owed or deserve something. Reliably, someone refusing to deal with their own sense of entitlement will also cling to a belief that they are special or exceptional, don’t need to accept responsibility for their actions, and deny they are negatively impacting everyone else. In the case of Fred the nurse, he might have fared better had he understood this warning from marketing expert Seth Godin: 

“An attitude of entitlement doesn’t increase the chances you’ll get what you want. And it ruins the joy of the things you do get. Win or lose, you lose.”

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