I just finished listening to Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell below is a video of him talking about the book
Part of the book is about how judges, police all of us judge others. Amazingly, we do it very badly. In fact, we judge others better if we don't see them. We would all think that seeing someone allows you to judge them better. But, as he describes in the book we default to truth.
We presume someone is telling us the truth. And as I read that, and today read Lou Gimbutis's post The Funniest thing a Tenant ever did to me it reminded me of a time several years ago when I defaulted to truth and learnt an important lesson.
I was approached by a man who needed to find a rental. He was staying in a house the family owned. His wife was about to have a baby and with the other two kids the house they were in with his parents was too small. But, he stated his credit score was not good. And he was right, the credit report he provided was not good. Could I help?
Well, I defaulted to truth, I believed what he told me. I did all I could to help this man and his family even though rentals pay me very little. I felt it did not matter I was doing something kind and I would get paid back at some time.
Well, after several attempts, I found a landlord willing to take the family. We write up the lease, he signs and they move in.
The wife has the baby, and I am invited to the restaurant the family owns for a celebration of the new life. The restaurant is packed. Whilst I am there he pulls me aside and tells me he has lied to me, but can I help his bother who now also needs somewhere to rent. I am confused.
He goes on to tell me that he used his brothers identitiy, social security number, credit report to qualify for the lease. His brother's credit was not good, and he explained his was even worse. My mouth is hanging open and I am in shock. I have put my license at risk through fraud because of this man and he has the audacity to still be asking for help.
As I leave, I immediately contact the leasing agent and explain the situation. She stays cool and suggests we simply put the brother on the lease as well. We do. They sign. She is satisfied. I tell my manager the story and say that going forward, like at settlement I am asking for drivers' licenses for all tenants.
I defaulted to truth believing the story he told me, I never doubted, who tells you their credit stinks and it does, and you think they are not who they say they are.
Be careful, consider the information carefully without getting swayed by the person and their behaviour. Have you defaulted to truth and made a wrong decision?