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Harm: the benefits of recognizing it

The assessment of external harm (assessment of consequences, direct and non-direct threat) – is very important for normal life activity of any person.
Using the methodological framework of the Center for the Study of Personality (CSP), it was possible to practically identify the most common harms of our actions and trace some of the consequences.
The research lasted for 2 months, and this article is based on the results.

This CSP study aimed to analyze harm as a factor destroying Personality on the one hand, and damaging relationships on the other, as well as to find some optimal way out.

In this study, both situations and behavior of people, the following were taken into account: types of temperament, behavior styles, age characteristics, gender and social affiliation. Therefore, the data obtained can be considered average or, as they say, statistical average.

In this paper, only the final indicators of the study are published, as closed methods of analyzing situations and people were used. The quantitative ratios given in this study are both interdependent and independent of each other (it is necessary to take into account the evaluation criteria).

In addition, despite the fact that in many of the given examples we do harm to others, we do it to ourselves first of all, and from the beginning to the end of such situations (the scale is arranged from the most “popular” or frequently occurring harm in a descending system):

The harm of trying to “fix others”

Don’t say you’ve never tried to correct others – I won’t believe it. What I will believe is that you have learned to restrain yourself. For advice, criticism, searching for faults, censures, impositions, evaluations, conditions, corrections, offenses and other such things are the result of the fact that you want to influence the consciousness, awareness and subconsciousness of others for some purpose (purpose is another topic).

Such influence on people, most often, occurs in three main ways: the first is to say i.e. verbal “influence”, the second is to keep silent, the third is to tell someone else.
In the first case, it is a direct “correction” and, at the same time, not only a pressure on the person, but also a kind of reproach.

The harm caused by this act:
– resentment (depth is not a constant indicator, often having subgroups) to your words – will make up 23% of 100 situations,
– inadequate reaction to your words – from 0.15% to 2% of misunderstanding of the intention (at the same time, inclined to constant growth!!!),
– aggression of a person directed directly at you – in 50% of cases (a stable indicator!),
– suspicion of something – 34%,
– grief – 38%,
– disappointment 13%.

At the same time, a mix of the above-mentioned human reactions is observed in 60 cases out of 100.
Joy on the part of your “opponent” is unlikely in direct influence, and it is only 6.3% of 100 situations (characterized by a feeling of gaining new experience – i.e. gratitude for your corrections).
In most cases – remains a residue that can slowly but surely destroy your relationship with a person. Ask yourself the question: Why?

The second way is to keep silent. Practice has shown that the harm from it is greater than from the first point, but mainly for you. You’re internally resentful and it’s felt in the form of:
– uncertainty, which will be noticed in 15% out of 100 cases,
– rethinking of the situation by you with wrong conclusions in consequence (not objective), where you will invent answers to your own questions in 45% (and, what is characteristic – subconsciously!),
– change of your attitude to a person – 20% and transition to a subconscious conflict in another similar / similar situation in 57,2%.
I.e. “on the face of it” internal conflict and its logical conclusion in the form of continuation. Direct harm to you – in 80% of 100 situations.

The third way is to tell someone about it. The situation is twofold. If you tell a common acquaintance (which happens in 32%), not only the person himself, but also many other people may find out about it, which will result in variants of the first point, plus consequences directly from this act:
– distrust – 70%,
– anger – (mostly in women) – 56%,
– rupture of relationships – 15.9%,
– “retaliation” – on the part of women 41%,
and on the part of men almost 100% (i.e. imminent).
….It’s worth thinking before you do…

If you tell a stranger – the options of the situation are difficult to predict, because much depends on the interpersonal game of each and both together. But nevertheless, when telling a stranger, the situation is characterized as “50/50”. I.e. 50% – see reactions in points 1 and 2 and 50% – that the person about whom you told – learns about it from someone else (reactions are corresponding)….

