Can You Trust Your Friends and Colleagues
If you are familiar with the behavior of Macaque monkeys,
you will know that monkeys live in groups. Each group is like
an extended family, headed by an alpha male. He takes the lead
in defending the group against threats, ensures the regular
supply of food and sets the standards of group behavior. The
group will have a hierarchy, similar to the Hindu caste system,
which is determined by birth. Those who are born to the mothers
in the higher ranks enjoy higher rank which is relative to the
mother's position in the hierarchy, while those who are born
to the ones in the lower ranks have to remain contended with
their lower ranks.
The social rank of each monkey in the group plays an important
role in sexual relationships and the distribution of food. The
higher ranking monkey enjoy the best cuts and portions, while
the lower rank monkeys have to wait until the higher rank ones
get their share. Only when the alpha male dies or when he grows
old and weak, some monkeys may try to change their rank or force
their way up.
Millions of years of genetic transformation and evolution
have shaped the behavior of the monkeys. Their behavior is uniform
across all groups in each species. From such observations one
cannot fail to notice the amazing similarities between their
behavior and human behavior and their group dynamics and ours.
If one has any doubt about the factuality of the evolution of
life upon earth, a study of macaque monkeys shall surely dispel
The dynamics of interpersonal relationships
Genetics and evolution of our brains play a vital role in
your personal relationships. Nature wants us to be competitive
and not trust anyone. All the emotions and resources are meant
to forge relationships, which ensure our survival and help us
stay away from anything that seem to threaten our Wellbeing.
A strong alpha male among humans may be successful in life,
but he will be seldom appreciated by others in the group. They
may fear him but do not really love him unless his success in
some way contributes to their own. If you are strong and successful,
know that most of your relationships will be based on fear and
respect rather than genuine love and affection. This is the
price of success you have to pay, knowing how Nature influences
human behavior and relationships.
It is also why you cannot always trust certain relations
in your life for advice or rely upon it, especially if you are
successful or well-placed. Again, it is Nature which is at play
here. Your friends and colleagues prefer you to be at the same
level as they are or below it, but not above them. They know
that if you become successful and move into higher levels, your
equation with them will change forever and you may not be the
same person again.
The observation may not be true with every relationship,
but most of them fall into the pattern. It is even more pronounced
in organizations and businesses. Your professional friends and
colleagues, except those who depend upon you, may congratulate
you when you get a promotion or when you successfully complete
a project or achieve profits, but inwardly most of them will
be seething with anger or discontent for their own failure to
achieve the same level of success. Unfortunately, in a closed
system every gain that you make means a loss to someone.
Hence, apart from your parents, grandparents, children, spouse
and a few close friends, relations and colleagues, you may not
find many trustworthy people in your relationships whose advice
you can really trust. Most of your friends and colleagues cannot
think clearly about you or give you a genuine advice, because
their judgment and thinking become clouded by many factors.
In this regard, the following are worth considering.
- Your relationship and attitude towards them.
If you were not good to them in the past, or if you were
cold and aloof they may secretly despise you and become
prejudiced about you.
- Fear. They may be afraid to disclose
their genuine thoughts and feelings about you and risk damaging
the relationship, or they may be afraid that if they give
you right advice, you will be more successful and leave
- Envy. In human relationships, envy
plays an important role. People do not mind if strangers
become billionaires or achieve success, but suffer from
jealousy when those who are close to them or known to them
achieve the same level of success. It is the monkey brain
The best advice comes from yourself
Therefore, when it comes to your career or your life, it
is better to listen to your friends, peers and colleagues with
caution and discretion, and ignore them if their envy is palpable.
Even if you have professional mentors in the same organization
where you work, you cannot blindly trust them. Most of them
wish you well as long as you do not seem to go beyond them or
alter the dynamics of the relationship.
The same applies to any criticism which you may directly
or indirectly hear from them. Their criticism against you will
mostly be personal rather than factual and driven by personal
considerations. You do not have to literally take all their
negativity and feel undermined or belittled. Pay attention to
what they say with an open mind, knowing that they may be acting
out their primate behavior which is hidden in all, and it is
natural for people to promote group cohesiveness and group think
by pushing everyone into conformity and mediocrity.
Know how the brain works
The human brain has two parts, the lower brain or the reptilian
brain, and the higher brain. The higher brain is responsible
for all executive functions such as thinking, reasoning, speech,
strategy, planning, forecasting, intelligence, etc., whereas
the lower brain is the seat of all primitive instincts and emotions.
In any situation, it is the lower brain which processes the
information and looks for any threats or risks.
Hence, in all critical situations we experience emotions
before we begin to think rationally. It is also why people cannot
escape from the emotions of fear, envy, anger and lust, however
educated and self-disciplined they may be. One should not feel
ashamed or guilty for having such emotions. In a primitive world,
a stronger opponent means an existential threat. Hence, one
cannot help feeling negativity towards all forms of competition
and against anyone who seems to undermine oneâ€™s own success.
What sets people apart is how they rationally think and act
after they experience strong emotions, which cannot be suppressed.
After all, your emotions are vital to your survival. They act
like radars in your visual or perceptual filed. If you feel
envious towards your close friends, colleagues and relations,
it is perfectly normal and human. However, what is important
is how you deal with such emotions afterwards, when your higher
mind takes over the control. Life is largely about controlling
the passions and weaknesses of your primitive brain without
damaging its ability to protect you from external threats.
For Further Reading