Observations about people

These observations have proven true for me. They’re mostly about people.

The same, in a different way

Take any human character trait. Smart, stupid, easy-going, stubborn, kind, cruel. Anything.

Every person on the planet has that trait, possibly in different ways. Every person is smart in one way and stupid in another way.

It’s not right to call one person “smart” and another person “stupid” without context.

Contradiction is natural

Some people think contradiction is bad. I’ve realised it’s natural.

Any time you are in two minds about something, you contradict yourself. You want chocolate cake because it’s delicious, and you don’t want chocolate cake because it’s fattening.

People who contradict themselves aren’t evil. They’re people.

Events often have many causes

Why are crime rates high, or unemployment rates low? Why did you feel tired today but not yesterday? There are usually many causes, but we want to point to one because that’s easier.

This leads to misunderstanding. Accept that some things have many causes, and that some of them are hard to know.

Actions have a subjectively good reason

Every person has a good reason for their actions, as far as they’re concerned.

Until you understand the reason, your opinions are wasted.

Questions like “How could anyone think that’s a good idea?” show that you’ve compared someone else’s action to your own beliefs and principles. This won’t help you understand what happened.

Misunderstood, not malicious

Very few people intend to be malicious. It’s much more likely that the person misunderstands you, or you misunderstand the person. Unless someone confirms that they did something to hurt you, it’s better to assume that you don’t understand.

Change comes from within

Generally people change because they want to change. It’s better to show someone something that will make them want to change, than to try to change them.

Emotional, then rational

People have an immediate emotional reaction to something. Then more slowly they have a rational reaction to it as they think about it. Often they will realise that they don’t agree with their emotional reaction. It’s best to acknowledge the emotional reaction but wait for the rational one.