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Rewarded, Punished, or Ignored: What Do You Want to Be?

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Rewarded, Punished, or Ignored:  What Do You Want to Be?

Within the next few weeks my daughter is going to start college. I remember when she was two or three and people would tease me with warnings of the hell I would experience during her teenage years. Though we’ve had our battles, I’m happy to report that either people didn’t know what they were talking about or I lucked out.  Thankfully she’s been a pretty good kid.

I’d like to think it’s been the values I tried to instill in her while trying to live by a set of values as her father. At some point I established the following hierarchy of or values or house rules to help guide her.

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  1. Self-respect
  2. Respect for others
  3. Family
  4. School
  5. Commitments outside of school
  6. Friends / Social

I made it clear that her ability to live within rules 1 – 5 would dictate her freedom and ability to enjoy # 6. When she kept her priorities in line, she had all the freedom in the world.  When she didn’t have her priorities in line and she wasn’t living by her values, I had to step in.

At some point in her early teenage years I realized I had to stop telling her what to do and what not to do because of me.  I had to talk to her about the benefits she would enjoy with good decision making and the problems she would encounter with poor decision making.

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It was about that time I started talking to her about the concept of “Rewards, Punishments, and Being Ignored.” I would tell her that the world rewards certain thoughts, emotions, and actions.  It punishes certain thoughts, emotions, and actions, and it ignores certain thoughts, emotions, and actions.  I would repeat that it is up to her to figure out what all that stuff means in relation to what kind of life she wants to live.

You must figure out what that stuff means in relation to living the life you want to live.

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Thirteen years ago, I was 23 years old and I decided that I wanted to spend my life teaching, training, coaching, counseling, and/or speaking. With only an associates degree in graphic design, I knew I had some work to do if I was going to reach my goals and more importantly, have the kind of life I wanted to have.

Rewards

  • Attitude: In order to reach my goals I needed to maintain a positive, optimistic, and forward thinking attitude.  I needed to be patient, but focused.
  • Emotions: I needed to be confident that the choices I was making contributed to me reaching my goals. I needed to feel secure with the idea that I had a lot to learn. I needed to not take personally that some of my friends and family didn’t understand what I was trying to do and weren’t supportive at first.
  • Actions: I needed to learn all I could about leadership and this included formal education, working with mentors, and tons and tons of self study.  I needed to consult with mentors who could advise me throughout my journey.  I needed to make the time and financial investment to go back to school and finish my undergraduate degree in a major that aligned with my goals.

Punishments

  • Attitude:  I knew if I wanted to reach my goals I could not have a bad attitude. I couldn’t piss and moan that I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I couldn’t allow my expectations be unrealistic.  I knew if I wanted to help people change their lives I could not complacent with attitude.
  • Emotions:  I knew if I wanted to reach my goals I could not allow myself to become frustrated with myself or the process. I could not consume my mind with worry and self-destructive thoughts. I could not allow people around me who were not supportive to make me feel like what I was doing was wrong, because they didn’t get it.
  • Actions:  If I were going to reach my goals, I could not become stagnant or lazy.  I could not allow my actions to conflict with my words. I could not appear unfocused or confused with what I was doing.

Ignored

If you spend too much time with attitudes, emotions, and actions that get punished or that don’t align with your goals or the life you say you wish to have, eventually you will be ignored by the world around you.  You will be another person who talks a big game, but doesn’t take action.  You will become the person that when you open your mouth, the world around you will give a big ol’ eye roll and shake their heads because they have heard it all before.  You will become insignificant.

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If you want to achieve all that is possible, you must maintain the right attitude and emotions, and you must continue to take the right actions.  Your ability to do so will be the difference between success and failure or meaning and regret.

You have what it takes.  Go get it!

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Featured photo credit: Joris Louwes via flickr.com

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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