Deal with the devil

I recently had an unpleasant experience on a deal with an organization that had an unscrupulous track record. In retrospect, I realize that's exactly what I should expect when doing a deal with the devil!

I had entered the deal despite knowing and having an uneasy gut feeling about the devil's unsavory past. This is classic. Well-meaning people make deals with the devil because of a few possible reasons: (1) they don't know or assume good intent, (2) feel they don't have a choice, (3) they are tempted by the upside, (4) they think the devil's changed or they can transform the devil, (5) they think they can out-devil the devil. Almost always, they end up regretting making the deal. 

Devils are cunning masters of psychology. They can appear grand, altruistic, powerful, and charming. They know how to make you feel special with sweet talks and gestures. They can character shift like chameleons. If cornered about their past, they defend, deflect, create moral ambiguity, or assure they are different now. They understand your desires and offer a sweet deal that you can't refuse.

But once the deal is locked, the devil eventually emerges. Soon you start seeing signs of the devil being devilish towards others. It makes you uncomfortable, but the devil is still treating you well, so you ignore or blame the others. Then you notice more devilish behavior, sometimes even towards you now. If you haven't fully numbed yet, you try to reason with the devil. But the devil doesn't budge and may even transform from charming to chiding or menacing. Now you are in too deep, have too much to lose, and fear the consequences, so you justify and partake. 

If you are feeling uneasy about a deal with a person or organization, listen to your gut, pause, and reevaluate. Actions, evidence, incentives, and written contracts are more telling than words and gestures. If you do decide to go ahead, make sure the deal lets you walk away easily and protects you well from bad behavior.