Friday, November 16, 2007

Friends Are Not Like Cars

Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Work Week, has a new post on his blog titled "How to Test Drive Friends and Irritate People". The premise is that very often we invest our time and efforts into people only to later discover that they are not of good character. He states:

"What if it were possible to fast-forward relationships, whether with new friends, business partners, or romances? To get past the honeymoon facade of niceties and see their true tendencies underneath all it all?"

He then suggests that we put people into planned situations where they might get irritated to see how they react. Thus, if they bark at waiters who deliver poor service or snap when you change plans on them at the last minute that you can remove them from your life sooner rather than later...thus saving yourself the investment of time getting to know them better.

Whoa. Wait a second.

While I agree that time does reveal the true character of people and that some folks do put on a facade in the early stages of a relationship, his plan to trick people in to showing their true colors is just wrong. It is not right. Even if I have to work more than four hours a week, I don't want to plan for manipulation of other people in this manner.

People are not your own personal science experiment. They are not rats in a lab that you get to toy with see how they react. The things he is suggesting are just as one sided and awful as what the liars, cheats and frauds are doing to you by presenting a false image.

I think too many people look at new relationships and think “How will this relationship benefit ME!”. Tim's suggested “tests” of how people react are one sided. It says “let ME make sure that they will be a good friend to ME and be worth MY time and investment in this relationship so that I can save MY time if they are not a fit”.

It just leaves me feeling icky to think that folks would be “testing” each other in a manipulative fashion to decide if the other person is “worth” it. Anyone who discovers they were tested in such a manner should walk away from the tester.

Giving people the benefit of the doubt (that they are good at heart) does take time and many folks will let you down in life. But one cannot make every personal decision based on how it effects their own experience…or by conducting a cost benefit analysis of every friendship. That is awfully selfish.

I have found that MOST people are good and just. Therefore you can approach your new relationships with an honest and open heart. When those come along who hurt or trick you, that is just a lesson. This does not mean you should not have your eyes open and watch out for yourself (of course you should always be aware of your surroundings), but do not let the bad guys get you down or make you cynical and guarded toward everyone else who comes into your life.

While time is precious, do not let the saving of time cause you to shut others out or resort to having a litmus test to be your friend. People are not like cars, you do not get to take them on a test drive.

I admire Tim Ferris and would hope to meet him one he seems very intelligent and interesting. I am now just scared that if we ever did get to have a beer together that I would be being tested as to see if I am worthy of his attention. If he reads this, maybe he would never meet me for a beer anyway, or maybe he would. Maybe I am testing him right now! (No, I am not!!!!)

Have A Great Day.



Anonymous said...

as a fellow aspiring author, I warn you against critism against someone who has a main-stream published book. You will get yourself blacklisted. You may want to remove this post. Authors and publishers do not take kindly to anything but praise.

Thom Singer said...

the above comment made me laugh. I often do not post weird annonymous posts...but this one made me giggle. I just dont thing there is a conspiracy out there that will come get me if I challenge the idea of some famous author.


Aruni Gunasegaram said...

If an author can't deal with other people's opinions that s/he shouldn't write anything.

Thom - I agree with you for the most part. You shouldn't go out of your way to test people and you shouldn't take an incident like someone getting upset if you have to change plans as an indicator of their entire character. They have the right to be upset and then move on.

I do think though that if you are with someone and you see indicators that make you feel like they will let let you down then you should consider keeping your distance.

Thom Singer said...

Two things. The first "anonymous" comment was not real, but from a friend who thought he was being funny. I was going to remove it, but it did cause he and I to have a long talk about the topic...which leads to my second thing:

In Tim Ferris's original post he talks about having so many "toxic" people in his life that this little test helps him out. My friend said that while we all do encounter bad apples, how many really "toxic" people do we have? We agreed that there is not many. Thus if you, as a person, find yourself with a HUGE amount of jerks in your life, maybe the problem is YOU. I have to agree with my friend, as like attracts like. If you need to manipulate and test all who come into you life, you are doing something wrong.

Author /speaker Jim Rohn says that you are the sum of the five people you hang around the most. For me, that is cool, cuz my five closest friends are amazing and to be the sum of them would make me better than I am alone!