The futility of emotional tests

Yo, Past-Me.

Remember that last big exam you took? You and your friends spent hours reviewing each other and trying to predict what the questions were going to be. You came up with all the difficult questions – the ones that had all of you sweating bullets by the time the teacher came and distributed the exam papers.

Suddenly, it’s an hour later and you and your friends grinned sheepishly at each other. Remember that?

It wasn’t as difficult as you worried it would be. The questions you tossed each other were way more difficult than the ones your teacher thought were enough to gauge your mastery of the subject. You laughed nervously and promised each other that you would never put yourselves through that torture again.

And then you did.

Testing people is the same way, son.

When you test people, you make them jump through hoops that are intrinsically more stressful than most situations they would have to face in real life. And what’s worse, the stress is a deliberate fabrication. You design and implement the test – whether knowingly or unwittingly – to provoke a crisis response.

And just like with those predicted questions, of course the person is gonna sweat bullets and, yes, most likely fail.

Now with predicted pre-exam questions, failing to get the right answer isn’t all that important. But in real life, we risk causing real damage in our relations with the people we subject to these emotional tests.

So do yourself a favor. The next time you want to put someone to the test, don’t. It’s a bad bet you’ll probably lose.

Lookin’ out for you, son.

Future You

Leave a Reply