Beware hidden personality traits
When I meet someone new, I like to look for exaggerated personality traits. It is here, that I can find the truth about a person. Much of who we are and what we do is a reaction of equal and opposite proportion. Take for instance a Sales Director I used to work for. On the surface, he was the nicest person you have ever met. Think a born again Christian who has done a line of coke. Over the top positive energy. Loved spreading the good word about meditation, positive thinking and spreading love. But I could sense that this wasn’t his true self. It showed at times when he was sitting in silence. A look of contempt at a colleague behind their back. A joke that had an edge of nastiness. So long story short, it turned out this guy was an utter psycho. He was eventually fired with a laundry list of misdemeanours including bullying and sexual harassment. And no-one saw it coming. This guy had repressed his dark side with an over the top show of kindness — a reaction of equal and opposite proportion. His shadow still lurked beneath the surface. I learned this originally from Robert Greene in the Laws of Human Nature. Many chapters allude to this phenomenon in human behaviour, but chapter 3 “see-through peoples masks” sums it up best. We show our best selves to the world, a mask of sorts, but at times, particularly under stress, cracks start to show. A wise person once told me to take your time when forming an opinion of someone. Your first impression will usually be wrong as it is formed on the basis of a social mask. Time and time again this principle has been shown true to me. The opposite has also turned out to be true. The overly aggressive guy, when in private, turns out to be emotionally sensitive and caring. The control freak feels completely out of control. And the one signalling their virtues is the biggest sinner of all.