The Evil, the Foolish, the Wise – some helpful teaching by Henry Cloud
The book of Proverbs – God’s book of psychology – abounds with references to three kinds of people: the evil, the foolish and the wise. Henry Cloud has some good teaching on this topic which he presented to organizational managers. I’ve slightly edited his material in the version below, to make it more applicable to marriage. I trust I have been faithful to Cloud’s principles, but as always, I’m open to correction or tweaking.
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Some people are WISE, some are FOOLS, and some are are EVIL. … The reality is also, all of us have all of these parts (and some make a career out of them).
When light comes to them, that person adjusts themselves to match the light. When truth comes, they change something. “Correct a wise person, and he will be wiser still.”
Another quality is that they smile, and thank you when you give them feedback! When asked, “Would you like some feedback?” the WISE will say, “Yeah, give me a gift.”
So, what do you do with the WISE? Talk to them, feedback, resource them, etc! …
A fool is basically someone who is gifted, talented, producing… but…
When the light shows up, they adjust the light. They try to dim the light, and adjust the truth. The FOOL will try to change the truth (minimize it, excuse it) or shoot the messenger. They deny it’s reality, they minimize, externalize it, shoot the messenger, and you don’t get a smiley face, and a lot of the times they get angry, and have the meeting after the meeting, triangulation, and now you’re the problem, and they split the company/organization. And every time you talk to a person like this, they do not own it.
Here’s what the Bible says, and here’s what all research supports: Do not confront or correct a fool, lest you incur insults upon yourself. Stop talking!
Let’s talk, rather, about how talking doesn’t help. You can say to the foolish person: “I want to know how I can talk to you so that what I talk to you makes a difference.” It may be that they are foolish for shamed reasons. If they reveal this, you can ask yourself: “What will I do if I talk to them about the need for them to change, and then it doesn’t happen (they don’t change). I want to plan for the conversation after this conversation if there are non-effective consequences. Fools do not change when truth comes to them, they change when they must camp out in truth, and the pain of change is less than the pain of not.
There is great hope for fools. Fools you can change. But this takes guts. Sometimes these are the hardest calls to make.
Limit your exposure, make it clear about the consequences, give them a choice, then follow through. “You know what we need … is someone who will listen to truth and reality. I hope you’re that person.”
They have destruction in their hearts and they want to inflict pain. It’s hard for optimistic people to believe this, but there really are bad people in this world. You can’t talk to them, you can’t fix them.
Here, you have lawyers, guns, and $. Sometimes you have to call the police.
[ Note from Barb: living in Australia where we don’t have a gun culture, I don’t endorse the idea of guns unless they are used by law enforcement officers. But I know the US has a different culture.]