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The Laws of Human Nature Book by Robert Greene

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This is another large book which I would highly recommend.  Outlines that all humans came from tribes and the impact of behaviour of others emotionally can affect your own behaviour. Guidance such as allowing you to make other people feel more powerful and interpret cues about why they are behaving in such a way. Attempts to bring together well cited literature from a variety of fields and provides stories of famous people such as politicians, writers, speakers analysing these stories to reinforce learning points.

Rationality versus irrationality, breaks this down to a number of levels.  Nationality cultural thinking contribute to thought process, later in book explains you may have more in common with someone of your age generation from a different country than an older generation.  Realise you have things bubbling inside you and when you become emotional it is harder to objectively grade things so you may become more irrational.

Explains confirmation bias; seeking information that confirms what you want to hear to confirm your conviction. We tend to then block out other logical arguments that we don’t want to hear, so be aware of this and try not to do it. Touches on halo bias, in terms of seeing somebody as attractive therefore they are moral.

If somebody is acting in a slightly childishly in the way they speak or react in a situation this may relate to previous childhood issues, they may or may not knowingly themselves have the insight to attribute the cause to this. Have caution if you have rapid gains or losses, apply pessimism in attributed the cause of this, the cause may not be directly due to you.

Discover irrationality (which is always going to be present in society) by firstly looking inward to yourself and ways you may not be acting rationally and explore why this is. Accept people as they are and don’t judge them. If you are thinking of doing something whilst emotional such as responding to an email or undertake a major decision give yourself more time.  Sleep on the question, think about it and then perform the action when you’ve had more time to reflect on the potential consequences of this.

Narcissism in childhood can be mistaken as being sociable but tends to unravel when aged 20s to 30s as a constant desire for attention and also inability to apply focus. Leads to more erratic behaviour, often to get attention and a desire to control others, who they treat as pawns to provide attention and praise. The narcissists have an ongoing requirement for this attention due to an inability of their inner selves to provide their own stability.

Empathy can be enhanced by attempting to understand others. The risk of having too much empathy is you may mistakenly think that you know what others think. Outlines an example of a narcissist who initially is extremely charming and appears empathetic however this is superficial charm. Narcissistic charm is superficial charm which can be identified by analysing it.  The worry is that after they a narcissist gains power they then want people to follow them rather than focusing on others, cites Stalin as an example. 

Give an example of Shackleton motivating his team when stranded on Elephant Island.  Learning point is you should stop your internal monologue and observe others more and not just what they say how they behave and this will give you a massive insight into human nature.

Small amount of history about Dr Erickson, psychiatrist and key figure in hypnotherapy, the key is to look for micro changes to body language that alter from the baseline of that individual in the context of their social norms. By raising awareness of your own body language and others you will benefit by predicting mood and potentially avoiding unnecessary confrontation. Suggest a game of quietly observing groups of people and predicting their moods and backgrounds.

Outline skills in social interactions such as how to determine if somebody likes you are not. A real smile is seen around eyes as well as the mouth, if you’re wondering if somebody is being false you can surprise them by appearing from their periphery watch for micro changes in reaction from their baseline split second before they put on their ‘fake smile’. If somebody is extremely smooth and  immediately charming they may in fact be trying to seduce you (for their own gain) they often can establish synchrony extremely quickly, to make you feel you like them.  To detect this step back or withdraw slightly for a few moments and you may pick a micro changes of their reactions which can be very telling (i.e. just go a bit slower with them and the interaction).

Book suggests character is the most important thing when hiring.  With good character you can adapt, learn, not take criticism personally and complete tasks. Interestingly lists in detail many different character faults and toxic traits and relates these to various childhood events.  Suggests that when people let out an outburst that they then apologise and say they were acting out of character this is not the case.  In fact this is their true character coming through.

Do not focus on what you want, focus on fulfilling dreams of others. It is the journey obtaining what you want that provides the good feeling, not obtaining it.

The grass is always greener when people get what they want they don’t feel overly satisfied. You can apply this principle to friendship, it’s important to hold things back and being at times mysterious so that you can sustain friendships and remain interested.

The cobra effect is a well intended plan that has unintended consequence, was named by people giving money for dead cobras to clear cobras which led to people breeding these snakes. Short-term thinking the main consequence of this is unintended consequences.  It’s Human Nature to be thinking short term and not really a good thing.

Aim to surround yourself with people who think in the long-term. View from higher up the mountain can often lead you to detect potential unintended consequences of well intended actions before they occur. Filter out non important things so that you can focus on the major things deliberately.  Do not be like the Spanish king who was worrying about toilet seats placement in his house as much as and war. Try to filter out minor things so you’re focusing on the most essential important things.

Use reverse psychology; people generally want three things

1. to feel like they’re doing good

2. to feel intelligent

3. to feel their opinion matters.

If you want somebody to do things on your behalf try to make them know the task is sought after by others and that they have been generous to you in the past and you value their opinion (playing to their nature).

