This is The Mask!!!

Do you know what’s one of the sweetest things in life for me? Right now, at this very moment when I’m typing out this mail, my baby girl is asleep next to me – snuggled up under the covers while I type away on the laptop.

Her hair is toussled, her fists clenched and her mouth smells like a drainage pipe.

And yet, she’s the epitome of pure bliss and innocence.

100% truth and purity.

But, not all of us are like that. #storytime

Back when I was younger, I was an idiot.

(And as I’m typing this out, I realize that I’ve been an idiot a lot.)

I had a messed up childhood where I never studied in the same school for more than a year in a row. In fact, I made my first friend in engineering college.

As a result, I had the emotional maturity of a six year old.


And when I was being a big baby, I used to have the most difficulty in understanding people – especially in social situations. They never said what they meant – and kept on hiding behind masks.

Oh man… life was an absolute shitshow until I figured out how to deal with these masks.

Here’s how to deal with them…


  • People are difficult to read
  • You struggle with social interaction
  • There are many communication gaps
  • There are many expectation mismatches
  • You feel cheated at times
  • People let you down
  • There seems to be no fairness or justice in this world
  • You have difficulty trusting people


  • Naivety
    • Too unsophisticated or innocent to realise that people wear masks
    • Take things at face value
      • Believe everything said is true
        • Oblivious to social norms
        • Operating like a machine
        • Low Emotional Quotient
      • Ignoring unsaid things
        • Body language
        • Reading between the lines
      • Believing in & acting in accordance to a ‘code of conduct’ (usually unspoken)
        • Chivalry
        • Gentleman’s Agreement
        • Decency
    • Don’t have enough experience to realise the different types of masks people wear
      • Haven’t lived long enough
      • Not seen enough megaserials/soap operas
  • Cultural expectations
    • In some cultures…
      • Honesty is valued
        • Masks are rare
        • People speak their minds
        • Do not intend to cause harm
      • Harmony is valued
        • Masks are the norm
        • People don’t like to say no or rock the boat
        • They will drop polite hints before agreeing with difficulty
      • Privacy is valued
        • Masks are useful
        • People don’t want to share true thoughts/feelings
        • Masks help ease social interactions
      • Community is valued
        • Masks are useful
        • Help minimise friction
        • Places collective progress ahead of individual satisfaction
  • Personal Bias
    • Our psyche influences interpretation
      • Trusting?
        • They don’t wear masks with me
      • Suspicious?
        • Is everyone hiding something from me?
      • Easy going?
        • It doesn’t really matter
    • Can lead to false positives and negatives
      • Course correction over time
      • Need experience to sort it out
        • Only if you learn from it!
  • Hard Reality
    • People have their own reasons
      • Their goals don’t align with ours
        • Opposing?
        • Orthogonal?
      • They are suspicious by nature
        • Don’t want to let their guard down
        • They don’t trust us yet
      • They don’t want to reveal everything
        • Private people
        • Choose not to share


  • Know that people wear masks
    • To protect us from them
    • To protect themselves from us
    • To maintain harmony & peace
  • Know WHEN people wear masks
    • Talking about something personal
    • In times of possible conflict
    • When there’s low alignment between what you want and what they want
  • Learn how to see through them
    • Understand body language
    • Study human behaviour
    • Look for consistencies and anomalies
      • Observe people in different situations
      • Run your experiments
  • Discover if they’re wearing masks INTENTIONALLY
    • Examine the relationship
    • Do they have an ulterior motive?
    • Is it a force of habit?
    • Does it really matter to you?


  • You have knowledge
    • Masks exist
    • People wear masks for different reasons
    • Not all of them are out to get you
  • You have peace
    • Sometimes, people don’t tell the truth
    • That’s ok
    • You can pick and choose what will affect you
    • You know how to respond
    • Build up your emotional intelligence
  • You can respond instead of reacting
    • No need for knee jerk responses
      • That’s a reaction
    • Think and plan your response
      • That’s to respond

Your Turn

  • Examine close relationships
    • Colleagues
    • Friends
    • Acquaintances
  • Study their behaviour
    • Identify patterns
    • Look for tells
    • Run experiments
  • Read up on psychology
    • Drive by Daniel Pink
  • Read up on power
    • 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

Brought to you by Epic Career Labs

Run by Arvindh Sundar

  • Goal: Increase Job Security With E.P.I.C Transformations
  • Mission: Liberate a million millennials from an unsatisfying career
  • Get in touch at

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About the author

Arvindh Sundar

I help working professionals find direction, take control and build an epic career using the power E.P.I.C Transformation. This is the content I have created to help others. I hope it's useful to you as well. If you like this and find it useful, join the community here.

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