Believe Them The First Time - 6 Questions to Help Hear Your Inner Voice
When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. Don’t wait for them to show you again. If we’d all actually believe our eyes and ears and listen to our gut feelings, we’d avoid a lot of pain and heartache. From business relationships to dating, and from online communications to in-person meetings, you can believe what people tell you…if you know how to listen.
I met someone recently I liked and felt comfortable with almost instantly. This is rare for me, and was almost a “red flag” in and of itself. However, when I considered what I knew about this person, that added context increased my comfort level, as did his willingness to answer questions directly and share relevant historical, professional, and personal information. We discussed appropriate topics, he respected my personal space, and allowed me to set the pace of our meeting.
What’s the context? How long have you known this person? How did you meet? Do you have shared business associates or friends, or did you simply meet by chance or through a shared activity or common location?
What does the person want? If they are asking for too much, too soon, that should serve as a warning. Is a new coworker asking you to cover for them? Is a first date automatically expecting to spend the night with you? If they're asking for more than you’re willing to give, say no and be prepared for further rebuttals. Whether they're asking for money, a ride, to hold your baby, to enter your home, or any favor you’re uncomfortable granting, trust your intuition and stand up for yourself.
Do they have something to hide? Perhaps they avoid certain topics or divert your attention any time you get too close to a particular subject. Watch for someone who embellishes too much, can’t keep their story straight, or is unwilling to share information that’s generally considered “normal.” Be sure to consider context here as well.
Do they insinuate themselves into your life? Whether it’s a coworker casually joining a conversation or meeting where they don't belong, or an acquaintance showing up at your home or work “by coincidence,” trust your gut feeling. Don’t let social pressures ("I don’t want to be rude") cause you to put yourself in danger or at a disadvantage. Don’t let someone into your home that you wouldn’t have invited anyway, especially if it’s an unexpected visit.
Does a stranger or acquaintance use “forced teaming” as a manipulation? Say you and another person are walking from a store to the parking lot and it’s starting to rain. They turn to you and say, “We’d better get those groceries loaded fast!” and moves to help you put your things into your vehicle. Remember, you don’t know this person and you didn’t ask for their help. If your gut tells you “NO,” then firmly decline and be vigilant until they leave.
Are you seeing a distinct change in behavior? If an acquaintance, a familiar stranger, or even a friend suddenly displays erratic behavior, ask yourself why. What’s causing the sudden change, and how does it affect you? Perhaps you’re in the car with a coworker who begins driving recklessly because they're angry. It’s important that you speak up and don’t rationalize their behavior, risking an accident. Or maybe a dependable friend begins “flaking out” on lunch dates or other activities, and drops off your radar. Take the time to check on them…they may have concerns you don’t realize, need assistance, or simply want a listening ear. Again, trust your intuition and don’t put yourself in danger by taking it for granted that the situation is safe.
Pay attention and be alert.
Trust your instincts.
Don’t make excuses or rationalize.
Consider everything you know, put it in context, and act accordingly.