People are on your side

Well, real life people are, anyway. I was helping a friend do job interviews for her NGO last week, and we wanted every candidate to me amazing. We wanted them to come in and blow us away with their competence and brilliance. We were the most supportive audience you can possibly imagine. And it has been that way almost every time I’ve been part of an interview time. No one wants to see a candidate fail. We are emotionally wired to want people to succeed.

Except on the internet. More and more, the internet – and social media in particular – is a game of gotcha. On the internet people want to argue and they want to win.

Face to face life, though is not the internet. If you spend a lot of time online it’s easy to forget that. I can very nearly guarantee that everyone you know in person, from your best friend to the driver of your last uber would be pleased to see you succeed. We all want good things for the people around us. Think about it. When is the last time you were happy to see someone you know fail?

Remembering that people are on your side can be a game changer.

I am giving a TedX talk next week and every time I am tempted to get nervous I think of my own experience as a TED audience member. We all want the talks to be amazing. We want the speaker to wow. I’ve seen people drop their notecards on stage, spill their water, lose track of the clicker, and freeze into mute unguligrade terror. And every time, the audience just sat there exuding love and support until the talk got back on track.

When I meet someone new at a party, they’re not waiting to pounce on me for factual inaccuracy or poor pronunciation. They want to go home having met a nice new person. As long as I don’t kick a housepet or insult anyone’s children, they’re going to leave liking me.

I think we can all benefit from holding that in our heads as we lurch awkwardly through the world. The people we see are on our side. And the internet, not so much.