Meeting Marc Wong from PSB Academy

Following up from the World Success Summit, organised by Rahul Shah and Jit Puru, as I talked about it in my previous post, I got to meet Marc Wong, who was one of the people in charge of student affairs and industry engagement.

I arranged a meeting with Marc and we are working towards a couple of collaborative projects, including a book corner for the staff and students of PSB Academy.

Well, I've put in my book for the worthy cause, and I'll be approaching more authors to contribute towards it.

With Marc - PSB Academy.jpg

Remus Zhong's Take On How To Deal With Difficult People

On Saturday, I spoke at the World Success Summit, held at PSB Academy City Campus. It was a well-thought-out affair, hosted in a beautiful venue.

Each of us speakers had 15 minutes to talk about his/her topic, all how-to topics, and the one given to me was ‘How to Deal With Difficult People’.

I thought I’d post what I had originally written. Obviously, having the P aspect of my personality (from the MBTI), I didn’t follow even my own script exactly. I am prone to impromptu deviations.

Nevertheless, here it is:

How to Deal With Difficult People Slide 01

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, we’ve had an excellent lunch.

Let’s get to the topic at hand – How to deal with Difficult People.

It so happens that I am the right person to talk to you about this, because of one reason. I am a difficult person.

Let’s talk about that.

What this means is that I am very certain of what I want and what I don’t want.

So, I live my life the way I want to and do the things I want, when I want, in the way that I want.

I write the rules in my book of life.

How to Deal With Difficult People Slide 02

Here’s the thing, though. I can’t just write anything. For example, I can’t have a rule that says, “When I’m angry, I punch somebody in the face.”

However, I can have a rule that says, “When I’m tired, I withdraw from ALL unnecessary social activities and obligations.

I am an introvert. I wrote a book about introversion called The Introvert Teacher. And I know that introverts need to be on their own – quiet time – in order to recharge. And I never apologise for taking that quiet time.

You don’t apologise for sleeping at night, right? This is no different. Rest comes in all shapes and forms.

So, if I’m tired, I will call up the organizer of an event I may have been supposed to attend, and I will explain that I won’t be attending because I don’t have the energy to be fun, or useful at the event.

Now, you are right to think that the organizer may get offended.

But that’s not my problem.

I am responsible for my own emotions, not the organiser’s. They are responsible for their own emotions. If they CHOOSE to be offended when I did not intentionally cause offense, then that’s not my issue.

Another rule in my book.

Picture3.jpgHow to Deal With Difficult People Slide 03

So let’s get back to this.

WHY are you having so much difficulty with so many difficult people?

How to Deal With Difficult People Slide 04

You see, we, especially because we are in Asia, we have been brought up with certain phrases:

“Smile more.”

“Think about others first.”

“Be nice.”

How to Deal With Difficult People Slide 05

Now, I’m not saying that these are BAD principles to live by. I am saying that these are problematic if you don’t know what to do with them.

Especially that last statement: Be Nice!

I put to you that a majority of your problems are there because you are TOO nice.

So, how do we deal with difficult people?

STOP being nice!

How to Deal With Difficult People Slide 06

Let me explain what I mean.

I’m not asking you to be mean, to shout at others, or to mistreat people.


I am asking you to stand up for yourself and your beliefs, to stand firm on your decisions, and not care about others’ opinions of you.

Your worth is not predicated on what other people think about you.

Your worth is based on your substance, on who you are.

Let me give you an example. My example.

I’m married. My wife is, unfortunately, not here today. She’s overseas.

My wife works with children with special needs.

You can imagine, then, that someone who does that will be a giving, compassionate person with a big heart. Do you think that someone like that will choose to live the rest of her life with someone who is selfish, arrogant, rude, unkind?

If you’ve met Rahul and Jit, organisers of today’s meeting, do you think that they would want to work with someone who is incompetent, abrasive, mean, uncaring, put him on a stage and allow him to speak to an audience that they have painstakingly invited to be here?

Well, ask them yourselves.

