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To ask if you think people are out for what they can get?

8 replies

BogstandardBelle · 19/10/2018 12:38

Rather clumsily worded, but inspired by one of the UC threads.

My closest work colleague is mostly great to work with, but there's one aspect of her personality / approach that I am really struggling with. She clearly believes that the other people in our workplace are out to get away with whatever they can, and that unless she watches them like a hawk they'll be taking advantage and trying to get one over on her. We're in a small (kind-of) business, she does all the HR / salaries / timesheets etc. Whenever someone calls in sick or needs a day off because their child is ill, her first reaction is always that they are trying it on and that if they'd just tried harder or were more committed, they would have come in.

Are people mostly like this? I know I'm not, I tend to trust people to do what they've said and assume that they tell the truth, do their best etc. But looking around.. my PIL read the Mail and they always assume the worst of people - politicians, celebrities, etc. It's like they are waiting to be proved right when things like the MP expenses scandal come to light. DH can be a bit like this: when our children do something wrong and we talk to them, his attitude is a bit like "here we are with you letting us down again, I don't know why we expected any better when you keep doing XYZ". And the thread I read - it talked about UC administrators / system assuming that claimants are trying to cheat the system all the time.

So am I being totally naive, and people really are out for what they can get? Or should I persist with my Pollyana attitude and challenge my colleague when she says these things about people?

OP posts:
whycantyouusethephone · 19/10/2018 12:43

Some people are. Not all but some. People are selfish and often take advantage. As an example- Every year I put a barrel of apples in my drive with a notice to take a few for free. Every year I have to watch like a hawk because there are ALWAYS at least two or three people who try to take them all for themselves.

So no yanbu- many people are good, most even, but perhaps your friend has had more experience of those selfish people of the world and her opinion has been changed by it .

medusa83 · 19/10/2018 12:44

Some people are genuinely out for what they can get, some are not. You have to learn to identify between the 2 groups through life experience.

lottiegarbanzo · 19/10/2018 12:44

People project their own motivations onto others. Selfish people think everyone is selfish. Nice people think everyone else is nice too.

Partly, I think, this is because they lack the capacity to 'see how things would be' any other way. So, a selfish person lacks the knowledge and experience, a working model, of being nice, that would allow them to think 'this is what I could feel and do were I feeling nice / this is the nice explanation for that person's behaviour' and vice versa.

SpeckledDot · 19/10/2018 12:44

I think we tend to think more negatively of people if we have encountered that sort of person before.

Sparklesocks · 19/10/2018 12:50

In my experience it’s a real mix, but i try to give people the benefit of the doubt where possible. I think it’s sometimes naive to be trusting and open all the time as people can take advantage, but similarly I don’t think there’s much point in approaching it how your colleague does though - you just make yourself stressed out and a bit angry thinking everyone is out to get you. Balance is best.

lottiegarbanzo · 19/10/2018 12:53

There is a strong link between 'distrust' and right wing views and vice versa. Which makes sense in terms of authoritarian views at least - can't trust them, have to control them. In contrast I've always found socialists' faith in human nature rather naive.

Personally I think feeling distrustful of others all the time, aka having no faith in human nature, is very self-limiting; it leads to a narrow, fearful, over-cautious, unhappy existence. So, for the sake of my own health and happiness, I would not adopt that approach.

That view might provide grounds for feeling rather sorry for your colleague. What does she do when she needs a favour or a friend, if everyone is so selfish and untrustworthy? Assumes the worst and misses out presumably.

longwayoff · 19/10/2018 13:18

I trust pretty much everyone, politicians excepted obviously, until shown otherwise. Then I'm done with them. Certainly don't expect to be turned over as a matter of course by people I've not met before.

NonaGrey · 19/10/2018 13:22

I generally think that everyone in nice and honest but then I read threads like the restaurant undercharging one and realise that actually lots of people think and behave differently.

In my experience if you are honest yourself you expect other people to be honest... the opposite can also be true unfortunately.

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