Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Being Bad Has Never Been So Good
When I was a boy I loved when my dad would break out a board game and challenge me to join him in the arena that was our kitchen table. Not once did he ever pull a punch and he delighted at beating me senseless at whatever game we played. He was, and is, what I like to call a "sore winner." When we played Monopoly and I landed on one of his properties with a hotel he would begin a grandiose speech welcoming me to the "nicest hotel" on the block and encouraging me to return at my earliest convenience (which would usually be my next lap around the board). And when he had the unfortunate pleasure of landing on one of my hotels it was always on Baltic. He would sneer at my poor accommodations and threaten to file a customer complaint at my poorly managed "motel." It wasn't until we played Battleship that I was finally able to exact my revenge. I figured out by accident that if I kept track of his shots I could move my ships and declare "miss" every time he successfully hit my fleet. At first I felt bad, but I was finally a winner and able to give him a taste of his own medicine. Victory was sweet, despite the fact that I was cheating.
Every Behavior Has A Positive Intent
This was an interesting presupposition to learn, and even more interesting when you see it in action. The human mind works in positives at its very core and everything we do is for the purpose of a positive outcome, even if that isn't how others see it. Knowledge of this simple fact was absolutely critical in my time as a defense attorney. Let's look at it from the most basic of examples first. The smoker. It is accepted by all that smoking is bad for your health. From the first inhale it causes you to cough, gives you red eyes and yellow teeth. Over time it causes irreparable damage to your lungs and heart. Yet, smoking is alive and well. Why? Well, what positives does one receive from partaking of tobacco? Some enjoy the relaxation and instant relief from lighting up. When nervous, what better relief than kicking back and lighting up? No one smokes with the goal of wheeling an oxygen tank behind them. The original intent, though, was positive.
Back to my defense time, I found that it was too simple for people to view another's anti-social behavior and vilify them. It's all too easy to punish when we rarely understand why someone would do such a thing. I remember one client in particular who was caught purchasing crack and giving it to his wife who quickly became an addict. On those facts alone it would be easy to title him the worst type of human. Looking deeper to find my client's positive intent you would find that his wife had broken her back and had to undergo a number of surgeries. She lived in constant pain. After her prescriptions had run out and her doctor retired she was unable to find a new specialist for months. Unable to move and crying for her husband to do something he found a drug dealer and tried to purchase something for her pain. In desperation, he accepted crack and after his wife used it she stopped crying for the first time in months. They were able to be intimate for the first time in over two years. He meant well for her, despite doing wrong. Who among us wouldn't do whatever it took to ease the pain of our most loved? This isn't to say he shouldn't have been punished, but justice was better served when the punishment was matched with mercy and understanding.
The next time you deal with the absolute jerk, or you hear that awful story on the evening news, think for a second at the motivation that was the positive intent that caused the action. Soon enough, you will begin to notice how this will change your daily negotiations and relationships. Rather than attack someone's sour behavior or actions, go directly to their positive intent and work from there.
From the New Man Cave,
Posted by Superfly