There are many variants of “correcting others”, but all of them are most often realized by the above three. But characteristically, in any situation, harm to us is obvious and is an undeniable fact.

Exit – many people believe that the “golden mean” is the three steps of “getting out of a situation” without harming yourself or others:
– probing the “hows and whys”,
– mentioning it lightly,
– cautiously expressing your observations after the situation has passed.
If there is distance and “not getting personal” – the harm is significantly minimized or reduced to 0.

The harm of deception

People lie extremely often.
According to the statistics of the Center for the Study of Personality – 68% lie to an average degree, 14.9% pathologically, but do not lie – using control over themselves – 8.6%, 7.5% – lie selectively alternating truth and lies. 1% do not lie at all. In other words, out of 100% of situations, honesty should be expected in about 13.35%.

And how many people deceive themselves, even if they are crystal clear in front of others!? Only 1% don’t lie. This is catastrophically low for mutual trust between people.
The harm from deception is destructive, hurtful and has a point effect. But the main thing is how to apply the deception and what is its destructive effect on the amount of loss spread on average! One major deception – may not be as destructive to a relationship between people as several small ones.
Deceiving oneself (taking into account the above statistics) – 89% of people suffer from deception, and this figure is rapidly growing.
The way out is to see a psychologist for advice or help in coordinating, correcting one’s “perception of deception”.

Harm from the initiative

Many people think that initiative is the engine of progress (although the engine has always been laziness), while their opponents consider initiative to be punishable. Who is right? Both sides, and each in its own way. For situations and participants are different.

Sergey, 38, broker

It’s the right apartment for him, I’m sure – and he should buy it. That’s why he’s my client. I will call him every day and argue with him until he makes the right choice. And if he misses his chance – I will not be lazy and come to his house with brochures!

P.S. Sergey was fired from his job, due to numerous complaints from “his” clients.

In 77% – the initiative is harmful, with 44 cases – destroying the relationship in the first stages of communication and in 25 cases – in longer communication.

The harms of “using people”

Once, I heard a phrase from one somewhat self-confident (see the next point) businessman, it sounded like this: “He who does not know how to use others is unlikely to be able to effectively use i.e. realize himself”. Originally, it sounded like this: “He who does not know how to use himself correctly will not be able to effectively utilize the capabilities of others”.
Who likes to be used? No, there are, of course, fans of masochism and other borderline variants of exceptions, but in its pure form – it always turns against the one who uses.
For example, the direct harm from use is that people do not like to be used, i.e. the block of “forced communication” (it includes all variants of communication connected with forcing to something) and oppose it on a subconscious level.
People can resist using themselves in completely unexpected ways:
– in 50% of situations by force (!) – the use of this option is increasing,
– in 23% – “active revenge” is used in response
– in 17% – passive revenge,
– in 10% – people are closed and are not sure of their position.
More often – people choose a single strategy of action in this matter.

Using people, as a rule, is popular in the following ways: the first – a person does not know that he is being used, the second – a person knows / guesses and, as a consequence of something, elementary tolerates (does not want for some reason to reveal the facts, turns a blind eye to them), the third – a person also uses you, just when you use him he is closer to you and has the opportunity to realize himself more effectively and escape suspicion. The last method is original and effective at the same time, and the harm from it is 50/50 on both sides.
Good relations with a person, established after the fact of “using” him for your purposes – is a chance for that person to take revenge on you for this. The destruction of the relationship – which takes place, launched in the “meltdown” mode.
The harm from using others is greater than the expected benefit from using them.
The way out – as an option, the rejection of manipulative technologies designed to force something on other people.

The harm of “overconfidence”

Self-confidence is a good thing in many ways. It is something to strive for and work on yourself to get closer to that goal. Self-confidence is considered a slightly borderline concept that refers more to a negative stereotype of a person’s perception.

