“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
This quote by poet and author Maya Angelou has stuck with me over the years. I’ll admit, though, that I’ve not always abided by it. Like me, you’ve probably given those challenging people in your life a second chance — or a third or fourth. It’s only human nature.
I just ran across some research, though, that jumped out at me. Author Brianna Wiest, an expert in the area of emotional intelligence, has compiled some observations along these lines that are very thought provoking. Coupled with my own professional experience, here are some insights that might strike a chord with you.
When a friend has something negative to say about everyone they know, believe that they are treating you the same way behind your back.
Those who gossip with you will gossip about you.
As the author of several books, including “101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think,” Wiest knows a thing or two about relationships.
- When someone tells you they “aren’t looking for a relationship” right now, believe them. That’s a classic sign of not wanting to commit.
- If someone is overly judgmental toward others, believe that he or she has something they want very, very badly (and are convinced they cannot get).
- Notice the way someone treats strangers, especially those who can’t do anything for them, because that’s how much they really respect others.
- If someone tells you there’s a certain friendship pattern that always happens to them (always losing their best friends, for example), it’s a warning.
- When people don’t show up for you — especially for significant times and events — believe they’re not that committed to your friendship. Everyone says they care. Those who show up actually do.
My background in communications has given me a heads up on red flags that can appear with friends, acquaintances and colleagues, as conveyed in the examples below. Wiest also boils down a number of these points:
- If someone always feels the need to correct you and never agrees with you, believe that they’re threatened by you and feel the need to be dominant.
- If you tell someone they’ve hurt you and they immediately deny the way you feel, believe that they’re selfish at best, and narcissistic at worst.
- When someone defends their harsh and hurtful opinions by saying they’re “just being honest,” believe that they lack a decent amount of empathy.
- If someone immediately denies criticism without even considering that the claim could be true, believe that on some level, they are sure it is.
- If someone is willing to make fun of another person in a way that’s hurtful, believe that their own insecurities run far deeper than you may realize.
- If someone has to repeatedly affirm that they “don’t care” about something, chances are, they very much care about that thing.
- When someone makes a passive aggressive comment that strikes you as though it would be offensive if it wasn’t laughed off, believe that is their true opinion.
“The Truth About Everything” is another of Wiest’s books about human behavior that contains some pearls of wisdom. Taking the time to observe the following actions can save you from a lot of eventual heartache.
- Notice the way someone treats themselves — and others — when things aren’t going their way, because that’s who they really are.
- If someone always seems to have new friends and can’t keep a job, apartment or group of friends for more than a year, believe that there’s a reason.
- If someone makes you fe
- el weird for no specific reason after you’ve been together for a period of time, believe your instincts. Trust that they are grating on you — even in ways you may not be aware.
- If someone tries to understand the perspective of someone who has hurt them, believe that they are more awake and self-aware than most.
- If someone can be happy for others who are doing better than them in life, believe that they are confident and self-assured.
How carefully do you scrutinize someone when you first meet them? How long are they on “secret probation” before you decide if they’re who you think they are? These are among questions posed by the blog, www.philosoblog.com that can help you zero in on times that you may be too trusting.
If you start to feel like you’re being taken advantage of, take a step back. Look for any familiar patterns. Has this happened to you in the past? If so, what life lessons have you learned — and how could you apply them?
Just don’t be too hard on yourself. After all, this isn’t like a job interview where you can check references, right? As author and astrologer Monte Farber says, “Don’t beware. But be aware.”