Am I a poor judge of character? 6 replies

Please wait...

Andron Taps Forum Mod

Faktrl is Best Pony

261,592 XP

10th September 2007

4 Uploads

21,746 Posts

1,754 Threads

#1 10 months ago

First off let me say I'm all too aware that you never truly know someone, but I seem to have a history of misjudging people.  And by misjudging I mean I tend to ascribe too much positivity to someone's character.  The most common example of this problem is college professors.  Here in America the university system works like so:

1) Get registered in the financial aid system.

2) Register for classes.

3) You then have two weeks to decide whether or not you wish to continue a class before money is charged.

4) If you withdraw from the class after the two weeks but before the midterm you don't get penalized academically, but you lose the money.

Now, a lot of things determine whether or not you'll withdraw: difficulty, performance, and professors.  I have become extremely cautious as of late in selecting professors.  In the past, so many have either started out as total cunts or as people who seemed decent only to turn into complete assholes.  The latter example has cost me quite a bit of time and money, not to mention emotional and psychological exhaustion.  But it's not just college professors; other students and people in general have often tricked me into thinking I could relate to them or enjoy their company.  At first, they present a decent enough image and intelligence, but over time I quickly discover their thoughts are incredibly boring and their behaviors and attitudes atrocious.  By that same token, the opposite has happened as well.  So I guess I'm just asking for advice or an evaluation: am I just a fool when it comes to social interaction and judging people?  Or is this just a normal part of life and it's a risk you have to take?


"I'd shush her zephyr." ~ Zephyr.



RadioactiveLobster Forum Admin

Jeff is a mean boss

565,400 XP

28th July 2002

0 Uploads

53,121 Posts

1,330 Threads

#2 10 months ago

Working in customer service and the public sector for many years has caused me to naturally assume everyone is an asshole.

If you expect it then you're less disappointed when it happens and pleasantly surprised when it doesn't.



If there is no image, Mikey broke something...



Andron Taps Forum Mod

Faktrl is Best Pony

261,592 XP

10th September 2007

4 Uploads

21,746 Posts

1,754 Threads

#3 10 months ago

I've also worked in retail for longer than I wish, but these experiences persist.  It's as if some part of me can't help but see through rose-colored glasses in certain scenarios.  I have admittedly become quite cynical in days pays, but I have to make sure I never let my guard down.


"I'd shush her zephyr." ~ Zephyr.



Lindale Forum Mod

Mister Angry Rules Guy

241,122 XP

1st February 2010

0 Uploads

23,429 Posts

2 Threads

#4 10 months ago

I STILL work in retail, and it only makes me more and more cynical every day. I hate every moment of dealing with people. I especially hate the ones who feel physical contact is necessary. I hate being touched, plus, I have weapons training. That is not a very good combination. Earlier today, a customer grabbed my arm, and I instinctively reached for my knife. I am just glad I realized what was happening before I did anything.

But to answer your question, the first step is to see if this is genuinely the person's real behaviour. I once had a teacher who we all called "The Homework Queen," because she believed that the amount of homework should be equal to the amount of work you did at school. On the other side, I had a teacher who genuinely cared about everyone, and I thrived under her. So, you learn how to identify warning signs, and avoid these people, if you at all can.


filesnation_by_lindale_ff-da1kplo.png



Andron Taps Forum Mod

Faktrl is Best Pony

261,592 XP

10th September 2007

4 Uploads

21,746 Posts

1,754 Threads

#5 10 months ago
Posted by Lindale I STILL work in retail, and it only makes me more and more cynical every day. I hate every moment of dealing with people. I especially hate the ones who feel physical contact is necessary. I hate being touched, plus, I have weapons training. That is not a very good combination. Earlier today, a customer grabbed my arm, and I instinctively reached for my knife. I am just glad I realized what was happening before I did anything.

Egh...I never understood why people think that's ok.  Many times people (usually co-workers or managers) would tap me on the shoulder or sneak around the corner and make me jump.  For some reason they were always confused by my reaction.  Well, first off, we're not friends and I don't know you very well, so this type of contact is not kosher.  If you're going to give me a friendly shoulder slap at least have the courtesy to face me and telegraph this action.  The worst part though is when I'd be using tools or sensitive equipment.


But to answer your question, the first step is to see if this is genuinely the person's real behaviour. I once had a teacher who we all called "The Homework Queen," because she believed that the amount of homework should be equal to the amount of work you did at school. On the other side, I had a teacher who genuinely cared about everyone, and I thrived under her. So, you learn how to identify warning signs, and avoid these people, if you at all can.

Like I said, both examples have happened, but it's often difficult to tell real behavior.  People present an outward image that - nine times out of ten - is not who they really are in private.  Now that's totally fine; I don't require or ask that you reveal your deepest, darkest secrets or traits, but if you want something from me, you're more likely to get it if you don't lie or tiptoe around the issue.  I suppose it's a matter of misunderstanding.  I never really can tell just what a person wants or thinks by their mere appearance unless it's an extreme emotion.  The same goes for verbal communication.  So many times I will have to repeat a question - or ask them to repeat a question - because their response is something vague like, "Ehm...yuh, guess so," or a series of grunts or, sometimes, just a blank stare.  JUST STOP MUMBLING AND TELL ME WHAT YOU HAVE TO TELL ME IN PLAIN ENGLISH!


