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12 November, 2008

Dangerous people are everywhere

I want to be somewhat veiled about this, because it should be discreet. If it were my private blog, which I no longer update, I would "tell all". But I want to give you a sense of what is on my mind, and therefore need to be a tad tactful.

That said... Dangerous people are everywhere.

You might ask yourself what I mean by "dangerous". And it's quite simple. I consider it dangerous when people have either power, or influence, without having knowledge, understanding, or restraint. And we see it in all kinds of ways. And I have very little tolerance for it (though, more than some people, for sure). I do not profess to know all, and I do not profess to have the best way of doing anything in this world. But when it comes to leaders, I think I have a reasonably good idea of who I am willing to follow. What's that metaphor? About hitching your something to that star? I can't remember the wording.

Anyway, I will say that one thing I not only admire, but for which I have an ever-growing admiration, is people who are "wise". Wisdom is being able to see the playing field, and make the right calls because you can think a few moves ahead, or because you know the pitfalls and are prepared for the consequences. You don't get blindsided. You are not oblivious. You are not ignorant. To be wise is not necessarily to always do the right thing, though! By no means. In fact, one could be quite wise, knowing exactly all the potential pitfalls, and still choose the perilous path. But the wise person is at least prepared for the eventualities.

It's one thing to see this lack of wisdom (i.e. the "dangerous" people) out there around me. But it's another when it's pushed up against my world, and I need to reconcile with it. When you have your progress, or your reputation tied to the outcomes that are not in your control. And then the problem gets complicated when you consider that, for example, in the workplace the main goal is the success of the product, or the team, or whatever. So, while the wise thing might be to just steer clear of those situations with dangerous people, it would be selfish to turn one's back, when there is an opportunity to maybe positively impact a situation. But to do that, you need to be willing to subject yourself to the very uncomfortable dogma, and illogic of the dangerous people. And be positive. And keep a level head. And strive toward consensus.

Anyway, there has probably never been a single place I've worked that there have not been people that I'd consider dangerous. And some of them have been very powerful, and highly respected in their field, and still dangerous. And others have been more like little rabid chihuahuas nipping and yipping, trying to please, or to gain recognition. They're everywhere. And I guess there are a few lessons that are probably worth learning:
  1. You cannot avoid them, so you need to learn how to not be owned by them.
  2. If you are interviewing for a job, you should probably watch for telltale signs among prospective colleagues and decide a priori whether you want to subject yourself to them.
  3. You want to be happy, so don't let them ruin your life - maybe try feeling privately sorry for them. Sympathy makes tolerance a lot easier than resentment.
  4. You want to be successful, which means you need to find very constructive, positive, and probably subtle ways, of bringing about a good outcome for everyone, while not burning bridges. Sometimes you cannot just blurt out "Your idea is stupid, and here's why, and we're not gonna do it". That's from Chapter 1 of "How to make friends and influence people".

Now I will shut my self-righteous trap, and go to the gym before it closes.

1 comment:

  1. Your description reminded me of an interesting book I read at a hostel when I was in Buenos Aires. What you describe sounds somewhat like how this book describes dealing with narcissists. After reading this book, I able to instantly think of several people I knew who fit the description to a T. It was a quick, interesting read--I'd recommend it.

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