Let others reveal themselves.
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” – Abraham Lincoln
Disclaimer — this tactic is not for everyone, even though it is based upon the advice from Abraham Lincoln.
In our life, we often come across the situation where we are not sure if we can trust someone else or not. Even if we actively approach the person and ask many questions to find how he/she is, they don’t always express their true self — because asking many questions would often be considered as intimidating and can make the other side quite defensive.
Instead of being aggressive, we can TEMPORARILY put ourselves in a passive mode and pretend as if we knew nothing. In other words, we give someone else the power to take initiative. Then observe carefully.
Are they caring about others or just egocentric? Do they focus on the best interest of others or only themselves? Are they talking about what others want to hear from them, or what they want to talk to others? We can see many things if we let someone else take initiative.
The same tactic can be applied to a business relationship. Although making an agreement in writing beforehand is always the best practice, we can learn a lot about the counterpart if we TEMPORARILY let them take initiative. Are they trying to create a win-win situation or a win-lose situation? Are they forcing us to do more work with less pay, or even for free? Do they use our work for the purpose we didn’t agree before and try to make money without paying a commission or a license fee to us? We wouldn’t know these aspects if we just aggressively approach them.
But — this is a big BUT — as I emphasized the word “temporarily” twice, we will have to say NO to the counterpart in the end if what we observed is not acceptable to us. That’s why and this tactic is not for everyone; not everyone is good at (or prefers) giving a polite but firm NO.
While there are many good people and companies, some people and companies are very evil. This is the fact we need to swallow in our life. And we need to have an effective tactic to distinguish good from bad. What’s your tactic?