It's no wonder companies insist candidates have excellent communication skills.  Nothing's more upsetting than lack of direction or muddled direction, especially in areas where safety is important.  If I had a nickel for every time I've been told, "No, you don't do it that way you do it this way," when you never told me how to do it that way in first place I'd never have to work again. 


"I'd shush her zephyr." ~ Zephyr.



Nemmerle Forum Mod

Voice of joy and sunshine

298,365 XP

26th May 2003

0 Uploads

28,147 Posts

5 Threads

#6 10 months ago
Posted by Adrian Ţepeş

I have become extremely cautious as of late in selecting professors.  In the past, so many have either started out as total cunts or as people who seemed decent only to turn into complete assholes.  The latter example has cost me quite a bit of time and money, not to mention emotional and psychological exhaustion.  But it's not just college professors; other students and people in general have often tricked me into thinking I could relate to them or enjoy their company.  At first, they present a decent enough image and intelligence, but over time I quickly discover their thoughts are incredibly boring and their behaviors and attitudes atrocious.  By that same token, the opposite has happened as well.  So I guess I'm just asking for advice or an evaluation: am I just a fool when it comes to social interaction and judging people?  Or is this just a normal part of life and it's a risk you have to take?

Being good at judgement is a question of how efficiently you can use information. If you're forming a firm judgement of someone's characters based on very fleeting interaction, then that's a hard problem even for people who have a high degree of emotional intelligence. 

If you practice reading people, what you want to do is establish a baseline of their body language and then see how that varies in different contexts. Even then though, mostly what you're looking at is whether they're comfortable with the subject rather than intuiting in any real detail how they feel. Based on the fact that they're uncomfortable you might form guesses about why they're uncomfortable, and how many guesses you form sets an upper limit on your ability to put yourself in other people's shoes.... (it dictates whether your solution space is likely to contain an accurate description.)  and then you test those guesses and that's how you get to know someone without relying on overt actions on their part to reveal their character. (All in the knowledge that you might have guessed wrong tonguez.gif )


You're talking about whether you're good or bad about something that:


A) Can't be done too quickly with any high degree of confidence 

And 

B) Kinda depends why you think the things you do. A rough metric for which in terms of social intelligence is how often you notice someone's uncomfortable with an item of discussion and how effectively you use that observation to generate a wide range of guesses.


The easiest insulating way to go about this is to reserve initial judgement. Which you can totally do. If you don't hurry to form opinions of people's characters, go into things without expectations contingent on their being nice or arseholes, then if it goes well - happy days, and if it goes poorly, oh well. Ya' know? Assume good intent, but don't make what you do depend on being right about that.


The other ameliorating factor is that this is totally a skill you can develop. Talk to someone you know about something you know they enjoy talking about, or at least don't find uncomfortable, note down their behaviours when they're talking. Learn to really see what people are doing whilst they're talking, it becomes easier the more you do it! (and listen! - people don't pay as much attention to tone of voice as they do the motions of their face.) And don't just look at their faces. People learn to lie with their faces very readily. Look at their legs. Look at their arms. Look at their hands. What do they do with their legs when they're comfortable, where do they point their feet? You can lie with your face, you can lie with your eyes, you can lie with your tone of voice... very few people are skilled at lying with their entire body in a congruent fashion.

It's a practised skill: The contextualisation of comfort and discomfort in terms of body language, what it might mean for that person. 


What that has generally meant in your experience is something close to how you feel about someone in the absence of other data. But that's a lower-probability indicator, if you're interested in getting to know people you want to establish their baseline behaviours with something comfortable as soon as possible and then watch for the changes....


All of which said, to answer the question: Socially, are you a fool? You're probably average. Most people don't consciously develop their ability to read people and most people aren't very good at it because they go around kidding themselves that they know just based on how they feel about someone. That's not no data, indeed on casual association it's often as good a reason as you're going to get in terms of someone, but it's not much data either. Most people are pretty bad at this. But for most people it doesn't matter too much if they're wrong either - so take that for whatever it's worth tonguez.gif




Last edited by Nemmerle 10 months ago

Mr. Matt VIP Member

#BanRadioActiveLobster

356,406 XP

17th June 2002

7 Uploads

33,654 Posts

779 Threads

#7 10 months ago

You aren't an adult until you realise that "good judge of character" is a misnomer.


No such thing exists. All you can ever do is mitigate risk.


You don't live inside other people's brains. You can never truly know them. Doesn't matter if we're talking about friends, family, college professors, dick analysts (that's a thing, right?) or anything else. Everybody has the potential to become a cockwomble, and the more you trust them, the more it will hurt.

You'll get burnt. It's inevitable. If you're lucky, it will be over something petty like trusting somebody to look after your goldfish. If you're unlucky, you'll disappear from GF for a year.

You can't 'read' trustworthiness. One day, despite your best judgement, you'll implicitly trust somebody, and they'll let you down. They'll fuck you over (or fuck four other people at once), and you'll never see it coming. You can't see it coming.

Don't let the bastards grind you down, though. You have to gamble once in a while or you won't be able to live. Society is built on trust. Relationships are too. They wouldn't work without it. Don't let nefarious twats break society.

But, also be sensible. Don't let yourself be taken in by the idea that you can fully trust anybody - you can't. We're all human. We all have our own wants and needs. We'll all push you over to get them.

Once you understand that, you'll be much better at navigating life.

In other words, do whatever the fuck you think is the right thing to do. Just rationally consider your own best interests first.




Last edited by Mr. Matt 10 months ago