Do familiarity breeds contempt?  How true is the above statement?   What is the true meaning of the word familiarity and how it can cause contempt?   


When the interaction becomes formal/official, the language of communication shall also be very official and formal.  The confusion starts only when the equations are not clearly understood or obviously when it is mismatched or violated.


In the official parlance, admixing of the personal interest would cause noise & fury and vice versa.  The contempt or disrespect is largely not due to familiarity, but purely due to the imbalance in the equation between the two.  When one person relates the interaction at personal level and the other in the official format, the delicate ecosystem of communication or the understanding get strained.  Such mismatch will certainly breed ‘disrespect’ as an imminent byproduct. 


If there is a true ‘familiarity’, how such mismatch is possible or can occur in the very interaction?  How the ecosystem of communication or understanding is allowed to be affected or disturbed?   



Only the lack of familiarity alone causes contempt.  The meaning and the definition of the word ‘familiarity’ must be understood in the right sense by the corporate employees.


Without being familiar to each other, can employees exist meaningfully or perform well in the organization?  Why there is a HR, HR trainings, socialization and social outing etc., are organized for the employees by most corporate these days?  Even the usage of the word ‘Sir’ is strictly prohibited in many corporate these days.  Are they not intended to create the culture of familiarity in the corporate? 


It is not contempt, only harmony and excellence can be the byproduct of familiarity. 


Interestingly, do animals believe in this well told dictum?  In truth, animals in general never seem to believe in the law of ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ nor do they believe in the very expression itself.


Domestication should be understood differently from familiarity.  Domestication is an active process and also is one sided at the beginning. 


Animals know that they cannot naturally establish familiarity with human beings as human beings are unpredictable, unbelievable and ruthless.  Animals know about the ‘man’ better than man knows his own species. Hence they neither believe nor carry any complain about the popular phrase.


Instead of causing ‘contempt’ familiarity will definitely prevent ‘better understanding’ about a person or the work etc.  Familiarity kindles the ego of ‘I know’ feeling and when the feeling of ‘I know’ enters in the mind, the mind will certainly deliver the baby of ‘what else is there for me learn or know’. 


The ‘I know’ feeling is not the sign of knowledge but it is an embodiment of ignorance and arrogance. 


Dear corporate employees do not try to be familiar with anyone or anything, but be aware of things and events around you.  If you want to learn many unknown aspects from what is known and if you wants to see what is not seen despite being seen and seeing, keep enough space in your mind and never allow the kingdom of familiarity to rule your life.             

Dr S Ranganathan, Director, ClinRise Derma Pvt., Ltd., Chennai
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