Link to Part I, on Working With Human Nature
I. Bullshit is Everywhere
From Time magazine, 2014:
Chinese troops violently retook the square in Beijing where pro-democracy protesters had set up camp for weeks.The Tiananmen Square massacre left an unknown number dead, with some estimates in the thousands, and smothered a democratic movement. But after a quarter-century—and a thorough attempt by the Chinese government to conceal the events that unfolded that June—our collective memory is sometimes limited to not much more than an image of a man defiantly standing in front of a tank.
Imagine the massacre, what it looked like.
Now watch this video of “tank man”:
Watch the entire fucking thing you lazy piece of shit, especially if you were born before 1980. I’ll make this worth the two and a half minutes of your time, this will blow your mind.
What did you see? Pick:
a. Brave Chinaman standing up for democracy and human rights
b. Lunatic Chinaman doing some crazy shit.
Now what did the tank do? What the fuck did the tank do?
a. Crushed the Chinaman.
b. Tried to go around the Chinaman.
Is your bullshit detector on? What did you see? What did you read? Does everything make sense or do you sense dissonance between what you saw and what you read?
I saw a battalion of tanks show remarkable restraint. Tank didn’t even react when Chinaman climbed on top of it. Now stand on the top of a police car in the US and see what happens to you.
Now read this, from Wikileaks:
“He watched the military enter the square and did not observe any mass firing of weapons into the crowds, although sporadic gunfire was heard. He said that most of the troops which entered the square were actually armed only with anti-riot gear – truncheons and wooden clubs; they were backed up by armed soldiers,” a cable from July 1989 said.
So who is full of shit, the Chinese government or Time magazine? Time fucking magazine, that’s who and this isn’t the only bullshit that gets tossed at us. Now ask yourself why nearly all Americans who followed news of this incident believed it even when there isn’t one video or photo showing systematic killing of students in the Square? (There are only videos of riots in parts of the city, which all parties agree happened). What makes people susceptible to believing bullshit?
Good managers can spot bullshit. And there’s a lot of bullshit out there — most of it is bullshit — people’s delusions about themselves and others count as bullshit too. Spot bullshit by relying more on a person’s actions and the results of their actions, less on what a person says. Words are meaningless until backed by action and results.
II. Why People are Full of Shit
You can learn a lot about a person by noting what type of bullshit he believes in. A few years back there was a report on the news about a pitbulls killing a boxer at a Seattle dog park. Description of pitbulls’ owners, from Mountlake Terrace News:
The couple is described as a heavily tattoo (sic) man in his 20’s and a female 5’6 190 lbs late in her 20’s with three pit bulls.
(Identified as White in another description).
In other words, whiggers. Yes yes, it makes sense, so much sense…
Except it didn’t to those who paid attention to the improbability of some of the details of the report. Which you’re not likely to do if you secretly hate whiggers (which is a more socially acceptable way of expressing hatred of Black people) . At any rate, it turned out to be a hoax, a bullshit report that led to hysteria and two weeks worth of copycat bullshit reports of pitbulls throughout Puget Sound region mauling this dog and that dog while their whigger owners stood there laughing.
Point is, people will believe that which confirms their reality. And not believe that which challenges their identity. That’s why there’s so much bullshit, why people lie to themselves and to others.
Good managers are adept at recognizing and managing employee and customer realities and identities. The self-described “nice girl” will find it difficult to recognize her inconsiderate behavior and if she does, will excuse it or blame others. The guy who thinks he’s funny won’t notice that nobody is laughing at his jokes. The customer who thinks he’s being polite when he doesn’t tell employee that there’s something wrong with a product won’t realize that he’s a cowardly narcissist who is hurting the business by not letting anyone know.
III. How to Detect Bullshit
Deflection instead of taking responsibility. If you point out to employee that he did something wrong and he responds with: “Oh I usually do it right I just messed up that one time,” he’s full of shit and will make that same mistake again.
Anyone who is wordy is full of shit. They’re like students answering short essay questions. The ones who know the answer get to the point and give the correct answer with precision and alacrity. Those who don’t know guess this and that in hopes of getting partial credit. Never trust someone who rambles, who can’t stick to a topic.
Anyone who uses a lot of jargon is full of shit. Jargon is meant to intimidate and confuse so you don’t call them out on their bullshit.
Those who name-drop are full of shit. Also used to intimidate.
Changing the topic means there’s bullshit.
Blaming others and making excuses means there’s bullshit. This one happens all the time.
Gift giving can be a sign of bullshit to come or to cover/make up for. Dad buys daughter new car because he feels guilty about divorcing her mom. Girl gives super nice but too nice boyfriend really good blowjob before breaking up with him the next day. Giving a compliment to fish for a compliment. Telling spouse you love her after losing a month’s worth of salary at the casino.
Those who fish for compliments, who are addicted to praise and affirmation, are full of shit. To feed their addiction, they give bullshit compliments to other people in hopes of favor returned. Which creates a fake world of meaningless words.
We’ll keep adding to this list. In the meantime, train yourself to spot signs of bullshit and how to translate what someone is really saying by focusing on their actions.
“Happy Birthday, Love you Dad!”
Translation: “I love you because I seek your affirmation that I’m a good daughter. But I don’t love you enough to plan how I’m going to take care of you when turn geriatric. Your affirmation isn’t worth that much trouble.”
Note: Love is an action, not a feeling. Love is communicated through words when there’s little or no action.
“Honey, I got your dry cleaning!”
Translation: “Take me to this show and dinner and then play with my pussy for long time when we get home. I earned it.”
Note: Fishing for acknowledgement is one of the lowest forms of emotional manipulation. It suggests score keeping, which is impossible to maintain if one wants a healthy relaltionship.
Next in Part III, we’ll consider scenarios on how to best work with customers and employees.