I think I know the cause behind a great subset of mankind's problems - lack of trust in other people. The story is very simple - most of us choose to use a "blacklist by default" policy. It means that when you're in a disagreement with someone, you are likely to be negotiating from a position in which you are certain the opponent is ...
- trying to pull a trick on you
- devising plans of harming you or your image
- an evil person with a malicious world domination ambition, a part of which is insulting your intelligence and ruining your life
Why is it easy to think that way? Because
- some people are assholes, it is a good idea not to trust people
- it reinforces your positive perception of yourself: if they are the "bad guy", that makes me the "good guy"
Note that both statements are not based on solid logic. If some people are assholes, it doesn't mean that all of them are. In the second case, you don't yet know they are "bad" (no proof), and even if they are that doesn't necessarily make you "good" - it is a false dichotomy.
In these circumstances it is very easy to make a fundamental mistake - absolutely exclude the possibility that they can be right. This is the result of another false dichotomy - if they are right, it means I am wrong, but since I know I am right, they must be wrong.
Sometimes this happens with good people too, even a reasonable person can fall into this trap. The solution is very simple - self-test questions.
- How can they prove their innocence?
- What should they do to make me see them as a good person?
In a debate you usually accuse someone of something (lying, manipulating facts, cheating, etc). Every time you make such an accusation, think about a course of actions they can choose to prove they mean no harm, are not evil, etc.
You will notice that sometimes there is nothing they can do to rehabilitate themselves. And you know what that means? It most likely means that you are the asshole, because you're not playing fair. You accused them of something, knowing beforehand that they won't be able to prove their innocence. (note: see "The life of David Gale" for a discussion on "the impact of accusing an innocent person")
The second self-test question is a healthy way to remind yourself that two people can be right at the same time. If you've thought of ways they can prove their innocence, and none of that worked - you conclude they are indeed liars and cheaters who don't play fair. In that case, the only thing they can do to make yourself see them as "good" (or at least "less bad") is their saying something like "Ah mighty heavens! I have failed! Indeed I have failed, I lied. Forgive me, for I was wrong!".
If that's the only way they can rehabilitate themselves, there are two possibilities - they are indeed evil, or you forgot to take into account some options when answering the first self-test question. Which one is more likely to be true? You don't think it's #2? Really? Are you really sure? Will you be able to convince someone who is as faultfinding as yourself that your logic was flawless?
What hurts me the most is that good people can fall into this trap. In such circumstances, instead of building a new friendship we're just extending each other's black-lists.
What helps me get over this is the strategic advantage of using this as a filter - if they don't want to play fair, cross them out of your social life, and instead focus on people who really matter.
"If you have integrity - nothing else matters, and if you don't have integrity - nothing else matters".
i’ve recently started to listen an audio book “how to destroy your’s and other’s life in best manner” and one of the methods described there is being right all the time. Get your right as much as possible, even if it is destroying your relationship, is making you alone, people start to hate you… Being right is often wrongly understood as being strong and persusive . well .. it isn’t. but who cares? few people can understand this illusion…
Свияш Ю.В., Как легко и быстро испортить жизнь себе и другим
Comment from: gr8dude [Member]
Hmm… that’s an interesting idea, and I can certainly see how it can damage a relationship. Such relationships have a different, more important problem - the couple is not in “teamwork” mode.
I mean, in a healthy relationship the mentality should be “regardless of who is right, we both win", and issues should never be discussed as “who is wrong and who is right".
However, some relationships are actually competitions, there is no cooperation - that’s a recipe for a disaster.
That sounds like a book I’d like to read too, thanks for the recommendation.
sometimes there is a competition within relationship. sometimes it is just a missunderstanding of the term love/relationship. most think about what THEY want from being tohether or what they want from their partner and of course, they are claiming it. not getting it they start acusing… and they will find lots of evidence that they are right - the partner is a jerk! oh, will forgot, of course, that didn’t gave nothing into their relationship..
Comment from: Vladiusik [Visitor]
Interesting… As an ex-selfish person I can relate to what you’re saying :))
Here’s a brilliant thought :
“Honor has not to be won; it must only not be lost.
Just curious. What do you think is imperative for a couple to be in “teamwork mode"?
Comment from: gr8dude [Member]
First of all, congratulations with making the switch :-)
Nice quote, I added it to my list of wise bits. In the nearest future I will add a new feature to the site - random quote; this one will be in that list.
Your question is an interesting one and I think it should be addressed in a separate article.
I can divide the problem in 2 sub-problems:
a - build a couple that works in “teamwork” mode;
b - convert an existing couple from “competitive” to “teamwork” mode;
[a] is easier because it is a proactive approach, you solve the problem by preventing it from occurring in the first place. There are several key-elements in making it happen:
- trusting the other person (otherwise you will tend to interpret their actions and statements as if they were hostile, even when they were not).
- not giving in to temptation [and starting the relationship]. Somewhere in the early stages of knowing each other you begin to observe the other person, learn their habits and understand their mindset. When you do that - there are some early signs about their degree of trust in you. If you see that trust is not there, take that into account before clicking “Next".
The problem is that people are not able to think rationally when we are in a state of arousal. That’s when we easily ignore these red flags and choose to start a relationship with someone who appears to be “not very compatible” with us.
There is an interesting book by Daniel Ariely, it is called “Predictably irrational", one of its chapters is “The Influence of Arousal - Why Hot Is Much Hotter Than We Realize". The author describes a set of experiments that prove that when people are aroused, their ability to reason clearly is significantly diminished, their moral standards become more relaxed, etc. Check it out, it is very interesting. [I have it]
Once the first mistake was made, the rest is relatively easy to explain - we will continue to convince ourselves that we’ve made the right choice, in order to make sure that our current state of mind is consistent and in sync with our previously taken decisions. This will continue until something bad happens (ex: cheating, as discussed in the other article) and you realize that you cannot feed yourself with lies anymore, that it is time to take off the pink glasses.
If the relationship started when both people had lucid minds - that’s good start.
[b] is a tough one, but not an impossible one, provided that:
- there is mutual trust
- a genuine will to fix the problem (which implies that both are aware of the problem in the first place)
I think that a solution is to use a “10 second rule". Before you say anything, especially when you are angry, take a short break and think about what you are planning to say. Most of the times problems occur when people are emotionally charged, they disconnect their brain and forget to think.
All of the above sounds simple, but I admit that it is difficult to implement. I have been in a relationship which shouldn’t have started, and even when it did - I should have stopped it (had plenty of chances to do that) because red flags were showing up on my screen every now and then. I chose not to do that, because I had trust. Had there been mutual trust - we’d still be together.
Trust should work like religion does - people honestly believe that god wants the best for them, even if the times are rough and the world is falling apart (he’s just testing our faith). If people trusted each other like they trust god - the world would be better. Unless there are reasons to believe one is not to be trusted, why not trust them?
Comment from: Vladiusik [Visitor]
OMG, I loved the last passage. It is like you answered this exactly how I would. But trusting other people is also a part of the baggage of moral values that we carry with us. I think it has all to do with the upbringing that we get. (Very rare cases when people educate themselves properly)
Then again, who will educate our youth if all the parents (generalization) are away making money in other countries?
“Trust should work like religion does” - unfortunately not very many people actually care about any of the two …
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