In all my years in business and the thousands of people I have interacted with, I have only met a handful people who I would consider truly evil people. However, they were most definitely evil people who did everything in their power to leave a wake of destruction in their paths. I have not, to this day, understood why they would do the things they did other than the simple fact that they truly were evil.
In trying to come to grips with these people and determine how to handle them, I turned to Dr. Henry Cloud . . . my favorite psychologist. Although I have never met Dr. Cloud, I consider him a mentor and I have used his books and videos extensively over the years.
Dr. Cloud postulates that there are three basic types of people in this world; wise people, foolish people, and evil people. As leaders, we must be capable of identifying each type because we need to handle them very differently. The three types of people and how to deal with them are described below;
- Wise – In this context the term “Wise” is not necessarily referring to the smartest people but rather people who are open, receiving, inquisitive, care about their performance and the performance of others, love to get feedback that helps them improve and are able to adjust as the world around them changes. If you have an issue with a Wise person, you simply need to explain the issue to them and they will typically be motivated to change their behavior and improve themselves.
- Fools – These people are the opposite of a Wise person. They are closed to feedback, they fight the truth, push the problem to someone else, get angry often and shoot the messenger. Through their actions and behaviors, Fools may hurt others around them but this is not intentional and they are typically remorseful afterwards. If you have an issue with a Fool, you have to remember that they don’t like to listen. You must clearly and emphatically state what is going to be the consequence to their lack of action in the problem area and then be prepared to back it up. I can report that this approach has served me well over the years and most people do listen (eventually) and make adjustments to get better (it just takes them longer and the process is painful compared to Wise person).
- Evil – These people seem to enjoy hurting others around them. Their main strategy is to destroy people to make themselves look good. When dealing with an evil person you must remember that they don’t care about you or anyone or anything around them and because of this, any exposure to them puts you at risk (I have seen things like false claims of ethics breaches, extremely exaggerated situations, cover ups of serious situations, etc.). According to Dr. Cloud, the only way to deal with Evil people is by using lawyers, guns and money.
- lawyers are needed to draw up the paperwork to have the evil person removed from your business
- security (or guns…I think in Canada we just use big sticks!) are needed to retrieve company property from them and to escort them from the business
- money may be needed as some form of severance to avoid litigation
So, if you run across an Evil person, the best thing you can do is take Dr. Cloud’s advice and use lawyers, guns and money to protect yourself and your business from the destruction that inevitably follows these people. Do not try to mentor them or coach them to different behavior. It does not work and will put you and your business at risk.