The Gall!

  • Posted on: 10 July 2013
  • By: Shawn DeWolfe
Sometimes, I am not the most positive person. I have learned to not fear or shun the dark, but use it like a dank mine of ideas-- like a repository of jam-side-down toast. Sometimes I feel this swell of negativity when people get away something. I am amazed by the gall of some people.

Gall is a a flavor of indignation. Indignation itself is about being offended without being hurt in a tangible way. I have heard it summed up as anger over someone else ordering a steak when you could have one yourself or choose to not have one at all. It's a peer pressure squeeze play. It's a social construct. And I say that social constructs are almost imaginary. "Almost imaginary" as in we buy into them and follow their boundaries, but are not real. They're made out of our limitations and insecurities; they're not made out of steel or stone.

We're all looking for some advantage in life: the free coffee on your birthday; the easy part of your job; the score at the JC Penny's sale. We want an edge. When someone gets an exceptionally good deal, many of us will pout and decry sour grapes. When someone grabs an exceptionally good deal we may get all indignant and scoff, "why the gall of that man!"

An exceptionally good deal is relative to winner and his grumpy audience. That free coffee may seem swell to a peer, and trivial to a millionaire but it's a massive stroke of good luck to a panhandler huddled outside the coffee shop. The undirected goal of indignation is to shame someone into regretting their position, or doling social rancor on someone to the point that they are censured in some other way (get the massive tattoo, but you lose your retail job when the boss sees the dragon inked on your neck). Gall is about the perception of imbalance and the violation of some moral code. Gall isn't founded on the disposition of an equal amount of good fortune to all, it's about the desire to drag everyone into the same pit of misfortune.

What if the reaction to outlandish behavior were to do your part to establish an equilibrium? But not through dragging people down, but through doing something as relatively brash and "out there" as others around you have tried? That nerd asks out the super-model? Go try the same thing on the next super-model over. Your co-worker asks for $20k/year raise? Go ask for $21k. Don't see those people who gall you as cheaters. Think of them as pioneers. Maybe they are not conscious that they're pushing their luck. Maybe they don't know that someone could take their lesson and purposefully attempt to achieve what even they think is too much.

My suggestion:
Ask for too much.
Go too far.

When you hit a wall consistently, either hone your strategy for going too far; or, consider that you have hit a boundary. That is, until the pioneer sparks you to say, "Why the nerve!" and follow their lead.

Last updated date

Tuesday, June 10, 2014 - 11:22