kaylar By kaylar, 2nd Jan 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Culture>Social Trends

Taking advice from whom it comes, and knowing from whom it comes

A Victorian Interlude

In 19th Century England it was not unusual for
an older person, primarily a wealthy widow, or older never married lady,
to take a young man as her 'protege'.

She would groom him, teach him manners and protocols.
He would be her escort to the sophisticated functions.
She would introduce him to people he needed to meet.
Her introduction was the true gift.

If he were not her protege he would never
be exposed to such exalted company.

It was expected he would use the alliances he made during his time as
protege to help him in life. As he rose in society he would remember
his benefactor and insure she received all necessary invitations
and deference.

Rather unfortunate Errors

It was not extremely unusual for the Benefactor, who might be fifteen years
older (or less) than her protege, to develope feelings towards him.

Not that they would be acted upon, (this is Victorian England) but that
they would sweeten the relationship.

In one unfortunate case, the young man, who had no inkling that his
benefactor held a rogue affection for him, asked a favour;
would she groom his fiance?

The results were devastating.

The Benefactor, so hurt, so jealous, made the girl totally ridiculous in a way
that the Protege would not grasp.

She then dropped him as an 'embarrassment' and moved on to someone else,
while he and his bride fell beyond the pale.

He had no idea what had happened.
His ex-Benefactor would not receive him.

This is what happens when one is not alert to the signals being sent.


This kind of undermining is not limited to 19th Century England, nor older women/younger men.

This is what happens when one misreads intent,
and grants too much trust to a person with alterior movitives.

Had the Young Man in the example, asked the older woman for a favour in purchasing a home, hiring a butler, hosting a formal dinner she would have
given him the most excellent advice and assistance.

Had the young man be even slightly aware that she had specific feelings for him,
he would never have asked her to assist his fiance, in fact, he never would have
mentioned his relationship..

It proved, in an objective examination, that he was incapable of 'reading' people and was not a suitable member of the upper class.

This 'misreading' of another's interest can be detrimental to one's future.

As a Newbie

When one is new, whether to a school, a job, a
congregation, being able to read people is survival.

It is not just getting the 'titles' straight, it is knowing the connections,
especially those outside of the school, job, and congregation.

Jumping into a dynamic situation unaware of the hidden links will lead to
that point beyond failure.

As in the story of the Protege, one's oblivion to unseen 'forces' will put one
in a worse position.

Modern MisReading

Dale came into the organisation and knew Alvin was the Top Dog.
He didn't know other connections Alvin had.
He didn't have the 'backstory.'

Dale tried to step into his footprints Alvin made.

He didn't grasp why Alvin was so accommodating, he simply thought he had
a 'Benefactor'.

Dale felt he could exert himself and toss words at those he assumed were low
on the totem pole. He didn't realise to whom Alvin paid respect, or the linkages.

When Alvin virtually slapped him down, Dale was alone in the stagnant pool
he had thought a flowing river. He had no one he could call, no one from
whom he could gain aid.

He hadn't known that although Alvin walked all over Stan that Stan was his
nephew and he would not allow a stranger to 'dis' him.

Dale hadn't known that outside of the organisation Alvin had a certain respect
for Charlotte and would not appreciate a dig made against her.

Dale didn't realise that by dismissing Beth as if she was no one would cut him
off from a veritable fount of wisdom, or that Eli wasn't one he could ignore.

So Dale was left more isolated than he would have been if he hadn't met Alvin.

At the Work Place

As foolish as Dale was, he doesn't begin to compare to Benny.
Benny didn't know that he'd gotten the job Carmine had applied for.

Thinking to get her input on an issue she gave him the kind of advice that
could only be carried out safely if he were Carmine.

Carmine, to her credit, had prefaced her remarks with what she would do,
before giving a few academic points which sounded good; but not for a new employee.

There are those with long track records who can get away with almost anything
due to their history, their connections, and other personal features.
New Employees have no history. No one owes them any favours.

Benny, taking Carmine's advice was soon unemployed, and although Carmine
never did get that post, Benny's reliance on her judgment had him lose it.

Who is Who

When you get advice, check from whom it comes.

Check the antecedents, and don't make assumptions. People will excoriate those
they actually love if annoyed; but this is private stock. It is not open to others.

Try to know who is who, and not just what you can say, but what is behind the facade.

Some people hate the 'Top Dog' . He only holds that post because there isn't any challenger at the moment. Some people have deep seated resentments they will take out on you because they can't touch the target.

Step carefully in new environments.
You don't know where the bodies or the bombs are buried.

And always question why that Benefactor is being so good to you.


Attitude, Grooming, Loyalty, Patronage, Society, Trick, Trust

Meet the author

author avatar kaylar
I am passionate about history, culture, current events, science and law

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author avatar Jerry Walch
3rd Jan 2012 (#)

Well-written. Very good advice. Life is like a minefield and one must watch where he or she steps. In many cases, I think that I would rather cross a minefield on my belly with nothing more than a bayonet to detect the landmines buried in my path, than navigate some of the fields seeded with landmines that life places before us.
Have a happy and prosperous new year.

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author avatar kaylar
3rd Jan 2012 (#)

Thanks Jerry; same to you

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author avatar Write on
3rd Jan 2012 (#)

Interesting. Thanks for writing this.

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author avatar kaylar
3rd Jan 2012 (#)

Thanks write on

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