While waiting for a guest to join me at my lunch table in a busy Brussels restaurant last week, I overheard a person at an adjoining table say “some scientists have unpleasant personalities, you just have to live with it.  They’re obsessive; it’s all they think about.”  From what I could hear, I was pretty sure the couple engrossed in the conversation were both academics, most likely scientists. This got me wondering.  We all have unpleasant personalities to a greater or lesser extent but does being a scientist, engineer, artist, CEO or whatever we are in anyway excuse it?

From many psychologists we can learn that one’s personality is pretty well fixed, but behavior not. Therefore (and I can testify for this) significant behavior pattern changes (‘improvements’) can be witnessed in the work place, assuming the person in question sees a benefit.

I do not like the idea of excusing unacceptable behavior, not even on the grounds of the person being a genius, or even a scientist!  On the other hand, we do not all need to be smooth talking socialites either. Surely an acceptable balance needs to be established and maintained, too far in either direction and we have a problem?  

So here’s this week’s dilemma: if some of the genius’s of this world can only come up with extraordinary achievements that could benefit the whole of mankind, by being objectionable; possibly with bullying, obsessive or even just anti-social behavior, do we still have to put up with them?

Have a good week,

Harley