For example, “he is self-confident and grasping”, “self-confident and selfish” – such characteristics are not bad, but have a tinge of arrogance.
If the word “excessive” is present in the phrase – this suggests that it is better to reduce something to gain balance.
The harms of overconfidence are multifaceted. But the primary harm is the harm from the narrowness of perception of information, against the background of one’s opinion. In other words, everything is rejected except personal positions as unchangeable. It cannot be called categorical, because categorical is included in the structure of the collective notion – “excessive self-confidence”, as are included in it the notions of “stubbornness”, “inflated self-esteem”, “conflictiveness”, “elements of self-assertion at the expense of someone”, “elements of egocentrism”, etc.

Vasily V. 36 years old, marketing specialist

“I will never work according to the methods suggested by my boss. Who is he? Who’s me. I am the engine of the process, I am the first face of the sale.

He sits around writing stupid memos to the top because he’s the boss. And I work like a horse. I’ll work with my own methods. I’m a person. I’m not gonna lose my authoring skills. I know I’m superpowered!”

People don’t like positioning someone as knowingly dominant. “It is not only unreasonable (let him show facts and evidence!), but also humiliating for others (how is he better? Specifically!?)” – explains Victoria, sales manager of one of the specialized firms. Showing off is harmful in itself.
– 20% of people – avoid communication with such people in their lives, in principle,
– 48% communicate only on a formal basis,
– and only 10% of them – continue to communicate after the loss of this need to communicate (which is associated with the attachment of a single person to a supposedly strong person, at the level of need),
– 15% – treat literally, and take offense and take revenge,
– 17% – temporarily and specifically use the potential of such a person and do not continue communication if they lose their personal interest from the use.
The “overconfident man” himself – sees neither the opinions of others nor their understanding (which reinforces his self-confidence as a defense against society in most cases). He loses objectivity, then control, then relationships. The harm is obvious.
The way out is to revise the positioning of oneself (work with a psychologist is desirable).


To summarize the results of this study, the popular and common harms that people do to themselves and others, respectively – are of the following order:
– The harm from trying to “fix others”, according to the total calculations amounted to 13%,
– Harm from deception, 11.5%,
– Harm from initiative – 7.5,
– Harm from “using people” – 5.7.
– Harm from “overconfidence” – 0.3.

In addition, in our situation, out of the above 5 points – the total harm to others and ourselves that we do, according to CSP estimates (2008 – early 2009), is approximately 38% (taking into account the running of the “take – give” cycles – this can be regarded as: 38% of 100% of other people’s influence on us – is capable of causing us possible harm). And our task and duty is to resist its influence, using psychological defenses and so on.
But, it should be taken into account that when we do harm to others (in addition to mutual harm) – there is also a return from it, i.e. return to us – which, in total, is additionally plus / minus a certain number. 10% in this study is the so called “buffer zone”


Buffer zone (BZ) is a stabilizing-neutral zone of mental processes (e.g., reassessment, renewal, waiting, PZ, etc.), responsible for the balance of mental processes.
In norm, it makes approximately 25% (with potential sign “+”, i.e. with “readiness” of attaching more to the positive to resist destructive actions and thoughts), at negative emotions approximately in 20%, and positive – 55%.
BZ is stable when normal.
With increased negativity and its pressure – it can decrease, jeopardizing the mental health of the person.

in view of which, we need to significantly reconsider the infliction of harm (conscious and unconscious) to others and to ourselves – for in the context of this study – the situation with the study of harm is significantly far from the norm (20% of harm does not threaten mental health), and this is only 5 indicators of the most popular…

Conclusions, from the above:

– understanding the nature of harm, as well as its consequences – an important step towards preserving psychological health,
– individual minimization of harm to others will reduce harm to oneself and the overall % of global harm to people,
– cleaning the buffer zone (self-acceptance, personal positioning, trainings and psychological consultations, work with the scale of values, determination of priorities, psychologist’s help) – it is important for maintaining psychological health.

Anisimova Alisa
Psychologist – personologist, physiognomist

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