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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Nice guys, average guys, and sociopaths XIV

SITUATION: Warren Buffett gives a speech to a group of business school students.

Nice guy: Listens to the speech attentively and marvels at Buffett’s wit as well as his skill in accumulating so much wealth.

Average guy: Asks a question during the Q&A session, marvels at the sight of fifty billion on the hoof, and thinks, if only he would give me one thousandth of what he has.

Sociopath: After the speech is over, bulls his way to the front of the crowd, clasps Buffett’s hand and pumps it vigorously, holding on several seconds too long. Tells Buffett what a devoted follower he is, and asks if he can interview him for the college magazine (which in fact he doesn’t write for), hoping to wangle a job.

SITUATION: You are a Wall Street bond salesman. Your firm has some unwanted bonds they need to unload. Triple commissions are promised to the salesman who can sell them.

Nice guy: Ignores the edict, and doesn’t show the bonds to his customers.

Average guy: Quietly tells his customers not to buy the bonds. Lets his customers know he is foregoing triple commission by telling them this, and uses this to enhance his leverage and credibility with his customers.

Sociopath: Phones his customers and tells them he has a great deal for them, but they have to act quickly if they want to get the bonds; emphasizes that they know him well enough by now to trust him on this one.

SITUATION: A middle manager at a corporation is presented with a time-wasting, impossible assignment from upper management. How does he react?

Nice guy: Protests to upper management, and tries to convince them that this is not a reasonable, productive task; sticks up for his troops.

Average guy: Argues weakly with upper management that the assignment is not warranted, then argues management's viewpoint with his troops.

Sociopath: Accepts the order enthusiastically, saying it's an excellent idea. When the assignment turns out poorly, blames his troops, fires a couple of scapegoats, then manfully accepts the blame in such a way as to make clear it was really not his fault.

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