Odds on the Prince

“Thanks, we will call you.”

I believe it when they say that. Unsurprisingly, I am a very literal person. If I said it, I would mean it.

But not everyone means it. I wish I could figure out who did and who didn’t.

I just finished a book You Can Read Anybody. The author, David Lieberman, had a whole system for how to interpret people.

Straight up: People are not thinking about you.

Well, sometimes they are, but only to wonder what you are thinking about THEM.

Of the people who were thinking about themselves–which in his world, was everyone–there are people who are confident and those who are insecure.

The insecure people spend more time trying to present an image to other people, and there are certain ways they can be expected to behave.

It seemed very true to me–but then, I would believe it, wouldn’t I? Literal person that I am–and it seemed very sad.

Are we all really so self-centered and out for ourselves?

Reminds me of another book: The Prince by Machiavelli.

Lieberman’s book makes me feel like everyone else is a poser and trying to impress. I am most certainly not like that…am I?

Machiavelli describes actions he recommends the rulers should take. It’s easy for me to distance myself from this fictional prince. I am not the ruler of anything!

But Machiavelli’s recommendations spring consistently from the most insecure viewpoint. No ruler is ever secure. No ruler can take chances with uncalculated mercy on his or her subjects.

In his world, Princes need to be paranoid and as merciless as a sociopath.

Machiavelli was not a prince. It very well may be easier to advise merciless action than to execute yourself.

Pragmatically speaking, always bet on people’s self-interest. It saddens me to think that people are so predictable along such self-centered lines.

Which may be why I don’t read people well. I want to believe in people.

Or it could be that I am just as self-centered as everyone else, and I want people to agree with MY value judgments.

I’m not that much better than other people. And even these experts might not know everything. Machiavelli had just been fired when he wrote The Prince. It was a gift to his patron to get his job back.

I might get a little better at reading people with these books. I think I’d like to take what I learn and avoid the people who are not straight with me. That’s how I’d like to take my chances.

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