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Snakes in the Grass
Life's Lessons Learned The Hard Way: Get Over It!
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by Gary G. Ballard, San Diego photojournalist, ethics blogger
The best quote I heard about business advice as a young man came during the movie The Spanish Prisoner when Steve Martin’s scammer character said to the sucker:
- “Always do business as if the person you're doing business with is trying to screw you, because most likely they are, and if they're not, you can be pleasantly surprised.”
Years later, I was discussing this philosophy with a respected mentor, a high-powered corporate creative officer, he said:
- “No, no. My father told me to 'only do business with people you like and trust.'”
Somewhere between the two mind-sets lies the secrets to preventing one of life’s hardest lessons (unfairly getting screwed over) and ensuring its greatest rewards a successful career, like a successful marriage, begins with picking the right people.
So then how do honest hard-working "nice people" choose ethical partners and not fall victim to scammers, liars, cheaters, backstabbers, haters, thugs, crooks, thieves, predators, bullies, abusers, users and losers?
And just as important: How to spot bad people early on and get over being wronged?
In The Spanish Prisoner It's the oldest con in the book, the snake-in-the-grass character (Jimmy Dell) again provides sage insight into the con-gamer's world. He uses his money, intelligence and charisma to manipulate and win his victim's trust by appearing to be a trustworthy friend and mentor. For example, he offered up this remarkable observation to his mark:
- “People aren't that complicated, Joe, good people, bad people, they generally look like what they are.”
So open your eyes and ears and pay attention to the warning signs! They may not be as obvious as a rattlesnake shaking its tail, but the consequences of blind faith, blind love and blind loyalty can be as sobering up to reality as venom oozing from a fresh snake bite.
The shark mentality: In the movie dialog below, con man Jimmy Dell continues to feed the victim great mentoring advice about human nature in the real business world in a successful effort to win his trust so he could steal from him. Joe Ross had developed a valuable formula for his employer and thief Jimmy was setting him up to steal it from him:
- “I think you’ll find that if what you’ve done for them is valuable, as you say it is -- if they are indebted to you morally, but not legally -- my experience is they will give you nothing. And, they will begin to act cruelly toward you.”
“Why?” Joe responded.
- “To suppress their guilt,” Jimmy added.
To suppress their guilt, that universal wisdom is truly profound in understanding why people act like jerks, and so unfolds the basic human psychology at work when people steal from you or take advantage of you, and then become abusive, argumentative, dismissive, uncooperative, antagonistic and/or cruel to get rid of you.
The best lessons I've learned by personal experience about how to successfully read shady people, users and losers are:
- TRUST your gut instinct -- you are probably correct.
- IGNORE everything suspects SAY and scrutinize their ACTIONS.
- Invest a little time searching the Internet for public records, reviews and complaints against the people and companies you wish to trust and do business with for clues about their character and how they have treated people in the past.
You may have to dig for information about how to access arrest records and such; simply adding "complaint" or "grievance" to an Internet search may hit key pieces of the human personality puzzle. Professional investigators may also be hired to do background checks on business, corporations and individuals.
Just think about all the hard working people that news organizations allege President Donald Trump screwed over it must be his crowning glory to rub his presidential victory in their faces, and their ultimate irony in life to be blacklisted by the President of the United States. Sorry, Mr. President Trump, no offense.
My own personal hard luck story about getting screwed and having my face rubbed it is posted on my website: www.sycuanbandofthieves.com.
Hindsight is the greatest teacher after the fact, but you can never know someone's Spiritual character until they show their true colors. For example, a chameleon changes its colors to deceive others, and a snake in the grass bites you because he's a snake it's in his DNA it is the nature of the animal.
FREE HIGH-RESOLUTION SNAKE POSTER DOWNLOADS: 1) Original large rattle "Snake In The Grass" art posters close-up. 2) "No, no, if you help me, you will be my best friend. I will treat you differently." 3) "If you don't check the grass for snakes it's hard to complain about being bitten."
- “No, no,” the snake said. “If you help me, you will be my best friend. I will treat you differently.”
- Young naive "Girl and the Snake" folktale
IS SOMEONE BULLYING YOU OR STEALING FROM YOU? WHY?
First, it is important to understand the psychological nature of Dishonesty | Bullying | Cheating | Victim Blaming | Corruption and Bad Faith because bad people shamelessly lie to and prey on nice people.
Let's also be clear about Integrity | Fair Play | Honesty | Ethics | Morality and Good Faith because good people and the Rule of Law are society's protectors against life's scumbags.
- “If you're horrible to me, I'm going to write a song about it, and you won't like it. That's how I operate.”
- Taylor Swift (singer, 1989-)
Okay, then how should good people react when dishonest or abusive people or corrupted company officials try to bully or cheat them in the business world?
With a family to support or if you love your work and want to be able to earn a living doing it the best advice would seem simple: You suck it up and move forward with tight lips and eyes fixed firmly on the goal.
Do not be a whistleblower, a troublemaker or a plaintiff in a lawsuit unless you want to carry a disgruntled employee stigma on your work record because it will surely adversely affect your family's pocketbook and ruin your professional relationships.
On the other hand, you may be thinking about doing something crazy like asking someone for an explanation, speaking up for yourself to higher ups, writing a grievance letter, protesting on a public blog, filing a lawsuit, crawling under a rock and dying, or going after revenge but beware any one of these moves can be career suicide in unfair working environments and get the victim blacklisted regardless of clear and convincing evidence proving who's right or wrong.
That would seem to be why legal disputes like wrongful termination, whistle-blower, race and age discrimination suits are so heavily weighted in the justice system, because they tend to destroy a person's psyche and livelihood.
“In looking for people to (do business with), look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don't have the first, the other two will kill you.”
- Warren Buffett (Businessman, 1930-), (respectfully edited by G BALLARD)