Not everyone is out to take advantage of you
Saturday, March 27, 2010
A hybrid conference/unconference dedicated to “helping you build the career you deserve”. The day will include scheduled speakers, ad hoc presentations and breakout sessions on all aspects of building your career. CareerCamp is for anyone who wants to build and/or improve their career.
There is an insidious disease in the world today, but it isn’t one that effects the body — it effects the mind. Even worse, our current economic situation has driven it to infect more people every day. What is this disease? The assumption that everyone you speak with, everyone you meet, everyone you do business with is out to take advantage of you in one way or another. Using this as a starting point for every interaction with the world leads us to treat others in some extremely damaging ways. When we start from a place of fear, then fear, anger and resentment are often the harvest we reap.
Let me say, I can understand why people might fall victim to this disease. The fact is, there are large numbers of people and companies who ARE seeking to take advantage of us. We see it everyday in extraneous charges on our bills, identity theft and scams on the Internet. That said, when we begin treating everyone as a criminal, a potential shoplifter, a scam artist, we all lose. We assault the social glue that binds us all together and replace it with suspicion, anger and fear. As you might imagine this can cause a host of problems far beyond the persistent lack of trust.
I am not saying you ought to be a Pollyanna and ignore that fact that there are evil people in the world. I am merely asking you not to begin all your interactions with others from that viewpoint. I always try to remember an important rule, “Never ascribe to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” Sometimes, we humans are stupid and clumsy beasts. We do not understand how our actions effect others. This doesn’t make us evil, just human. We are fallible. What is important is how we respond when confronted with this fallibility.
If, when confronted, a person responds with a heartfelt apology and a desire to make amends, you can lean towards the “stupidity” explanation for their actions. Conversely, when the person responds with equivocation, doublespeak and obfuscation, it should raise a red flag. By failing to acknowledge the miscommunication, this person shows their true colors. They still might not be evil, but they aren’t someone you might want to interact with in the future. Starting with the positive, then moving to the negative only when further information is presented is far better than simply assuming the worst of everyone at the beginning.
In my own life, I find that I can no longer deal with people who come from such a negative place. Distrust, worry and fear discourages engagement and interaction with others. It also can leave you feeling victimized at every turn, always looking for the bogeyman under the bed. I decided long ago that I could not live this way. I try to assume the best in others until being proven otherwise. Some people show it quickly, others less so, but by slowly developing a relationship with others, assuming the best at the beginning, you can reach out to people without risking everything.
Every one is not out take advantage of you. Everyone is not a criminal. Everyone is not a scam artist. Treating everyone as such diminishes us all.