On Humility

Here are a few thoughts I have on humility, or more generally how to communicate and deal with other people.

Life is too short to argue with people over the internet. Seriously. I can’t comprehend how you people have the energy to do this. Work on making stuff instead. Or at least just have fun and live your life. But please — please — it isn’t worth it.

It’s better to be smart and think you’re stupid than to be stupid and think you’re smart. Expectation is dangerous. As the wise men have said, underpromise and overdeliver.

Be nice to people. You can’t get all of them to like you, but you’ll get most of them. You don’t need them all to like you, anyway.

Remember that you can always choose to not respond. You may feel the need to respond, but in reality that need is the excuse created by your pent up frustrations. You can exude that frustration elsewhere, in a safer place. 

Being irritated with someone isn’t going to get you any closer to what you want. In fact, showing your irritation will probably get you farther from where you were. People don’t like it when others are irritated at them. They don’t like it when others are angry at them. Anger causes anger. Try to hide that, from both others and yourself. 

Never speak for other people. Earlier I mentioned making the mistake of getting angry with someone else. The second biggest mistake outside of that is assuming you know what other people want. You never know what other people want. You might have a good enough idea, but never enough to speak for them. Don’t try. 

You can fake being nice to be popular. But it’s a lot easier if you just are. Being a kind person causes you to be kind to yourself. You don’t get that when you fake it. It’s a lot harder to keep up the guise that way — most people can see through you. 

In conflict, whoever gets angry first loses. Anger is the breaking down of all defenses. If a man gets angry in a fight, he stops trying to protect himself and goes all offensive. A smart enough opponent can find a hole much quicker that way. The same thing goes for anger in other places.

Don’t ever punish someone doing something good to you, even if you are agitated with them at the time. It will grow to bite you later on. People hate punishment, and they will do anything to avoid it. If your wife cooks for you, and you come home agitated and deny her, she’ll never do it again. Children are even more sensitive to this. This is why emotional control is so important. 

Attacking messages sound real sweet if they’re on your side. But wait until they aren’t. I get it, it’s hard. It took me years to recalibrate myself to not fall into the drama, to attack people I thought were being rude or unfair. It feels like it needs to happen, but it doesn’t. And when you stop doing it, you realize how much brighter the world can be. 

Childhood is shouting out your opinion. Adulthood is acting upon it. Speak in actions, not in words — it’s the easiest way to get someone to truly listen to what you have to say. 

Focusing on what we agree on versus what we disagree on makes life easier for the whole. It is very easy to disagree, mostly because it’s very easy to get mad. It’s an innate feeling we all get. Agreeing is relatively boring by comparison, but it focuses on our strengths as a whole as opposed to our weaknesses. You’ll notice that if you focus on agreement in the long term, you’ll get much better results than you ever did with disagreement. 

You don’t like people because of their ego. But then you remember you have an ego for yourself. In other words, you see someone on the street that acts like they’re holier-than-thou, and it drives you nuts. But think — how often do you do that yourself? 

Just talk to people. Don’t have an ask. Don’t have a pitch. Just talk. This helps in two regards. Firstly, people like to talk to humans more than networkers. Secondly, if you can’t think of anything to say to a person — don’t speak to them. You’ll save yourself some much needed time.

If you bite people, don’t be surprised when they bite back. Being mean, or rude, or even ignorant, always comes with some sort of consequence. Hedge your bets — be kind to others.

Radiate positive energy, and people will come to you. Even if they don’t want to. This is a key idea many people don’t quite understand. Most people are inclined to think that the main reason to be friendly or happy or kind is just “because it’s the right thing to do”. And sure, perhaps it is. But the better, more resilient reason to be all those things is that people like feeling good, and if you’re the one who makes them feel that way, then they’ll flock to you like moths to a light. 

Treat people like people. Don’t treat them like anything special. Celebrities, authorities, etc. — they’re people just like you. Don’t let them get the better of you by believing in their fictional status. 

Not everything is your fight. Opinions on things, people, ideas, etc. — people will try to pressure you into having some sort of hot take, when most of the time it’s better that you just say “I don’t know” or “I don’t care”. Similar to the “Try not having an opinion” statement. 

If someone says something you don’t like, don’t push back. Ask them a question. One of the best lessons I’ve ever been told in my life is that communication is a lot easier if you only talk by listening. You can defuse complex arguments, get to the bottom of a person’s beliefs, or get them to follow your ideas, if you can just learn to smile, listen, and ask good questions. 

We are trained to have an opinion on everything. Try not having an opinion, just this once. People often fall into the trap of thinking that they need to be an expert on every topic, or take a side on every political issue, or be up to date on every current event. But those are just status games, and believing you know everything about everything is more damaging to you than helpful. If you’re ignorant on a subject, just try admitting your ignorance. It will help you in the long run.

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