At the same time, I invite you to ask them 1 more question:

“Is Remus nice?”

And they will unhesitatingly tell you, “No.”

What I’m trying to say here is that you don’t have to be “Nice” in order to be generous, giving, selfless, kind, compassionate, or loving.

How to Deal With Difficult People Slide 07

Nice-ness is, after all, a social construct.

It’s a set of rules and guidelines put together by a few people to govern many. Society’s rules, so to speak.

Religion, sex, politics. Is it easy to talk about these things? No. They are divisive. And people don’t like to be divisive. They would rather be accepted and blend in. Most people, anyway.

So what happens? Misinformation. Disinformation. Anything but good information is spread further and faster.

Because no-one wants to rock the boat and talk about the hard stuff. Nobody wants to be the odd one out. Nobody wants to be ostracized.

And we all suffer as a result. Society suffers as a result.

Nice-ness is a disease.

It spreads and contaminates everything, turning everything into boring, bland, mundane things.

Go to any hawker centre and you will find 2, 3, 4 chicken rice stalls.

If I did a blind test on you, you probably won’t be able to tell the difference between any of these stalls. Boring.

Prices? The same. About $3.50. Nothing unusual.

But what if one of them does something different? What if one of them decides to use premium chicken flown all the way from Japan, with organic rice from a remote village in Cambodia, high quality ginger and garlic from Thailand, superb chilli from a special farm in Malaysia? What if that stall charcoal roasts the chicken, serves it with 8-hour-boiled soup, and serves it at the perfect temperature every time?

Is it going to still cost $3.50? Definitely not. It’ll cost much more. Let’s say twice as much. $7.

Now, obviously, they are going to lose customers who want to or have to only pay $3.50. But those who are willing to pay the $7 for such unusual quality, don’t you think they’d be better customers?

They’ll Instagram it, bring their friends, blog about it, talk about it. Because it’s different. It’s also harder to afford. But it’s good.

So why don’t chicken rice stalls do that?

Because they are afraid of sticking out, they don’t want to put in the extra effort, they just want to sail along.

Anything wrong with that? Of course not.

But they’ll always be un-remarkable.

Because they want to play nice and play safe and not spoil the market or do anything too different or attract negative comments from their family and friends.

Finally, I put to  you that Nice-ness is holding you back.

If you are a boss, an employer. And you are too nice, maybe that’s why your employees are walking all over you, coming in late, taking long breaks, being unproductive. Discipline them or fire them. Stop being nice!

If you are an employee. And you are too nice, maybe that’s why your colleagues are pushing their work to you, maybe that’s why your boss doesn’t respect you and keeps giving you extra duties. Learn to say no! Or quit! Either way. Stop being nice!

If you are a business owner, an entrepreneur, a freelancer. And you are too nice, maybe that’s why you keep getting paid late, your clients are hard to handle. Get rid of these problem clients. Fire them. Stop being nice!

I don’t have a lot of difficult people in my life. Because I got rid of them.

But to do that, I had to change. I had to become different. To some people, that’s the same as being difficult. I don’t care. I’m not nice.

How to Deal With Difficult People Slide 08

Quietly Leaving Your Mark: Personal Branding for Introverts

[To my fellow introverts:]

Like you, I struggle with the dilemma of deciding between being known and having a quiet, private life.

Note the present tense. I still do.

What I learned is this: 
In order to have the quiet, private life that I want, I must first be able to provide for it.

Yes, I’m talking about the 3rd most taboo subject: Money.

Let’s get real.

You need a fair bit of change to live in the most expensive city in the world (according to The Economist Intelligence Unit - EIU). As do I.

Prime opportunities go to those who are at the top of their field. If you’re not up there with them, you’re getting second-rate projects that they rejected or were never going to enter their field of vision anyway.

What that means for you is that you are fighting with a lot of people for very little gain.

Is that really how you want to live out the rest of your life?

This is my perspective.

I’m done being passed over for meaningful projects that I know I’ll be great at, which instead got handed to the loudest person in the room.

