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How To Deal With Difficult People

Hanlon’s razor principle

“Never attribute to bad intentions that which is adequately explained by ignorance, incompetence, negligence, misunderstanding, laziness or other probable causes”

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”

Robert J Hanlon
Hanlon’s Razor Explained
  • We tend to associate completely disconnected events in a unique way, fitting them into our ‘story’, the narratives we build to create our distorted version of reality.
  • The patterns we think exist may not actually do so, but that does not stop us from assuming negative intent or malice in all that happens around us.
  • We need to realize that the world does not revolve around us and try to approach situations and events in a neutral, objective manner.
The Way To Apply Hanlon’s Razor

The basic rules that we need to apply:

  1. Move from assuming bad intentions towards exploring other causes.
  2. Engage in active communication.
  3. Embrace opportunities.
  4. Stay positive and driven.
  5. Stop blaming and focus on creative problem-solving.
  6. Assume a neutral, unbiased position.

Hanlon’s razor is a potent mental model which can be used in any situation where our first instinct is a negative assumption. Any wrong hypothesis related to the bad intentions of others is counterproductive and can play havoc in our lives.

4 different types of difficult people
  • The Downers (the Negative Nancys): almost impossible to please, they always have something bad to say. They complain, critique and judge. 
  • The Know It Alls: The...
Disengaging difficult personalities

Don't try changing people, try understanding them.

When you try to change someone they tend to resent you, dig in their heels, and get worse. The way to disengage a difficult person is to try understanding where they are coming from.

Finding The Value Language

When trying to understand difficult people, search for their value language.

A value language is what someone values most. It is what drives their decisions. For some people it is money; for others, it is power or knowledge.

About Fear
About Fear
  • Most people are in the dark about their fears. The unknown, random and unwanted scenarios or events that could happen in the future, forms the general anxiety known as fear. This can include...
The Colours Of Fear

Fear has the tendency to divide and isolate us, to shrink us to a tiny version of ourselves. Other negative emotions like jealousy, resentment, anger, bitterness and self-pity also have their roots in fear.

Some fear is good, like staying away from things or activities that can endanger us, but most fear is psychological and a false shadow inside our heads.

“Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.”

“Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.”