Dealing with Loathsome People

Posted on May 27, 2014 by Robert Ringer

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I was talking to a friend (“Bill”) a few weeks ago, and in the course of our conversation he happened to mention something about the business troubles Dexter Windbag (pseudonym) had encountered in recent years.  I had no idea the guy was still alive, and had no interest in hearing about his troubles.

Nevertheless, my friend proceeded to tell me how Windbag had been ousted as a director and spokesman for a multi-level marketing company for misstating his academic credentials.  In Windbag’s official bio, which he used to rise to the top of the professional speaking world, he claimed to have both a master’s degree and a Ph.D.  However, investigators apparently found that the school from which he claimed to have acquired his master’s degree had no record of him ever attending that school.

Further, the university from which he claimed to have a Ph.D. was unaccredited, and had closed down after only sixteen years of existence.  Conveniently, the former president of the university claims that Windbag’s records have been lost, and Windbag himself says that he doesn’t have a copy of his doctoral dissertation.

Why was my friend telling me all this?  Because clear back in the 1970s, Bill, who also was a professional speaker, had called me one day and asked if I had heard what Dexter Windbag had said about me on his new audio album.  I told him that not only had I not heard it, I didn’t even know who Dexter Windbag was.

Whereupon Bill informed me that Windbag was a highly successful professional speaker with a squeaky clean image.  His credentials were impeccable — former military officer, high-level education credentials, and lots of big-name endorsements.

Bill volunteered to send me the audio tape that contained Dexter Windbag’s remarks about me and my first book, Winning Through Intimidation.  If it were today, I wouldn’t even bother to listen to it, but at the time I was a newly minted bestselling author, and my curiosity/annoyance factor got the best of me — curious as to why a supposedly highly respected man, who made his living preaching about such qualities as virtue, character, morality, and integrity, would say anything negative about someone he had never even met.

When the tape arrived, I put it in my Sony cassette player and began listening to it.  The first thing that surprised me was that Windbag, notwithstanding his reputation as a big-time professional speaker, was not even an average speaker.  I clearly recall how surprised I was by that.  (In a later article, I’ll address the phenomenon of how low-skilled, untalented people sometimes stumble into situations that lead to their becoming accidents of history.  It’s a kind of randomness, and it occurs more often than most people realize.)

After listening to the tape for ten minutes or so, from out of nowhere — Bam! — Dexter Windbag, the epitome of virtuousness, suddenly blurted out my name and the title of my book.  Even though Bill had told me about it, it still took me aback.  It was a very long time ago, so I can’t recall Dexter Windbag’s exact words, but I sure remember the sum and substance of what he said, and here’s a close paraphrase:

“Can you imagine someone writing a book with a title like Winning Through Intimidation?  What kind of person would promote the idea that the way to get ahead in life is to bully others?”  (Again, this is a paraphrase; the quote marks are only for the purpose of setting it off.)

Obviously, Dexter hadn’t read my book, but I had already gotten used to critics taking shots at me without even going to the trouble of actually reading my words.  But this guy wasn’t a critic.  He was a motivational speaker who had clearly succeeding in creating an image of his integrity being beyond reproach.  Yet here he was, this paragon of virtue, using my good name and work to puff up his own image by feigning disgust and outrage.  My first thought was, “Who in the hell is this self-righteous jerk?”

I would be inclined to say that it was just a matter of jealousy, but I think it was even worse than that.  My theory is that people like this are so narcissistic that they will do anything to pump up their egos — whether it’s lying about their credentials or lying about a person they don’t know or a book they’ve never read.

Unfortunately, Dexter Windbag is not alone.  There are a lot of self-important people in this world who not only will do anything to feed their narcissistic appetites, they also come to believe their own B.S. to such an extreme that they live in an alternate universe.  I have a hunch I’m on pretty safe ground if I assume that you’ve known more than one Dexter Windbag in your time.

