Actus reus

If you disagree with a rational person on any given topic, the answer to the following question will usually lead you to an agreement: “What would you need to see to change your mind?”

An irrational person will not be able to answer that question. A disingenuous one will refuse to answer it. Alternatively, they will take a position that is impossible to refute. For example, they will contend that the COVID vaccines contain undetectable microchips that allow the government to track their activities. Or that massive fraud during the 2020 elections will be proven in an upcoming report. Or that the 1969 moon landing was filmed on Earth at a secret location.

Secret. Undetectable. Just wait (and wait, and wait).

Some of our employees are making similar contentions in the workplace right now. The ones who don’t believe in the moon landing are probably not disruptive. Those who believe in election fraud may have caused some friction in the office. And the ones who believe in undetectable microchips have probably accused your company of unethical behavior when you decided to make vaccination a condition of employment.

What to do with such employees? My criminal law teacher, when explaining mens rea and actus reus, liked to remind the class that “you cannot convict a man on his thoughts alone.” In the E&C world, we need to learn to live with disagreeable people. How we treat them must be based on their behavior, not simply their beliefs.

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