The problem with human nature is that it is so vastly diverse with each of us. When you are meeting a person for the first time, and you really want to impress that person, surely one of the thoughts playing in your mind is what kind of nature that person possesses. At that time, we feel, if we know enough of the person's nature, we could hit it off very well. But if that were the case, almost every transaction in the world concerning several people would always be successes. That doesn't happen, though. And the shortcoming is in understanding human nature.
No, it is impossible to make an assessment of human nature with the first few meetings. What I do is, I always try to tread on the safe path. I deal with people in a very neutral manner, especially when I am meeting them for the first few occasions. Here are some human nature ethics that I have developed for myself.
- I do not give away too much about myself at the first meeting. Even if you do not have any secret to keep, it is not advisable to speak too much about yourself. People might get the impression that you are too imposing, and think too much about yourself. If you are speaking to a group and divulge bits about yourself - personal or professional - there will always be one dark horse in the group who will feel rubbed the wrong way. Experience teaches me not to speak too much about myself with new acquaintances. That way I keep most of my new audiences happy.
- An unspoken human nature ethic is that you will not be overtly inquisitive about other people's personal (and even professional) lives. Questions like what they are working as, and where they live, are alright. But there is a line that must not be crossed. And this applies even when you have made good friends with people. Human nature being what it is, some people will shoot off about their lives at the very first meeting, while some would not tell even their spouses about it.
- Experience has taught me another human nature ethic that I must always adhere to. And that is, I must never be part of a secret involving someone else. It applies both ways - do not hear other people's secrets and do not tell them to anyone else too. Secrets have a nasty way of spreading, and within no time the subject of the secret will come to know who propagated it. This is a sure way of losing a friendship, and a deterrent to make new friends also.
- Be wary of how much help you are taking from someone. You might be at a vulnerable position, such as you might be new to a job or new to a city, but that doesn't mean you will keep asking help from people who are already there. Remember, their lives are going the routine way even if you have undergone a change in circumstances. For them, you might be simply an intrusion in their schedule. Even if some good Samaritans are offering their help to you, be careful how much you ask for.
- Shakespeare said 'Lend everyone thy ear, but very few thy voice.' Nothing can be truer than that. Listen to what everyone has to say - even woes of grandmothers - but the moment you begin giving advice, you are the bad one. Keep this important human nature ethic in mind - do not give advice! Know that there are two sides to every coin. If someone is telling you an incident, the other person involved will have a totally different version to say. You can never be sure whether the person you are speaking with is in the right or the wrong. The best thing is not to get involved in giving advice at all, unless it is close family.
- Live for a couple of years in the business world, and you will certainly learn to be skeptical. Human nature ethics at the workplace are a totally different ballgame from social ethics, but the norms are similar to an extent. Make friends at your workplace, but not enemies. At your workplace, it is best to be yourself rather than putting people on. Sugar-coated talks will only label you as an opportunity-seeker, while remaining reticent could put you in the league of office infrastructure, and not human staff. It is best to be your normal good self when you are in the office. Get involved with every activity, but do not contribute too much to it. Do not bicker, and be appreciative of what you get.