Thursday, January 07, 2016

HR and "People Skills"

An excerpt from the upcoming book/essay "Curse of the High IQ!"

The HR ditz also Introduces a new aspect of careers and the employment world.  One that is the bane of existence for abnormally intelligent people.

“Soft” or “people skills.”

In 2012 I had a job interview with a bank in Rapid City, South Dakota.  I had not been this excited in nearly a decade in that Rapid City and the Black Hills area is my favorite place in the world, and I was now looking at the prospects of finally living there with gainful employment. 

However, on my drive there I ran into the worst snow storm I have ever experienced in my life.  Scores of cars were stuck in the drifts, at least five semi-trailers were in the ditch, and invariably it got so bad they closed the interstate down.  It was only through some strategic driving, “piggy backing” off of semi-trucks to plow through the drifts, and raw determination did I manage to make it to Rapid City.  Unfortunately, I had not arrived until 4AM and only managed to get three hours sleep before my interview.  I walked into my interview a bit fatigued. 

The interview went very well and I even got the job in the end.  But after receiving the job offer my future boss called me and said,

“We need to talk about something.”

Curious as to what it was I returned his called and found out he had a concern.

“Well, I noticed when you walked into the interview you weren’t smiling.  You see, were here at the Rapid City Bank want to give our customers an experience.  And we need everybody to be smiling and happy to provide that warm welcoming environment.  But when you walked into our office you were frowning and that kind of demeanor can…”

I cut him off and told him I was no longer interested in the job.

Whether it’s a bank in South Dakota or a parking lot in Miami employers value “soft skills” or “people skills” more than real ones.  And the reason is very simple.  Normal and dumb people value feeling good over actual, genuine progress. 

A perfect example is Oprah Winfrey.

Criticize her as you may, Oprah is a genius because she realized people would rather feel good than actually achieve good in their lives.  And thus, she went out and told millions of women for over 20 years what they WANTED to hear, not what they NEEDED to hear. 

You’re not fat, you’re beautiful inside!
Your husband should love you for who you are!
Follow your heart and the money will follow!
You deserve it girl!

For this she was rewarded billions of dollars in net worth. 

The problem is high IQ people (unless they jettison their morals) simply can’t do this which puts them at a disadvantage in the employment world. 

First they cannot keep up the charade or fa├žade of emotional interest.  It just isn’t in their nature and it’s simply too taxing mentally.  High IQ people can plainly see a problem for what it is, what logical decisions need to be made in order to solve it, and can remove any emotional or psychological preferences they might have about it.  They offer direct, blunt, emotionless solutions that are guaranteed to solve the problem, but unfortunately step on people’s precious little toes.

This then leads to a second problem, because not only does the majority of clients prefer good feelings over production, but so too does the majority of co-workers and bosses.  Your entire employment environment is driven by everybody’s insistence you place feelings and emotions over reality and truth.  This is simply maddening for smart people because what needs to be done in the real world counters what your boss, co-workers, and clients are demanding of you.

A colleague of mine worked at a video game store and was lectured for up-selling a client a $60 boxed-DVD set and NOT getting her to sign up for their “membership card.”

During my days in banking I was routinely lectured for being “too harsh” when analyzing and rejecting loans...until I was proven right when they all went into default and bankruptcy.

And no doubt you personally have experienced some instance of contradictory insanity in your own job where reality is telling you “X” and your boss is threatening to fire you if you don’t do “Y.”

It doesn’t matter.  Dumb and average people account for the majority of the customer base.  Dumb and average people also account for the majority of workers at your firm.  Thus, it is feelings and emotions that rule the day, guaranteeing you will suffer this cognitive-dissonance insanity during your entire career.

"Curse of the High IQ" is slated to come out in two weeks!  Tell friends!  Particularly the smart ones!


liberranter said...

Dumb and average people account for the majority of the customer base. Dumb and average people also account for the majority of workers at your firm.

Odds are also overwhelming that they account for ALL of the executive and "management" tier.

Faithless Cynic said...

Spot on Cappy. In 1998 I was working Fraud Prevention for First USA Bank. I found a fraud scam with potential losses of $850,000.00 that no one had ever seen before. I shut the fraud accounts down. My " see word " manager complained because I spent too much time on that one fraud. I quit in disgust in 2000 and have never worked in banking again. First USA Bank crashed and burned, and the accounts were absorbed by other banks.

Fast forward to 2016, my rentals are doing well and hardly anyone remembers First USA Bank. For a brief moment FUSA was the largest credit card bank in existence, now, it has been relegated to the dustbin of history.


Richard Cranium said...

Reminds me of a story of Mark Cuban's early days when he worked for a computer store. He had made a huge sale and went to pick up the check from the customer. He was late opening the store and was fired. The fact that he made a huge sale was lost on the owner because he didn't "follow orders" and open the door at 9 am sharp because someone might have wandered in and bought a $5 item. That led him to make moves that eventually led to his amazing success.

grey enlightenment said...

Peter and Dilbert principle at work in corporate America .

KW said...

I agree with this post. I went to apply for a second job a couple months ago and was turned down because I "wasn't a good fit." I called back and asked if I wasn't hired due to lack of experience or skill set. The HR gal said "no"...we're just looking for a certain kind of person. I said thanks anyway and hung up.

Fuck that place. Favoring personality (or gender) over competence and intellegence. Pathetic.

David H. said...

I'd like to add: people who want free shit from their job.

I work for a small tech startup in Denver. It's a fantastic opportunity because we just about double in size every 18 months. The company is consistently in the black, there are no investors to pay dividends to, and we have no debt.

Toward the end of the year we had a feedback session. I can't tell you how many people said, "We should do more social outings to, uh, strengthen our teamwork." I.e. "Let's all go get drunk on the company's dime." Or things like: free breakfast, "Taco Tuesdays", and a bunch of other free shit they want the company to pay for.

I suggested an employee buy-in program, so, you know, I can actually afford to retire at some point. Most of them looked at me like deer caught in the headlights. "Oh wow, that's a great idea," they said.

Well yeah, because I'm not the kind of millennial who wants to turn my job into a playhouse. I want to make money, put some upgrades into my house, save enough to put 20% down on a rental property, and have kids someday. I'd rather get a raise and pay for my own damn breakfast than expect someone else to do it for me.

Faithless Cynic said...

Cappy, your excellent article got me thinking about laws. Not the usual BS laws about speed limits and taxes, but real laws that you ignore at your peril. Herewith Tom's Law of Politics and Belief Systems - Any political or religious system that assures you that THE OTHER PERSON is at fault for your fuckups is unstoppable. Examples include religions and most any " ism " political system.

Doubting Richard said...


This might explain why I love the aviation business. I have a high IQ (no idea what, but I have a science degree from Cambridge, and they don't come in a cereal packet) but a cheerful disposition and I like people. Aviation is brutal towards denial of reality. Smoking holes in the ground sometimes followed by bankruptcy. So while there will always be managers who have some of the problems you identify, most of the industry favours ability and realism over fantasy.

Folie a Two said...

It's scary that HR are gate-keepers to jobs. I hear all the time how job postings are closed up after a week because there are many applications that come in...and HR (as gate-keeper) is too lazy to screen more applications.

Of course, the result is that you don't have the best candidates coming in since you prematurely closed off the application.

In the end, sometimes the jobs goes to friends and such since the HR process is flawed up.