1. distrusting or disparaging the motives of others; like or characteristic of a cynic.
2. showing contempt for accepted standards of honesty or morality by one’s actions, especially by actions that exploit the scruples of others.
3. bitterly or sneeringly distrustful, contemptuous, or pessimistic.
The distinction is subtle but important. One implies the critical application of reason; the other implies negativity and bitchiness. Both traits are pervasive in our culture; one is healthy and valuable, the other is poison.
I’m not saying that you should go around contradicting orders. There is a right way and a wrong way to apply healthy skepticism. The right way is to unemotionally and professionally make your opinion known, in a setting and manner which does not undermine the authority of your boss, but reinforces it. If your objective opinion is dismissed, as it may well be, it is then your duty to execute brilliantly. There is no in-between. Half-assing or slow-rolling a plan because you don’t agree with it is passive-aggressive, which is the technical term for pathetic.
Skepticism and Cynicism often come packaged together
Think you may be on the borderline between skepticism and cynicism? Here’s a good way to tell: gauge your emotionality. Are you passionate? Does this passion consistently manifest itself as anger, frustration, or bitterness? If so, then the odds are that you’re coming down on the cynical side, and your valid arguments are being ignored because of it. Emotions are just as damaging to credibility as dogmatism, its just a different kool-aid you’re drinking.
If you know you’re an independent thinker but face a general perception that you’re bitter or malcontent, then the problem is you and you need to fix it. The “complainer” label doesn’t just harm you professionally (which you may or may not be concerned about), but it seriously undermines your credibility. The best thing you can do is tone down the emotion and ramp up the professionalism, because our service needs your critical thinking.