Sunday, November 18, 2007

Test Driver?

Tim Ferriss has started a firestorm with a post on "test-driving" friends by intentionally creating scenarios in which certain qualities would be revealed.

Some questions:

Would you want to be friends with someone who would intentionally conduct experiments with you?

Is it likely that the manipulator in the test-drive stage will cease to manipulate once the friend has passed the test?

An excerpt:

3. Take them to a restaurant with good food but bad service. (Testing: how diplomatically they contend with and resolve incompetence, which is the default mode of the universe)

4. Invite them to an event or function and then profusely apologize when you realize you’ve forgotten your wallet. Offer to repay them later or treat them the next time out. (Testing: how they relate to money issues. Wonderful people sometimes turn into irrational monsters as soon as even a few dollars are involved. It drives me crazy to keep a running ledger of who owes whom for a few dollars here and there, especially in social settings. Repaying the favor is mandatory, but dwelling on differences of pennies is tiring.)


Anonymous said...

Maybe he's not looking for friends. Maybe he's looking for qualified people to add to his professional network. There's a difference, isn't there?

Michael Wade said...

Even if he's looking for people to add to a professional network, I think this has an element of calculation that goes beyond simply going to lunch with someone and seeing if the candidate is rude to the staff. A test I would use would be: If the would-be network candidates later learned of the way they had been handled, would they feel that they'd been chosen via a pretty sophisticated and wise process or would they feel duped and/or manipulated? My guess is many of them would feel the latter.

Anonymous said...

I guess I don't understand the purpose of it all. Is the idea that you'll weed out the unfit early? Or is it to increase your percentage of high quality relationships? Does he keep records and sit down of a quiet Sunday afternoon to compare his friendship batting average for last month with the six month moving average?

I know that sort of process isn't for me. It seems to put more emphasis on analysis than on actually testing the relationship by being a friend. My less-logical, purity-test free way seems to work fine, so I'll stick with it.