You might think that I’m smiling at his fall from grace, but I’m not.  I’ve been around too long for things like this to surprise me.  On the contrary, being the kind-hearted soul that I am, I have the utmost sympathy for people who are afflicted with serious diseases.

Specifically, in Dexter’s case, I’m talking about the dreaded ANEL Disease — ANEL being an acronym for arrogance, narcissism, egomania, and lying.  ANEL-afflicted people are almost as dangerous as serial killers, because their self-love gives them the justification for resorting to anything that will further their insatiable appetites for self-aggrandizement.

David Ogilvy, “The Father of Advertising,” once gave the best advice I know of when it comes to handling people afflicted with ANEL Disease when he said (pardon my slight customization of his words), “When a man boasts about his integrity, or a woman about her virtue, avoid the former and cultivate the latter.”

Thoreau put it even more succinctly when he proclaimed, “There are nine hundred and ninety-nine patrons of virtue to one virtuous man.”

And, finally, Ringer said:  “Ignore annoying people, move on with your life, and leave it to nature to straighten everything out over the long term.”

Robert Ringer

+Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

33 responses to “Dealing with Loathsome People”

  1. Murray Suid says:

    This is a memorable essay, true and witty, although my wife said that Ogilvy's quote was sexist–funny but sexist. The piece is also very helpful.

    One point to consider: There are arrogant, narcissistic, and dangerous folks who actually do have the credentials that they claim. Mr. Windbag might have had that doctorate and yet been thoroughly loathsome. I've encountered such people. Of course, Mr. Ringer's sage advice would work exactly as well with them.

    • Robert Ringer RJR says:

      No question about it. Loathsome people can be found almost anywhere. The challenge is to avoid them.

      • DOL says:

        THE ABSOLUTE WORST IS HAVING ONE IN THE FAMILY. THEY ARE ALWAYS THE ONE WITH THE BIGGEST MOUTH AND NO BRAINS.

      • Mike Miller says:

        Great article. Even without the clue of his intials, it wasn't hard to find the identity of Dexter Windbag through the magic of Google. Thanks.

      • Patrick says:

        Hard to do in a 9 to 5 setting, when people somehow think it is funny to be annoying and are told by management to intentionally hassle and harass people. Shocked that only in California that is considered a crime.

        • Patrick says:

          This would be you Bob Austin and the Austin family cohorts of Oppi, Trina and Shawna. You know who you are.

  2. blh557 says:

    "And, finally, Ringer said: “Ignore annoying people, move on with your life, and leave it to nature to straighten everything out over the long term.”"

    Amen to that!

    Kind of reminds me of "Every dog has his day, but at the end of the day he's still a dog."

  3. I remember hearing "Dexter Windbag" criticizing you, Robert, for the title of your book. He was one of the early Nightengale Conant authors, and I, like you, found him to be a very unmotivational speaker, speaking in a monotone. I was unaware of his falsifying his educational achievements, but Wikipedia verifies it.

    Interesting that he is not referred to as Dr._______________ any longer.

  4. Marte says:

    " There are a lot of self-important people in this world who not only will do anything to feed their narcissistic appetites, they also come to believe their own B.S. to such an extreme that they live in an alternate universe."

    So…when are we going to kick them out of Washington D.C.?

    • Robert Ringer RJR says:

      I'm with you on that, Marte. I'm with you. You and I are getting the government that those who voted them in deserve.

    • John E. Gabor says:

      That was the line that jumped out at me, too. The scary thing about these people is that they might actually believe their own B.S.

  5. lonny sterling says:

    It's always a delight to read about your experiences and insights into some of the characters you've dealt with over the years.

  6. Roger Roger says:

    Robert, I will never forget as a real estate broker back in 1977, picking up my first copy of WTI in a bookstore in Mission Viejo CA, fascinated by the title and thinking that whoever had the nerve to use that title MUST have something interesting to say. I'm so glad I did. When you alluded to Ayn Rand's The Virtue of Selfishness and the fact that some or most who would read WTI would consider it to be a book about real estate and not about Life, it also made me smile as I recognized from experience, the truth of all you had to say in tying your RE experiences to life experiences.. It is a great book and made me a loyal fan. Best wishes.

