This awakening realization has been 17 years in the making – yet it seems so obvious.
Think back to your last interview, date, or business introduction. Were there any emergencies? Any crisis? Any threats to the well-being of you or anyone around you? Any opportunity for the other person to behave totally freely?
Bet the answer is “None of the Above.”
True colors come out when every path is a valid path and no judgements are expected. When the game is played for keeps. When you can see the end of the tit-for-tat game.
17 years ago I started playing the first real MMORPG out there – Ultima Online. Back then it made perfect sense that as a requirement to join some guilds/player cooperatives you were taken on a couple of “trial hunts” out in the wilderness or dungeons of the game. If you’re going to trust someone with your alter-ego-life, then you might want to put them in situations where you depend on them slowly. If the person turns out the be incompatible, your losses are smaller. It just makes sense.
Invariably during one of these “trial hunts” everything would turn ugly; this was never on purpose, just the nature of things. The monsters would overwhelm the group, or a rival group would show up and start a war. That’s when you got to see the real people you were dealing with. Did they run and hide? Did they steal from fallen comrades? Were they ninja-looting? Did they not follow instructions and cause chaos? Did they assist? How did they assist? Did they organize a rescue? How did they handle loss? How did they handle their defeat and others defeats? What were they most worried about? How did they recover? Did they enjoy the game or the final outcome? How did they measure their own actions? What did they think of others?
All these questions were easily answered after everything had gone to shit and back. Most potential “responses” to these situations were valid and acceptable – and a few were not. The keys were freedom of action and the knowledge that the game was for keeps – If they lost stuff, they lost stuff, if they were attacked they could die, if they stole something they would get to keep it. All actions were valid, but some were better choices.
You could spend six hours talking to a person in the game, or 20 minutes in a crisis situation – and the crisis would give you a more accurate readout every single time.
I don’t think we do enough of this in our daily lives. Of course we don’t live in a fantasy land, or in constant danger. Still we don’t really put anyone under any sort of stress to see how they perform. And while the military does this as routine, the goals are very different – I am not solidifying and testing conditioned responses against a set that I expect. I expect nothing – I want to see the true self of a person. I want to let them tell me who they really are.
I wish I could come up with a way to test people in the way that true emergencies test you.
I can imagine a handful of ways to test people off the top of my head. Imagine being at a job interview and then then being told some xyz emergency and they needed you. Or going on a date and leave your wallet on the table when you go to the restroom. I wonder how many more methods we could come up with.
For now you might as well flip a coin.