The Fulton Number

Place yourself in the following scenario:

You must enter a room, which you need nothing from. Your reasons for going into this room are not religious, political nor financial and there is nothing to be gained from what you do once inside. Coincidentally, already inside are ten random individuals, all of whom you are familiar with, as they are with each other. Besides these 10 people, the room is completely empty, there is literally nothing to do but be sociable.

Question: What is the highest number of people in this room you could accept not liking you without feeling nervous and uncomfortable?

If you were to enter this room, and could deal with three out of 10 not liking you; but not four out of ten, then three is your Fulton Number.

Assume that these individuals wish you no harm; they just do not care very much for you as a person. Remember that everyone in this room knows each other, and everyone is upfront and truthful about their feelings, therefore you know which individuals like you and which do not.

In a room of 10 people, how many could truly dislike you without you becoming intimidated?

This was a scenario Micahela Fulton posed to me during an evening of random banter. Although she didn’t realize it at the time, I found it to be an incredibly profound question.

My answer was eight.

In a room of 10 random people, I could honestly deal with eight individuals not liking me, while still retaining a decent level of comfort. I credit having such a high Fulton Number to the fact that I have done a lot speaking, writing and public performances; I have been both booed and applauded on a few occasions, which has forced me to develop a thick skin towards the opinions of others. Assuming none of these eight wish to do me any harm, I would only need two of out 10 to like me.

Nine out of 10 would be a little unsettling; the urge to side with a group may be too great for a weak individual, which may leave me out in the cold.

And 10 out of ten would be very difficult for me to deal with; I simply would not feel safe in a room in which 100 percent of its guests did not like me.

My mother said that her Fulton Number was 1.

Micahela’s was 2.

What’s yours?

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