1) You are paranoid and they are after you: Ages ago, I was in a minor car accident in Arkansas. No big deal right? I get his insurance, he gets mine, we part ways, right? Uhhhh no. His first words are, after exchanging insurance info "Now that I think about it, my neck is really hurting." For more recent examples, take a peek at the stuff about Sylvie Ditman A/K/A Patty Patchrint and the Grant Foundation Center.
2) Take a tip from Mae West: "I never listen to what men say anymore. I just watch what they do." She was right and the same goes for women. Do you have any idea how many people made promises to me in my life? Do you know how few kept them?
3) Ambition is considered threatening, not inspiring. The goal of most people is to have a place to live, a car to drive, someone to have sex with, a tv to watch, cheetos to eat and a check from the government. Pulling themselves together and bettering themselves is hard, risky work. Watching you do it just pisses them off. This is true whether they live in a trailer in Utah or a penthouse on the Upper East Side. Most will reflexively try to undermine you every step of the way.
3a) People love comfort. Even if comfort is living in an outhouse. The worst thing you can do is disturb their comfort.
4) "Tell someone to go to hell in a way that makes them want to drop dead right there." I heard that on the Emmys and its true. Damned tough to do though.
5) Loyalty is dead. My godfather worked for almost fifty years: he had a total of two employers. I have been working for about sixteen years. I have had at least 200 employers, including freelance work/clients. Everyone is looking to get over on someone else. This goes beyond work. You can have a new BFF (best friends forever!) every three seconds, a new spouse every three months. Not long ago, a woman in Westchester, an attorney at a Manhattan firm, had the bright idea of hey, my kids are fighting in the car, so why not pull over and kick them out right there on the highway? Tom DeLay once adopted a kid- and then gave the kid back to the orphanage. Newt Gingrich ditched his first wife while she was ill with cancer. Get the picture?
6) Shame is also dead. Recently, I was in court. The lady testified that she and I never emailed each other. I promptly had her read the emails we exchanged into the record. She did. Then she repeated that we never emailed each other.
Now the hard part is not learning these tips, its putting them into practice.