Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Knowing how the world works

As an attorney with now 37 years of court trial experience, one of the most remarkable things I have observed over the years is how few people know how the world works. Especially when confronted with overwhelming problems, commonly people react in totally inappropriate ways. Their reaction is based on a lack of awareness of how to deal with threatening situations. But, you might say, that is the reason we have attorneys and such. Did I say my observation was limited to non-attorneys? Many attorneys have no more of a clue how the world works than any average non-lawyer.

I fully realize that three years in law school and years of experience working in the court system may help, but I have come to the conclusion that it is more of an attitude than simply a matter of experience or education. I have identified that the root of the problem is, what I call, the victim syndrome. In almost every threatening situation, from divorce to bankruptcy, the individual caught up with the problem views himself or herself as a victim. The victim is always put upon and the results, win or lose, are always unsatisfactory.

One good example of the victim syndrome, recently we had an acquaintance who had a number of problems. I will not mention any names and the problems have been changed so that the person cannot be identified. This person was otherwise a capable professional with years of work experience and in relatively good health. This person's spouse had severe problems and had left the home. As a result, the person was unable to pay the mortgage and the house went into foreclosure. Although the person had a great deal of experience in real estate transactions, the person did nothing about the foreclosure and when the sale went through had done nothing to obtain an alternate place to live and had made no effort to move any of the house's contents. Rather than take charge of the circumstances and make arrangements to move, the person was found sitting and staring at the wall on the day possession of the house was supposed to change. This person had become (or may have been for some time) a victim.

In another similar situation, another person I knew, had the same problem with a mortgage payment. The couple had struggled for years to keep the house, but finally the person's spouse became seriously ill. As a result, the house payments got behind and the house went into foreclosure. While the house was in foreclosure, the spouse died. The person calmly faced the situation, found a place to live the person could afford by making a sharing arrangement with a friend, carefully reviewed the financial situation and moved to the new home before the foreclosure and was well situated when the bank took possession of the property. This person was not a victim even though the two situations were strikingly similar. In fact, this second person did have work experience but not in real estate.

The main difference between these two scenarios was the attitude of the person. The challenges and circumstances were similar but the reaction of the person to those circumstances was extremely different. One problem faced both people, they had lived in the homes for many, many years and had not taken control of their lives and paid off the mortgages. But the reaction to the lack of ability to pay the mortgage was entirely different.

Stay tuned for more about how the world works.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Found your blog today. I am researching this very topic. Your example is very insightful. Thank you.