Business vs Social Validation

February 2015 · 2 minute read

Today I realised I have grown trait that at times is a bad one. That is to subconsciously test situations.

It formed I believe because of the dishonest world of software development. In software developers can range from eternal optimists to complete pessimists and are often quite dramatic at times.

If I ask a question it’s a response flavoured with a personal take on things that comes back. This is not a failing on their part but rather human nature combined with independent passionate thinkers. Its also rarely conscious. People don’t even know they are being negative or optimistic.

To find the real truth of the situation I often knowingly throw bad solutions into the picture or pick at things knowing the answers I expect to hear. I don’t do this all the time but in a high risk situation I want people to be confident in their answers. If people don’t fight for their ideas then there’s possibly something I don’t know about.

This doesn’t work when people are not passionate. If they indifferently agree in all possible directions then you have nothing. I work with passionate people so that’s never been an issue.

Where this falls down? It does not translate well to life. Probing and poking at social situations falls into the category of mind games and is something that just shouldn’t be played.

I made the mistake recently of subconsciously looking to validate a character trait of someone I’d just met. He seemed unusually confident and I wanted to understand that line between positive confidence and sugar coated arrogance. Whilst I validated a point that he was indeed a nice guy, the process was perceived rightly as a less than great line of discussion at one point as I was baiting a reaction. The worst part was I didn’t quite realise I was doing it. I was projecting being arrogant as a test which really isn’t me and has potentially longer lasting implications.

In the business world you do what you can to not get burnt. In the personal world it’s better to play an honest game rather than a manipulative one. New goal to ensure.