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Never be the Sixth Fool

November 28, 2019

There is a saying that there are four types of fools. The fool who announces himself as you are introduced, the one who announces himself at the inception of the conversation, the one who announces himself in the middle of the conversation and the one who announces himself at the end of the conversation.

I have added a fifth. This is the fool who announces himself in the lift as he is leaving the building.

It does not however end there, as I recently discovered. Imagine a person who goes to a psychologist to ask how he can save his marriage. He gives a list of all his complaints and a litany of descriptions of his wife’s faults. He then asks despairingly what the prognosis is for a marriage with such a difficult wife.

This man needs to understand that his wife’s behaviour and how she shows up in the relationship is just a mirror of how he performs in the relationship.

The psychologist points out that from his wife’s perspective there are many things that he could change. They are all easily within his control and would make life much easier for her. Making life more bearable for her would most likely inspire her to change her approach to him and thus become more the way that he would like her to be.

For example, affectionate and soft, affirming words may be more appealing to her than blunt suggestions and blatant demands. Taking more care of his appearance and hygiene would make him more physically appealing to her.

The conversation continues with the husband really seeming to get it. He seemed to catch on to the fact that much of the problem could be solved if he changed his attitude and approach. His wife, after all, is reacting to him, not behaving in a vacuum.

These are the conversations that make psychologists feel brilliant. As if the deal is closed, the catch has been bagged. The psychologist suggests literature, other material that the husband could start working with that would raise his emotional intelligence and give him the tools and insights that could make him into the type of husband that could bring out of his partner the type of wife that he would prefer.

The now triumphant and jubilant psychologist zealously hands over the precious material, the code that will help this man unlock the treasure.

Upon receiving this magnanimous gift from his psychologist, the man says, as he turns to leave, “you know, I am really busy with so many demands in my life. I am going to give this stuff to my wife and have her start on it”.

The psychologist’s circumspection and humility return with a vengeance. His magical powers in one fell swoop are rendered a mere illusion. It is the client who is the true expert in the sleight of hand.

The appeal to vanity is a failsafe method of getting people where you want them. Simply show people what they want to see, in this case the hapless psychologist believing in his own brilliance, and you can conceal that you are in fact not going along with one word.

Clearly the sixth fool is the one who does not see it coming!

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