Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Challenge Versus Threat

Your client has been badly injured in a car accident that you allege was caused by the faulty repair work of her automobile dealership. Your client's injuries are quite serious--her recovery will take months and she will incur substantial medical bills--but you are unsure if you can prove the repair shop's liability. You file suit nevertheless, seeking $750,000 in damages. The automobile dealership's insurance company contacts you to see if a negotiated settlement can be reached, in the course of which you drop your original demand to $300,000 and the insurance company counters by offering you $25,000 in damages. How should you advise your client? People on the lower end rarely get depressed and are generally stable emotionally, while those on the upper end of the extroversion spectrum enjoy meeting new friends and being the center of admiration and attention. They are also very energized around people and do not like to be by themselves. Furthermore, they rarely think before speaking and tend to be talkative. Individuals that are not extroverted find social gatherings tiring, like to be alone, and find small talk unnecessary. Conscientious people love to keep things in order, have astonishing self-control, value timeliness, and set and meet deadlines. Those on the lower end of the conscientiousness scale are the people who go with the flow, do things on impulse, and procrastinate. After a considerable amount of research, experts who focused on personality psychology found that the five traits listed above are: Although the traits may increase or decrease as you age, they stay pretty much the same in adulthood. As interesting and seemingly positive as personality psychology is, it also has a dark side. Regardless of where you live, you must have met one or more bad people. The fourth option is when you lose your audience and they surreptitiously look at their cell phones or imagine what they're going to have for dinner. Instead of loading your slides with text, let the image do the talking. Recently I was training employees at a successful event management company to pitch successfully and win more opportunities to organize conferences, events, and parties. Each staff member had to create and present a dummy pitch. Many presented densely packed slides containing more text than the Bible.

These people were suddenly transformed from lively, outgoing professionals to robotic, static readers. This was easily remedied, however, because one thing events companies often have in their arsenal is fantastic imagery. Photos from huge parties with fire eaters and acrobats. Images from weddings held at gorgeous sun-drenched foreign locations with attendees savoring the event of a lifetime. Professional photography from lavish corporate events with great lighting and sets so elaborate they could only be staged in aircraft hangars. Obviously, that decision depends on how optimistic you are that you will win in court and how high you expect the award to be. You do your homework and come up with the following prediction: You expect that you have a 60 percent chance of winning and that the jury would award your client an estimated $260,000. Multiplying the two gives you the expected value of going to court (for simplicity we will not take other costs, such as legal fees, into consideration and assume that you and your client are risk neutral). It is $156,000. Thus, you should accept any settlement offer higher than $156,000 and go to court otherwise. This is what my Harvard students conclude, on average, after reading a detailed fifteen-article case description. Or, at least, this is what the half of them tasked with representing the plaintiff decides. The other half represents the defendant. What do they decide to do? The defendant, of course, has to decide what settlement amount to offer and when it is in their interest to go to court. In fact, you have probably met more bad people than good. What makes these people bad? Their personality? When people talk about psychology, they mostly talk about the positive and beneficial aspects. Countless articles that explain how you can use practices like mindfulness to influence your thoughts and behaviors;

It is important to note that humans are sometimes not in control of their actions, but they often believe they are. Therefore, you may be exhibiting a behavioral pattern that falls on the dark side of psychology without realizing it. Dark psychology can be regarded as both a mental construct and the study of humans' psychological inclination to take advantage of others, based on certain psychological, psychopathic, and psychopathological drives. The tendency to prey upon others is common to all humans, but the drive is stronger in some people. While many of the human population generally restrain themselves from acting on these selfish and pathological tendencies, many people act on them. The same principle applies outside the event industry, too. If you're telling a personal story of a trip you took, bring the talk to life by showing a photo. Do you have a story about a relative? Include their picture. Maybe you work in the data industry? Share graphs that tell a story and are easy to interpret, and supplement the data with your message. There are some great sites online with free photography you can use, several of which are listed in the Resources section (here ). You can even use comic images, provided you have a license to display them. The right photo can convey a mood, a vibe, a feeling, or an emotion. Give the image its own full slide and allow your spoken words to complement what's on screen. My students representing the defendant, on average, predict that the plaintiff has about a 40 percent chance of winning a jury award of about $180,000. For them, the expected cost of going to court is $72,000. Put differently, a risk-neutral defendant should make settlement offers up to $72,000 and take the case to court otherwise. How is it possible that the two parties come up with such vastly different estimates? In real life, you might conclude both sides have different pieces of information available to them.

But in this exercise plaintiffs and defendants were given identical information as to the facts, witness statements, and the law. Any differences in their estimates must be based on how they interpreted the information provided. In their differing conclusions you see their biased assessments of the same information. The plaintiff's attorneys paid particular attention to the information favoring their client's claims while the defendant's representatives focused on facts supporting their side. What is more, this biased assimilation of information affected their judgments despite the fact that they were asked explicitly to assume that they were a neutral outside observer familiar only with the accident facts, witness statements and the law. The study of dark psychology is based on these people who cannot or do not want to train their impulses and refrain from acting on their deepest desires. History and everyday life are full of examples of people who act ruthlessly, selfishly, and malevolently. Dark psychology aims to understand the thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and motivations that build up to predatory behaviors in many people. Psychology experts have assigned different names to the dark tendencies in humans. Under an umbrella term, these tendencies are referred to as the dark traits. There are nine, but most people know of one (Narcissism) because of its popularity and misconception in mainstream media. The nine dark personality traits are: Machiavellianism Moral disengagement Psychological entitlement Yes, it will require a little extra work to create the commentary and to memorize your key points, but the effect will be so much more impactful. If you have to create a slide deck or presentation, think about how you can let your images take center stage. It may not possible on every single article or slide, but wherever you can, make it easy for your audience to stay engaged. Keep It Light for Texting We're so lucky to have a variety of ways to communicate with those around us.

We can meet in person, on video, via a voice call, and, of course, through text and instant messages. But not every form of communication is created equal, and each has its uses. If you have something important to say or if there is a risk of misinterpretation, I highly recommend using voice or video to communicate. With text, even the most harmless message can turn into a monstrosity. A client of mine, Belinda, was chatting with an old friend, Riley, who's a mother of two children. They were unable to do so. Once they knew who they represented, they could no longer assess information objectively but fell prey to a self-serving bias. Based on the numbers I gave you--the plaintiff seeking $156,000 to stay out of court, the defendant offering $72,000 to stay out of court--it is doubtful that the two parties will reach agreement. However, what I presented to you are average numbers, based on more than 900 students who have participated in this exercise. Over the years there have been less optimistic plaintiffs and more pessimistic defendants who managed to settle out of court. In fact, a bit more than half did so for an average settlement value of about $130,000. The real case the exercise is based on, by the way, settled out of court for $175,000 after twenty months of negotiations. The price of succumbing to self-serving bias can be high. It tends to prolong disputes, make the parties more hostile, and lead to impasses or costly resolutions in court. Wouldn't it be better if we could de-bias people before they begin negotiating and help them form more accurate judgments? Psychopathy Self-interest Spitefulness These nine traits form what is regarded as the dark personality core. However, Psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and Narcissism are regarded as the darkest of the nine traits, and together, they make up what is known as the Dark Triad.

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