3. Playing by the Rules
So what’s driving all this embarrassment? There are underlying, tacitly accepted, rules of human interaction at work here:
- assessments of other people and situations are necessary;
- some of these assessments will be negative;
- communicating negativity is not recommended;
- negativity should be masked in public.
Assessments are necessary and we make them all the time in our public and private lives. A frequent assessment we make is whether or not to trust someone we work with. Misplaced trust might make us vulnerable, so we weigh up other people carefully.
And what if our assessment is negative? Whether to say what we really think, whether to openly communicate our assessment, is a decision we make every day.
Consciously or unconsciously we ask ourselves the question: is it in my interests to be open and honest? If we think it is in our interests for people to believe that we trust them when we don’t, we will communicate accordingly. For example, if challenged by the person concerned, we might offer a positive sounding answer without making a commitment. We hope that they are satisfied with evasive reassurances.