There are four types of people when it comes to discourse. Those who
(1) understand quickly
(2) understand with (some) guidance
(3) understand superficially, at most
(4) are not even trying to understand.

People in type 4 are most likely acting in bad faith and you may do yourself a favour by ignoring them.

Understanding and bad faith

Types 1-3 are self-explanatory, so I will not dwell on these, apart from to note that superficial understanding may arise despite the person’s best efforts. So, be kind in your engagement with them because with time and care they may come around! 

With type 4, ‘bad faith’ can mean all manner of things. Perhaps, they are paid to take a certain position (e.g. corporate shills)? Perhaps, they don’t like who you are and what you stand for, irrespective of the specific points you are making? Or, perhaps they cling to a view with such closed-mindedness and fervour because their very identity depends on it? 

Whatever the specific variety of bad faith, the practical result is resistance — not even trying to understand. Recognising this has dramatic implications for you and how you engage. Is there any point in engaging with someone who has no intention of changing? Are you going to bang your head against a brick wall, or is there another more fertile path?  Is your time and energy better spent elsewhere? 

Which of the four types of people? 

So, types 1-3 may be said to arise from some combination of lack of knowledge, experience or competence. But, type 4 is a different bag, altogether. Here you face those who are not seekers of the ‘truth’, but those who are in the grip of their egos. Those who want to win and validate their position at all costs, whether they truly believe in their position or not. 

By asking with whom you are engaging, you empower yourself with real choice. The choice that comes from deeper understanding of the possible dynamics at play. 


life coaching londonHarsha is a 1:1 coach and independent thinker based in London. He empowers people to find more clarity, confidence and focus in their lives — to cut through the noise, in a world so full of it. Harsha’s new book, Machine Ego: Tragedy of the Modern Mind, is now available in paperback and Kindle through Amazon.

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