He didn’t suffer fools gladly.
That’s an old expression with biblical origins that is used to describe a person who didn’t tolerate well those who he thought were fools – or at least not as smart, as informed or as well-versed as he.
To many, this is an honorable trait, as New York Times columnist David Brooks points out. But, as Brooks says, good manners permit one to suffer fools gladly.
Manners have gotten a bad rap over the years, just as political correctness has.
Brooks points out that when someone who doesn’t suffer fools gladly humiliates someone, he can look to be the bigger fool.
Let’s take it a step further. Suppose you worked for someone who did not suffer fools gladly. How would you feel when he didn’t show the necessary patience as you were learning your job? Sometimes, the fool you don’t suffer gladly is merely someone who disagrees with you. We’ve seen in Washington, D.C., in recent times, how not suffering fools gladly can actually prevent things from getting done.
Speaking of Washington, D.C., Maureen Dowd, another New York Times columnist, pointed out the differences between President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Biden relishes negotiating deals on Capitol Hill, while the president has little patience for it, Dowd says. Apparently, the president does not suffer fools gladly, if Dowd’s assessment is correct. Biden, on the other hand, loves to.
It’s been said that good people have three characteristics, among many. They have humility, integrity and generosity. Perhaps one can have integrity and not suffer fools gladly. But it would be difficult to be humble and generous, and not suffer fools gladly.
It’s OK to be confident. It’s certainly OK, even desirable, to think well of yourself – on the inside. But being humble means you don’t flaunt that confidence by making others feel less worthy. You do your thing well, and give others credit.
Being generous means that you are blessed to have what you have, and are willing to share with those who may not have what you have. The more you give, the more you get in most situations.
Go back to the employer-employee relationship. A humble, generous employer with integrity is someone everyone would want to work for. He shows patience with the employee when needed. He appreciates the efforts his employees give him. He generously pays for those efforts. He realizes that without those employees, he would not be where he is. Because of his integrity, he always does the right thing, regardless of the effect on him.
He realizes his employees may not know as much as he does, because they are not in position to know. But they are not fools to be suffered.
He is not just being polite, and showing good manners by being humble, generous and having integrity. He’s being a good business person and a great employer. Those characteristics greatly improve his chances of success.
He also believes that his success depends on how much he helps others succeed. If you are a humble, generous person with integrity, and have the desire to help others like you succeed, visit That could be the vehicle to fulfill your dream of helping others, thus helping yourself.
It takes many to make a world. It’s OK to know something that someone else doesn’t know. Just don’t be afraid to share what you know. Share it with humility, integrity and generosity. Suffer “fools” gladly, then give them credit for accomplishments. If you don’t, you could look like the bigger fool.


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