  7. drbuttar Dr Buttar says:

    Awesome post Mr. Ringer. Thank you for writing this. I am a big fan of yours and have everything you've ever put out, from writings to audio programs. On a side note, I'm an international best selling author and my first book, "The 9 Steps to Keep the Doctor Away" hit all the big best seller lists like USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Amazon. It ended up being translated into multiple languages and became a best seller in Korea, Indonesia and some other countries. The website is http://www.The9Steps.com. I would like to send you a copy as a gift. Please have your staff contact my office at 704-895-9355 or send an email to info@drbuttar.com and provide me with an address where I can send you a copy of my book. Again, thank you for this wonderful post. I have come across many "Dexter Windbags" in my career. – Dr. Rashid A. Buttar

  8. Virginia says:

    So true – ignore the windbags who try to get to you. They are not worth the time or energy to bother with them. Over the years I have cut off a few people in this category as they become toxic elements that I choose not to have in my life.

  9. serge says:

    Reminds me of the movie Catch Me If You Can, the impersonator played by Leonardo Dicaprio, he self proclaims credentials as airline pilot and other lines of work and writes bad checks. Funny movie but sad if your'e the victim. I heard of a book out there on how to impersonate a doctor, lawyer or whatever you want to impersonate by knowing just enough of the vocabulary.

  10. I remember learning from a wealth trainer on how to handle people who are disagreeable and the best way to avoid getting into an argument with them is simply to state, "Thank you for sharing."

    And then move on…

  11. Bill says:

    Could this possible be a thinly disguised analogy of the typical politician?? Displays all the same lacking in the area of virtuous behavior, self promoting, jumping to conclusions without knowing all the facts, self aggrandizing.. long winded…

  12. DOL says:

    AS I HAVE ALREADY SHARED, IT AIN'T FUN WHEN IT IS A FAMILY-BY-MARRIAGE MEMBER AND YOU HAVE TO KEEP YOUR LIP BUTTONED. TOOK YEARS BUT I FINALLY REMOVED MYSELF FROM THIS PERSON'S RADAR.

  13. R Van Der Voort says:

    Same goes, I do believe, for those who get a lotta mileage outta calling themselves "Reverend". Revered by whom? Willing dupes? In the Philappines, 1992-3, I taught ESL at an International School with a gooneybird who claimed to have both BA and MA. I doubt that he graduated hgh school. And, over my many, many years of life and experience I cut in on group discussions with an insight that should have resolved the issue, but the talkers didn't want to hear and went on having fun groping and grappling with the topic at hand. Yes, America is the great Mediocracy! Elsewhere also. For myself, I sit at the feet of a person who is a truly creative thinker and speaker. The rare ones.

  14. Paul Robson says:

    Mind you the titles are a bit misleading :) "Looking out for #1" "Winning through intimidation" – it does sound a bit like "How to be greedy & selfish and bully people into doing what you want".

    • Jean says:

      However, had the person taken the time to read the book, he would have figured out that the it didn't advocate intimidation, it taught how to counter it. Windbag sounds like many of the talking heads on television who do author interviews on their programs. I remember one such interview distinctly on Good Morning America. The interviewess (who will remain nameless) had clearly not read the author's book, but kept hammering her on her recently espoused perspective on homosexuality. Had little to do with the content or perspective of the book and really was irrelevant to the dialogue.

  15. Mike Miller says:

    I think Robert revised and republished "Winning Through Intimidation" under a different title, "To Be or Not to Be Intimidated?: That is the Question". Great book in either version.

  16. Edgar K. Baker says:

    Nice, I like this blog.

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  20. Stretch marks says:

    the idea of a bunch of billionaires getting robbed blind for believing in a free lunch would amuse the hell out of us, but Bernie Madoff stole a lot of money from charity endowment
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  21. antika says:

    wow really good post love reading it.

  22. sanju says:

    veery good post thank you sir