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The art of eating humble pie.


Yeah…Wesley said that here. Today I want to talk about the art of eating humble pie.

Recently, due to my work with La Belle Couture, I’d been in an extremely privileged position where I have the opportunity to interview many respected business folks in the Singaporean bridal industry. I really love the team at La Belle, because every time I drop by the bridal boutique all I see and feel is the passion and commitment towards couples. I just know with a quiet sense of confidence that all couples who go to La Belle will be in good hands.

Now, we all know that whenever it comes to a business as sensitive and thoughtful as “weddings”, people involved tend to get emotional. Not only them, but their friends, their not-so-true-friends, their relatives, their families: ALL get emotional. Therefore, disputes that arise–if any– are usually based more on emotional, rather than logical foundations.

So when you do business with clients who approach you on emotional AND practical grounds, it’s important to know how to spot emotional baggages. Unsurprisingly, one thing the reputable wedding vendors ALL have in common is that their emotional quotient is amazingly high. So you know, at the end of each interview, I’d be curiously asking them on how to deal with certain tricky issues in life.

And this post is an attempt to articulate and crystallise my thoughts:

What is eating humble pie?

Urban dictionary defines it as such:

“To be forced to apologise OR to admit a fault.”

…and may I add–even when you are 100% right + 100% wronged, you can still eat humble pie with grace.

Why do people eat humble pie?

I think there are largely two reasons:

  • One, they want to protect or maintain relationships–Because they like you, can empathise with your various emotional baggages and see how vulnerable you are. For the ease of analysis, let’s assume that the monetary element is not too strong a consideration in this first case.

E.G. Spousal relationships. Couples often need to take turns to eat humble pie to maintain a marriage. Friendships as well–you can always eat humble pie when you value a friendship.

  • Two, there is an existing underlying monetary relationship–They may or may not like you. Sometimes they might even think that you’re a jerk or an asshole, but because they are working under you and you are paying them, they choose to suck all nonsense up. Not because you’re very magnificent, but because they are thinking of paying the bills and the wellbeing of their families.

E.G. Jerk boss/ asshole clients who exploit like hell and whom everyone hates.

Personally, I’m very bad at eating humble pie when there is no sufficient logical grounds to do so.

My view is always this: I do my best in my work, and if you don’t like it and the concerns are reasonable, I’m OK with admitting faults. But if people pick on my work on non-logical grounds (e.g. the case when I’m being used as a pawn on a political chess board), then I will not eat humble pie.

I also have a tendency to think that people who ALWAYS eat humble pie are simply spineless. I think sometimes–if not most of the time– everyone should learn to defend their own vision, stance, or work.

But you see, the problem with not eating humble pie, of course, is that you run the risk of not getting the business, or not getting paid. So you see, that’s a problem, because sometimes the work is already done and clients are simply being unreasonable.

So I’d always wondered how I can eat more humble pie, because over the years I’d shut off some personal and beneficial monetary relationships simply because I cannot be bothered to deal with all these nonsense.

And I believe I’d found the answer after talking to so many wise bridal vendors:

Eating humble pie is an art because it empowers you to map out the other party’s areas of emotional baggages.

I’d previously written about the art of acting dumb, and one of the benefits that I listed is that whenever you act dumb, you can map out what the other party knows, or don’t know, and this is very good information to have.

It’s the same thing here. Every time you eat humble pie, you can actually map out the other party’s emotional baggages. Actually, it’s very easy to identify a person’s various emotional baggage if you can map out his/her alternative response choices.

For example, you can:

  • Compare current (emotional) response with a hypothetical situation whereby people act according to logic and best interests. For example, let’s say in a business setting, you’re just 1 week away from reaching a very profitable deal. Then this bitch partner at the last minute throws a tantrum for no reason and threatens to pull out or destroy the project. The reason cited could be something like maybe she wants a bigger cut, because she feels that her marriage failed due to her excessive work on this project.

To you, you’re like “????? Didn’t we put in equal effort? Didn’t I also sacrifice family time?”

So you see, in this case, the logical response would be to point out to the business partner that it is illogical to bring in her emotional baggages and spoil the whole deal. If the business partner is logical, he/she would apologise for that emotional moment. Then you can bring him/her out for tea and console him/her.

However, if the business partner still goes on to threaten to spoil the deal due to this reason and forces the relationship into a lose-lose situation, then you know how much he/she values the failed marriage. 

And you also know how much she values you, but for some reasons expectations towards you fail. So in this case, the unspoken expectation is that “I would have expected you to protect me from a failed marriage. When I started the project with you, I never expected that this is the true price I had to pay–to see the reality that my marriage is already in crumbles and that this project would be the catalyst.”

So you see, considering the possibility of pointing out your own fault can ALSO allow you to map out what a person’s heart– what he/she considers as important, or not important. Whenever you catch a good glimpse of someone’s emotional baggages, it usually also implies privilege, because normal people don’t get hurt by what strangers do.

There should be trust involved, and unmet expectations.

Actually, I believe that the above case can be settled in a friendly manner, because it’s about managing expectations. As I said, there is still trust involved. What is sometimes very tricky to settle are cases that are literally from hell.

These are cases where you are used as a political pawn. So it’s literally nothing about you anymore, but everything about underlying conflict of interests. 

For such cases I feel, there is no solution but in the first place to avoid those context. If however, one is found in such contexts, then be prepared to eat a lot of humble pie.

So how do we eat more humble pie? Mentalities as follow:

  • Option A: Suck it up and eat humble pie entirely for money;
  • Option B: Try to make both parties sincerely like you. This is difficult sometimes when severe issues of emotional baggages such as narcissism or severe pride is involved, and sometimes these different emotional baggages from all parties involved stem from severely unresolved childhoods;
  • Option C: Seriously admit your very bad luck, eat humble pie and thereafter cut all ties. Optional if you want to wreck more damage before eating the pie;
  • Option D: Eat humble pie and maintain relationships with both parties, even though you’re the biggest victim in this case. Once again, it’s optional if you want to wreck more damage before eating the pie.

Option D obviously is the most logical. And why can’t people do it? It’s because all parties have their own emotional baggages.

And sometimes, logically speaking, you’re not even in the wrong…!

But if we were to consider that every time you eat a humble pie, you can map out the person’s emotional baggages, then it’s a benefit to you to eat it.😀 Because by admitting to a fault (regardless of relevance), you can actually do a person’s emotional profiling by watching how the person respond to your humble pie eating.

And that’s a confirmation of a hypothesis– and from the emotional profiling, you can profile strengths and weaknesses too. Haha!🙂

So please watch me eat more humble pie from now onwards. Because right now? I’d found a strong and logical reason to do so.

And NOW, that’s illuminating and indicative of a chosen long-term relationship.

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