I learned in enterprise architecture and information architecture that information is power and currency--i.e. that those who have it rule and those who know how to get it--are the kingpins.
They may get information legitimately through research, study, reading, review, and working with others or they may cozy up to others illegitimately, to more to the point--find out "what's going on?" what have they heard. or "what's the real scoop?"
In some cases, it is merely benign networking and that is a healthy thing--or as they say, "it's not what you know, but who you know."
But in other cases, some people may take it too far, and literally prey on others when they are vulnerable, trusting, or simply let their guard down.
We spend a lot of our waking hours in the office , and therefore people's social needs manifest in work friendships, confiding in others, going out for a coffee, lunch, drinks, etc.
However, at work, people are also competitive and can be ruthless in getting what they want, making themselves look good, badmouthing others, going for that "gotcha", and even stealing other people's ideas and hard work--now where did they leave that notebook?
So when you tell an associate something--are they trustworthy with your feelings, experiences, information tidbits or will they take what you share and use it for their own ends?
There are a lot of good, decent people out there, but unfortunately, not all of people are.
Is their face for real or a poker face? Are they playing on your side or playing you? Will they come to your aid at the moment of truth or use the opportunity to thrust the blade through your back.
My father used to joke about some people being two-faced, and then why would they choose that (ugly) one that they have on. :-)
I always learned talk is cheap and actions speak volumes. So when someone asks about your latest project, your kids, or ailing parents--is it from someone who genuinely gives a hoot or from someone who'd like to get you off guard, even for that split second.
In the military, this would be related to psychological operations (PsyOps)--getting into the other's person's head, figuring out what makes them tick, and then using that to extract intelligence or inflict mental and emotional "blows."
In law enforcement, perhaps the equivalent would be the old "good cop, bad cop" routine--where one person offers you some cold water or a cigarette and tells you everything will be alright, while the other person slams the table, yells, threatens, and says "your going to be going away for a long time."
There are lots of ways to get into a person's head, under their skin, and get to that valuable information--without going to the levels of physical, "torture" techniques, some of which have since been generally outlawed such as waterboarding.
So which people that you deal with are good, genuine, helpful, and have integrity, and which are selfish, nasty, and cruel?
It is definitely a challenge day-in and day-out to tell who is who--and you shouldn't let the bad apples out there, ruin your trust in all people--you just have to make sure to look beyond the veneer--to see if the other person is more friend or foe.
(Source Photo: here with attribution to BlueRidgeKitties)