I’m tired of being treated as if I’m slow or invisible during unnecessarily raucous meetings and ‘brainstorming’ sessions.

I have had it with people wondering whether I’m good at what I do just because I take time to think rather than talk constantly and offer information they may or may not want.

This is why I built my personal brand around who I am and what I wish to achieve.

It required a lot of thought and a lot of work, but I am on my way to leading the life I want to lead. It’s going to be a journey, and I’m glad that I have friends along for the ride. (You guys know who you are!)

If this is a journey you have heard of but haven’t embarked upon, I encourage you to take the first step and start building your personal brand.

If you’re concerned that you don’t know what to do or which direction to head, it’s alright. You don’t have to go it alone. We can be your guides and show you the way.

Join me and my friend Eugene Seah on the 10th of July (it’s a Tuesday) from 7 pm to 10 pm at Synergy Hub @ 45 Middle Road #06-00, a mere 5 minute walk from Bugis MRT station.

I will be showing you how you, too, can quietly leave your mark on the world and those around you.

Quietly Leaving Your Mark.jpg

Arising New Misconceptions About Introversion

The impact of Susan Cain's book Quiet has been nothing short of impressive. Suddenly, introverts from around the world are proud of their identities.

However, as with all such shifts in thinking, new misconceptions have arisen.

With this newfound attention, especially through the media, introverts, who used to be viewed as 'weird' are now seen as 'cool'.

Perhaps in an attempt to seem like part of the 'cool' gang, many people have jumped on the bandwagon and declared themselves as introverts because they see themselves exhibiting certain stereotyped introverted behaviours, such as reading, taking time alone and being less-than-comfortable in social situations.

Of course, there are many other such stereotypically introverted behaviours, but let's for now focus on these three:

1) Reading

Reading is NOT the exclusive domain of introverts. I know plenty of extroverts who read - some of them, voraciously and I also know plenty of introverts who don't enjoy it at all.

This is a stereotype because reading is typically a solitary activity and concentration on the content is usually easier when it's quiet.

Nevertheless, enjoying a good book doesn't make you an introvert, and it certainly doesn't mean that you have to be an introvert to enjoy reading.

2) Taking Time Alone

Whether we are introverts or extroverts, we all need to take some time alone, be it to think, to re-focus, or simply to get away from it all.

Yes, introverts do generally need more time on our own because that's how we recharge so we have the energy to get through another hectic day. That said, we don't 'own' the alone-time space.

Just to clarify, we are all somewhere on the introversion-extroversion spectrum. Just because someone tends toward the extrovert side of the spectrum doesn't mean he/she has no introversion in his/her personality. There is no such thing as a 'pure' introvert or extrovert.

So go ahead and take time on your own. It really is the best way to clear your head and get things sorted.

3) Being Less-Than-Comfortable In Social Situations

Before you label yourself 'socially anxious' or 'socially awkward', try and figure out what exactly it is that makes you so uncomfortable about being in a social situation.

Are you concerned that nobody will find you interesting?

Well, then get yourself a quirky hobby. Also, figure out a new angle with which you can talk about what you do. This isn't about having a good elevator pitch. It's about seeing what another person may find interesting about what you find mundane.

Are you worried that you will get rejected by the people you try to talk to?

That's possible, of course. The good news is that many of them are worrying about the exact same thing and they will probably welcome your conversation, unless you are bad conversationalist or a terrible bore, in which case, you need to go brush up on your social skills. Attend a course and bring somebody along with you.

Are you, perhaps, afraid that you won't know what to do or what to say?

As above, brush up on your social skills. Learn to make small talk. As much as introverts hate it, it is a very powerful social lubricant. Also, practise introducing yourself with a twist so that others ask you questions. Then, you won't need to worry about what to say next, because you just have to answer their questions.

Remember that introverts and extroverts can suffer from social anxiety, which is based in fear, an emotion, not in personality.

Certainly, there are other misconceptions out there, but these are 3 of the most common ones that I've come across. If you have any to add or any questions to ask, feel free to drop me a message.

Red-eared Terrapin