1. Don’t trust people (too soon).
2. Expect people to lie.
3. Don’t expect people to celebrate your success.
4. Expect resentment.
Now, before anyone starts jumping up and down, shaking their fist and expressing their disdain at my lack of faith in humanity… take a breath and put your soap box away. Put the emotional reaction on hold for a moment and consider a few things. Do you think I would share something so (seemingly) negative without good cause? And by the way, it’s not really negative but rather reasonable, rationale and realistic advice (albeit uncomfortable to hear or read), based on my every-day, real-world experience. Over a long time.
The truth is that many people confuse pragmatic, not-always-comfortable, reality-based advice with negativity. They are quite different. Negativity is expecting a poor outcome for no logical reason or irrationally expecting the worst every time. Whereas, anticipating the possibility (notice I didn’t say certainty) of less-than-desirable behaviour from someone (or ones) in your orbit can be not only money-saving, career-saving, relationship-saving, and sanity-saving, in some extreme situations, it can be life-saving.
If you’ve met me (or read me for a while), then you know that I’m a positive, solution-focused bloke who works diligently to find and develop the best in people but in the middle of my optimism, I’ve experienced the negative version of ALL of the above four behaviours on a regular basis for my entire working life. Often, all on the same day! Is this revelation a display of negativity or toxic thinking on my part? No, it’s a commentary on a thirty-year career, thousands of encounters and an honest insight into one facet of human behaviour.
I’ve had people that I cared for (deeply) lie to me, trash talk me, steal money from me (literally), undermine me, resent my success and sabotage my endeavours, so in my world, expecting the best from people (all the people, all the time) would be irrational and potentially, dangerous. (*I’ve also had total strangers be incredibly generous, kind, loving and supportive.)
So, am I saying don’t trust people? Absolutely not. Am I saying everyone’s a lying, selfish, resentful dick? Nope. What I am saying is that life is not a Disney movie and while most people have the capacity for all things generous, kind and incredible, you might want to pay attention (to people) for a while – quite a while – and then base your expectations (of them) on your experience, insight and observation.
This might be an uncomfortable lesson for some of you but I can assure you that learning it this way is more pleasant than the alternative.