How can you tell? Print E-mail
News - Final Word
Monday, 21 March 2011 19:11
Untitled Document

Some of the worst mistakes I’ve ever made came as a result of listening to what people say about themselves. No, not as in telling lies – at least that antenna is still semi-operational; but more as in falling for someone else’s self-delusion.

So, if I’m under the impression that my BS-detector is in working order, why is it that I often cannot pick up when people are deluded about themselves? None of my business, you’d say? Nope, pretty much my business if I’m in a professional or personal relationship with them. They say that when employing someone, a business should make conjoint use of self-report inventories, which is what people say about themselves, and performance-based measures, which is how people go about doing tasks.

Marketing companies will tell you that it is also the most effective way to target customers. ‘Lead scoring’ is when you combine explicit data (what your customers say about themselves) and implicit data (their behaviour) to decide which approach to use to sell them something.

And personal relationships? It seems as if you’re supposed to turn up with a questionnaire and a couple of puzzles as well as a Rorschach test thrown in for good measure when going on a first date.

There are industries that make a killing out of predicting compatibility. I mean, just feed someone’s birth date into one of those ready-made astrology readers and they promise to compare your emotional needs, temperament and hang-ups with someone else’s to determine the relationship’s long-term possibilities. Whatever happened to head-over-heels, never mind what the consequences would be? Nope, those in the know say that you should use a more objective judging tool and suggest learning the how-to’s of body language translation.

The first thing the experts will tell you is to watch the way in which someone walks into a room. They say that the way we enter a room says a lot about the way we live our lives. When someone walks into a room full of people curious about what’s happening there and willing to make contact, it is someone who perceives him or herself as an active participant with something to offer. When someone walks into the room with their eyes averted or nervously smiling, they are holding themselves back for some or other reason.

Okay, so let me see you walk into a room full of strangers and not feel the slightest urge to hold back a bit of yourself for safekeeping purposes. I can only do this if I imagine myself acting out some sort of role, and how false is that?

How many of the people in the room will pick up on it? Nobody, if my act is good. I’ll pass the test but boy, will they be surprised when they get to know me.

Thing is that we live in a very externally focused, appearance-oriented world and people place a lot of value on what things look like.

That’s why I’m a bit sceptical about watching what someone does as a means of making some sort of value judgement about the person.

There was a stage in which I thought that the only way to get to really know someone is to read what they’ve written. Now that idea died a silent death when I took up reading biographies of my most admired authors and started suspecting that I never had a clue who they were.

I’ve come to the conclusion that none of these judging techniques work for me. I only end up feeling like a week-old road-kill when trying to make cool, calculated decisions based on proven formulas.

You’re never really going to know what goes on in someone else’s head, so when faced with a decision, I’d say you choose in favour of your own passions; you go with people who can recognise your passions and who might even share them and you build your company or your marriage with them.

And of course you might end up making monumental mistakes, but at least they’d be your own mistakes.

So, bump your head, employ the wrong people, marry the wrong man, lose your money – these things are ultimately survivable. Losing your passion for life is not.

Besoek die Suid-Afrikaanse Departement van Gesondheid se webwerf vir alle amptelike inligting en opdaterings rakende COVID-19 by

© 2021 Die/The Bronberger