May, 2015

Do You Make the Mistake Thinking People are as Ethical and Moral as You?

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A few months ago I read both Necessary Endings and Boundaries for Leaders by Dr. Henry Cloud and they left a huge impression.

If you’ve ever struggled with unethical people or individuals with a “messed up” moral compass these books are a God send.

You need to read both. I know they are written from a business perspective but Dr. Cloud’s insight is masterful.

Before I dive into my own experience, I want to make it crystal clear that I believe in John Maxwell’s concept of viewing everyone I meet with a 10 on their forehead.  Start by assuming the very best about everyone you meet and they will often rise to your expectation.

That’s why I think this recent experience took me with such suprise. I was a bit naive.

But, and this is a big but. According to Dr. Cloud, there are 3 kinds of people out there. Wise people, foolish people and evil people.

The wise people are a pleasure to be around. They respond with maturity, communicate respectfully, they are not quick to take offence and generally treat everyone with honour and carry themselves with dignity.

Foolish people are not that.

If you want a run down on if you are dealing with a fool, read my blog here.

Foolish people are not evil, or generally ill intentioned.

They’re locked at a level of emotional maturity that more resemble “childish” behaviour. It’s fine when you are 12, not so when you are 52.

They need help (often professional) to grow to a level of maturity where they can relate as an adult.

I’ve also learned in dealing with foolish people, they only change when they want the help. Don’t waste your words if they are content in their foolishness.

Until they are ready to mature, you will only frustrate yourself and possible cause yourself harm by staying connected with them.

The 3rd type of person, the evil person, is who I have a hard time believing exists. But they do.

In the last decade, I’ve ran into my fair share. Dr. Cloud’s books have really helped me understand and more importantly, help me process what happened to me in a healthy way.

In my dealing’s with these people there were moment’s that I thought I was loosing it.

I wondered why things were going sideways so fast, and what was the matter with me!

As I mentioned earlier, I like to think the best of everyone I meet. I assume they are ethical and moral but Dr. Cloud clearly points out there are people that do not have our best interests at heart.

In fact they are more than just selfish or clueless (like the fool). They are strategic and intentional in controlling and deceiving you and they will stop at nothing until they get what they want.

Mainly money, but often influence or power over you.

The biggest thing I took from Dr. Clouds books was that I get myself into trouble when I think people have the same motive as me in a relationship. In a business deal, as a customer or client, never assume people are in it for your benefit. No matter what they say.

There are people that will think nothing of promising the moon to get you to sign on the dotted line. Then when they don’t deliver they argue and demean and try to put the blame on everything and everyone else.

In fact they are experts in the art of confusion and deflecting ownership for results.

As Dr. Cloud writes, with a fool, there needs to be clear boundaries, accountability and direct consequences for their lack of performance. They are clueless, not malicious, just incompetent.

With an evil person, Dr. Cloud writes, you need to defend yourself with “guns and lawyers”.

I’m not recommending you take your hunter safety course, but sometimes you need to call in the police or take legal action. It can truly get that bad.

That’s what came to light for me after the fact. This person had been in several legal battles and lost for the exact same issues.

So always do your homework and ask around. Talk to trusted advisors before you get involved with people that seem “too good to be true”.

I hope you never run into anyone like this but I do know they exist. I denied it for a long time and assumed it was me making poor decisions but thanks to Dr. Cloud I now know better.

This will not only help my family and I in the future, I hope that by sharing my experience I can help my patient’s, and anyone who reads this blog.

I’d love to hear your comments on this topic.

Have you ever made the mistake of assuming someone was well intentioned but wasn’t?

Have you had a run in with someone who didn’t have the same integrity, ethics or moral compass you aspire to and how did you deal with it?



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