Warning People Is A Bad Idea


(Richard Millington) #1

Originally published at: https://www.feverbee.com/warning/
If you lend a friend some money one week and he won’t lend you some money the next, you wouldn’t feel happy.

Your trust has been violated.

But what is trust?

Trust is the belief in indirect reciprocity. You might give something to a group/another person in the belief that they will help you later on. This helped groups survive in hunter-gatherer times. Everyone pooled resources and the group was stronger for it.

However, if a group is filled with too many takers, people will hoard resources instead of sharing. In modern times, this means knowledge, social support, or tangible objects (such as money).

Experts had a taker who constantly violated the group’s norm of indirect reciprocity. He asked for help, but never gave any. He contributed negative emotional states, but never tried to help others through theirs.

We shouldn’t accept this in our social groups any more than we would accept it in our friendship circles.

A group with too many takers simply can’t survive for long. The trust crumples.

You could warn the individual, but they would react negatively.

If you warn them, they will get defensive. If you begin with a warning, they can’t change their behavior unless they implicitly admit their previous behavior was wrong. Not many people want to do that.

It’s far better to take the opposite approach. Use positive language. Create a clear reason based upon noble goals. Make it personal between people.

For example:

“Hey Mike,

I’ve been following your posts for a while.

I think you’re holding back a little and you’re more of an expert than you might think.

We have a few posts that would really benefit from you sharing some of your expertise.

Would you mind helping some people out? I’d really appreciate it”

The goal here is to make it a positive, not a negative. It’s to create a reason (help people). And it’s to make it personal between us. To say no, he has to say it directly to me – he’s not willing to help us out.

And some people will ignore the message. Some will only do it once. But if it works just a handful of times, it’s worth doing.

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