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The ‘Type A’ Personality

Since when has this been an excuse to be an entitled monster?

Everyone knows the horrors of jostling with the lunch crowd at Raffles Place: impossibly long lines outside eateries, impatient diners tapping away on their Blackberries and a cacophony of sighs, grunts and growling stomachs. It was in the midst of all this that I stood two weeks ago, feeling triumphant for having made it to the front of a snaking lunch queue without passing out from hunger. But just as it was my turn to get a table, a man in a suit sauntered up to the waiter and snapped: “My company orders from this restaurant all the time so you need to get me and my clients a table NOW. We’re in a rush.” I stood there, mouth agape, fuming. Then he turned to me and said: “I sometimes come off sounding rude but it’s just my Type A personality. Can’t help it!”

Maybe I missed the memo but when did having a Type A personality (read: overachieving, ambitious, impatient) become synonymous with having an overblown sense of entitlement? Also, when did claiming you have a Type A personality become an insidious way to broadcast how successful and important your life is? These days, the term may be misappropriated by busy banker/ lawyer types but the idea of a Type A personality reached the mainstream back in 1974 – thanks to a book called  Type A Behaviour and Your Heart and its 1996 follow-up, Type A Behavior: Its Diagnosis and Treatment. Written by a cardiologist, Dr Meyer Friedman, the books had little to do with psychology or personality types. Instead, they described Type As angry, selfish people who were more likely to get a heart attack than meeker Type Bs. In today’s world, where being busy is glorified, though, the term Type A has become the ultimate humble brag. Self-confessed Type As are often also the ones who create scenes in restaurants and bully their subordinates with impunity. Was I a jerk to you? Sorry, it’s just an inevitable side effect of my ambition and success – ugh.

And this awful sense of entitlement isn’t just a trait of people who are outright nasty. It also manifests itself in the woman who sees nothing wrong with making a business call loudly in the middle of my pilates class (look at how busy and important I am), and in alpha parents who are too busy checking their e-mail to attend to their crying children (no seriously, look at how busy and important we are). Surely there’s a way to be successful, ambitious and painfully busy without behaving so inconsiderately, or being a jerk to the poor guy who’s earning way too little to be getting yelled at by you or everyone else around you. So the next time one of these entitled sorts starts being a jerk   around you, do everyone a favour and call them out on it – loudly, proudly and most importantly… decisively. Don’t worry about bruising their egos either. Rest assured, these kinds of people need a solid reminder that you can show off your Type A(wesome) traits without becoming a stereotypical Type A(ss).


By Ankita Varma, Her World, April 2015

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