othersThis is the time of the year when we are grateful for what we have, when we give back to others, and when we also usually start looking back at the past year. In other words, it is the time of the year when we are more conscious about things that don’t concern our immediate needs. The “I want now” takes the backseat and other things and particularly other people take the center stage in our thoughts.

Other people.

Wow, that is everyone but me. Everyone else!

As I write this, I picture myself standing on a pedestal and a huge crowd of people (everyone else!) looking up to me.

BRIAN: Look. You’ve got it all wrong. You don’t need to follow me. You don’t need to follow anybody! You’ve got to think for yourselves. You’re all individuals!

FOLLOWERS: Yes, we’re all individuals!

BRIAN: You’re all different!

FOLLOWERS: Yes, we are all different!

DENNIS: I’m not.

ARTHUR: Shhhh.

FOLLOWERS: Shh. Shhhh. Shhh.


We are all different. Well, yes and no. Of course we are all individuals. This is why I cracked up the first time I watched the scene and probably more than ten times after that. How could you argue with that?

Everyone else is different. Well, no. Not at least as much as we think. Do you for example think you are a better driver than others?

Yes? Then you already have that in common with the majority. Bummer.

It is a fact, we have more in common with everyone else than we think. I think now is a good time to reflect about moments when we may be wrong about how we perceive them.

How often do we think “they should take care of this, it’s their job”? If you think about it, it is often not their job.
Of course we often encounter someone who obviously doesn’t care much about the job he’s doing. But I am convinced that in many cases, especially when we are stressed out, we expect others to be Superman.

It is not anyone’s job to be perfect. They are not. You are not. Period.

Don’t give someone an impossible job and expect perfection. I have a lengthy personal example at the end of this post, but here are some simple ones:

  • When you boss gets a ton of emails per day, don’t expect him to read between the lines of yours.
  • When you are going nuts and everyone in entire airport is running havoc, because all planes are delayed, don’t expect the airport staff to be in control of everything. They are trying their best, I am sure.
  • Don’t expect the rest of the world to share your views and understand were you are coming from.
  • If you are not always giving 100%, don’t expect others to do so.

A personal example.
Have you ever searched for a job, submitted your application material online and then after the first email acknowledging receipt never heard back again?
They didn’t even have the courtesy to let you know that you didn’t get the job. That is maddening, right? Particularly because it seems to be the norm these days.

When you ask recruiters you get to hear how many applications they have to deal with so that they cannot write personalized emails. Well, it is their job to deal with applications. They shouldn’t complain. Right?

At least they could send an automated email to everyone when the position is filled.

Apparently, it is not that easy as I found out this year.

I am not a recruiter, but was in charge of recruiting a new team member early this year. Even with the support of our HR department just agreeing on a job posting took a very long time. You don’t want to sieve good candidates out to early but you also don’t want to get too many absolutely non-matching candidates. We received about 50 applications, which was honestly more than I expected given where we posted and how specific the posting was.

Think about it, 50 doesn’t sound like a lot. The material contained, cover letter, resume, and a completed questionnaire concerning specifics of the applicants’ work experiences. At least 4 pages per applicant. So only a total of 200 pages to read. I wanted to be fair and read everything and did not stop with the resumes. So I read a lot of details. I also made a table summarizing all the information I found, added pros and cons, and questions I had for each candidate. I spent a lot of time on this, too much time. We needed someone, quick. Someone also needed to come up with good interview questions, the interviews needed to be set up, schedules matched, etc.

Obviously you cannot interview everyone who applies, so you have to find reasons for why you don’t interview candidates. So what happens? You start to look for exclusion criteria, key experiences that don’t show up in the material. Key words. That is something I wanted to avoid. And now I did it myself.

To make this short, at the end there is only one spot to fill. And while I wanted to find the best suited person for the team, I had to actually find the best person that was still available and willing to do the job. Meaning this is not only a one sided process.

You may have to interview more people than expected and some may start and then reconsider. This is apparently the gist of why no emails are sent out. That argument still doesn’t fly for me, but at least I see how it is not that easy.

For a recruiter at a big company it is mostly about getting the job done and select suited candidates for interviews. If you think about it, for them it is at the end only about keeping their own jobs. Meaning they need to deliver, reliably and quick. Of course that strongly depends on the culture of the company they are working at, but chances are good, everyone plays it safe and keeps things moving quickly, which means there is not a lot of time for excessive pondering and consideration.

My point is by submitting our materials to big online portals we are agreeing to be part of a lottery. Over and over again.

How much sense does it make to complain about not winning? I am not saying we have to accept the rules, but when we join the game, we must not wonder that are treated by the rules.

At the end everything comes down to being conscious about what we can expect and what not.
It is not them, it is us.



  • Literature on Self Perception: Svenson, Ola (1981) Are we all less risky and more skillfull than our fellow drivers? Acta Psychologica 47, 143-148. (pdf)