How the mind perceives things can dictate what occurs as every human has a different view of reality.  For example if you are suspicious of people you will be prone to detect suspicious things, whereas if you are positive and trusting you will see the good in others and trust them more.  You get what you look for. People respond to you directly related to your attitude, it is your attitude that you can control.  A positive open attitude in which you are willing to try new things clearly is better than a negative narrowed attitude.

Outlines dealing with certain types of people.  If dealing with very aggressive people do not give aggression back to them, otherwise this will fuel their aggression. People who are anxious should focus on a project, that they have some control over and deliberately push themselves to lose control of other things allowing them to become more flexible and less anxious.

Everyone has a dark side to the personality, this book refers to this as ‘the shadow’.  In essence if you see somebody who is doing something contradictory to what they usually perform like and perhaps blaming it on alcohol or some external force, this could be there underlying shadow coming through.  Think Doctor Jekyll & Mister Hyde. Be aware you have a shadow, acknowledge that you’ve got one and try to understand it to utilise it for the better. When you are younger it is harder to repress your shadow

Envy can be detected by poisonous praise; for example if you’ve just lost something they may say ‘that was such a nice … you’ve lost what a shame’, if you’ve had success they may say ‘well that’s a lot of money you’ll have made from …’ when money may not have been the motivation. A potential downfall of success is people may subsequently think that they are better than they actually are and forget about the help of others.

With any victory or success take note of all the other factors such as contributions from others so that you stay grounded and humble. Do not then go on to become arrogant and suffer a great fall. The key is to not suffer from grandiosity. Utilise you’re likely desire for grandiosity by focusing on one project at a time that’s slightly more challenging than the last.  Do not fall into the trap of thinking you can do everything or thinking that you can do great things much above your skill level. Slowly build from one thing at a time, learning from each one

Stresses the importance of a sense of purpose in life.  Mentions Martin Luther King and Coco Chanel as examples, suggests you should surround yourself with people who have a sense of purpose.  In particular try to replicate the methods in which they undertake practical steps to obtain their purposeful goal. Break goals into chunks and follow the higher sense of purpose.  Be focused on the job in hand not chasing pleasure.  If you can get into a state of flow whilst in your job then you can achieve great things focus on the work and the pleasure of this rather than the potential money or fame.

Gives a fascinating story about group mentality.  Communist rising in China, a rising occurs by overthrowing authority it was then restructured causing more destruction. Learn your role if you’re in a group.  Always try to question the actual thinking behind the group and don’t deliberately non conform with a group but do be tactical in what you actually follow. A group is easier to control than single minds.  In any large group various subgroups will occur, often splitting up into people who are more like each other in their subgroups.

Leadership to do this provide vision & lead toward goals, this power can go very quickly when mistakes occur.  One needs to lead with both empathy and vision.  Uses the example of Queen Elizabeth the first.  Respect others and allow them to want to support you by establishing trust, if you don’t do this then friction and / or ambivalence occurs. Observe others around you and determine who has authority and why. Assess the effect you have on people. Suggest there is a need still for authority and leaders otherwise there’s nothing to rebel against.  Nothing would be progressing without leaders and authority other than just trends.

Aggression, the rise of Rockefeller is discussed and he an example of what the book describes as a ‘complicated aggressor’.  Argues that everybody has levels of aggression and this is often seen with a desire to control others. A hint someone is aggressive is that somebody has lots of enemies.  Often the person would say is not their fault that people have taken dislikes to them. Different degrees of aggression occur; some people can control their aggression this others can’t.  The ones who can control it may rise to the top, the ones who can’t struggle.  Often this relates to their childhood and a reason that could seem not important can trigger and aggressive response. Try not to trigger aggression in others. Rockefeller also had a great sense of purpose, doing what he thought was for the greater good, to gain wealth for which he was willing to bend rules.  In addition he displayed a long term mindset thinking about battles in a long-term and also imposed short time frames on others so they become emotional and made poor decisions. When dealing with an aggressive type try not to become emotional.

Outlines the generational differences that occur and suggests you should be aware of these – when younger embrace the knowledge that older generations have and trying to learn from this. When older don’t be smug about your knowledge and join the younger generations as more of a peer to enjoy the sense of enthusiasm and learn new things. Mentions a 1000BC Slate was discovered that had an engraving mentioning how youths today were really angry.  Book suggests that it the way it is and it is just nature.  The way things are and that you have to realise, if you can realise this and take a step back you’ll benefit. Younger people tend to be more concerned about what external people think of them.  Older people become more concerned about themselves and not willing to learn new things.  Being of these generational concerns is useful so you don’t fall into the same trap.

Finally confront death and realise this will occur to us all.  Mentions story of famous author Flannery O’Connor who had SLE and was aware that she was going to die and inspired others to act with urgency and sense of purpose.  Suggests if you acknowledge death and live each day to the fullest knowing that one day the unknown journey (death) will come to us all. Stops you wasting your time with not important things. If you remind yourself about death it means that you’re able to focus on things around you, observing things in more details such as rays of light bouncing off things rather than being caught up in internal struggles and acting in a self absorbed manner. Being aware of death means that you become better at completing tasks faster.  Note being aware of death is not an excuse to live the day each day as if you have no future, that is just another form of distraction pleasure seeking perform which will not be beneficial.

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