…and you don’t have to, if you learn from my experience.
2011 has been a year of learning in the social realm. I’ve discovered as much about people in this year as I have in the past ten. Much of this learning has been difficult — very difficult at times.
People can be a source of enjoyment, but can also prove to be a primary source of frustration. You can’t change this, and you can’t change their ways, but you can change the expectations you have of people and the way you approach them.
The following is what I’ve learned not to do when it comes to people and all kinds of relationships.
1. Assume your close friends and family know and understand you
Before this year I’d thought the people who I’ve known for years and had a close relationship with understood my way of thinking and motivations. But I was wrong — most people simply don’t understand (but think they do), and will easily misinterpret your simplest actions.
2. Believe people will be consistent in thought and behavior
Being fairly consistent, I expected other people to be as well, at least when they tried to be. However, people are a fickle bunch. There is no way of telling how they will feel or what they will do from one day to the next.
It’s not that they’re dishonest — they can truly mean something one day, and say or do something which contradicts it the next day. If you think you can hold someone to something they said weeks or months ago, forget it.
3. Assume people understand why they do things
As surprising as it may seem to people who are more self-aware, many people don’t understand themselves and their reasons for doing things. Often times they say or do what they feel like doing at the time, without comprehending why.
This ties into number one — if people don’t understand their own motivations, how could they possibly understand yours?
4. Think people will be straightforward about their problems
There are several passive personalities out there, but there are even more people who become passive when they disagree with you or your actions. They will do everything except tell you that they are upset. They will drop hints, but will not come right out and say it. That is, until the situation has reached its breaking point and the issue can no longer be resolved, or you confront them about it.
5. Be eager to see someone as a friend
“What about your friends?” Yes, what about them? They’re probably not as friendly as you think.
Since people are fickle and don’t tend to know why or what they will do, the chances are high that they may do something you consider very un-friend-ly. Definitely do not share information with someone that you wouldn’t be comfortable with the world knowing.
6. Presume reciprocity
It’s easy to think that if you help someone, they will help you when you’re in need. Or that your friends will be there for you as you will be there for them. But assuming this will leave you disappointed — many people are, above all, concerned with their own well-being.
7. Believe friends and family won’t betray or disappoint you
Because I’ve learned they can, and will. Consider yourself warned.