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6 Warnings to People Who Are Too Trusting

Viewing people through rose-colored glasses can cause you big problems.

No author listed, WannaPick, Creative Commons
Source: No author listed, WannaPick, Creative Commons

Going through life is easier when you trust that most people’s motives are good. Whether or not that's true, it’s unarguable that some people have paid a huge price for being too trusting. Being aware of the following should help:

Don’t be blinded by looks, flirtation, nor sex. Some people who have the gift of looks, charisma, or sex appeal, use it to unfair advantage. In fact, such people could be much more trouble than they're worth, whether in business or personal relationships, but they wield their looks, smiles, or sexuality to blind the recipient, even at outsized cost. To take an extreme example, spies have gotten people to sacrifice a nation’s security merely by “bestowing” sex on someone. There are no guarantees, but your best shot may be to view the whole person and their overall behavior.

Some people are kind mainly because they want something. Yes, some people are nice for its own sake or because they genuinely like you and want to do nice things for you. But other people use kindness as a weapon: to disarm and/or create obligation so that later, they can extract selfish benefits well beyond the kindness they bestowed. So when someone “caringly” asks how you are or gives you a little gift, don’t jump to that being a ploy, but keep your eyes open: Does the person overall seem kind or at least balanced, or does he or she seem to, out of character, unexpectedly do something nice, yet otherwise seem to focus on taking care of Number One?

Be wary of praise from people who you pay, like counselors, teachers, coaches, etc. Whether true or not, saying nice things about you or your work increases their chances of keeping your money coming, getting better user reviews, and getting your praise, at far less risk to them than if they were critical of you. Sure, some people get off on being unduly critical, but all things equal, you might give greater trust to someone who bestows legitimate-seeming criticism and even pessimism, even though that doesn’t feel as good as praise does.

Beware of a “generous” offer. Yes, sometimes your negotiating opponent, professional or personal, makes a generous offer because he or she doesn’t like negotiation or simply because he or she likes you. But other times, what seems a generous offer hides that a better offer could have been had, that the product or service is worse than you think, or that the person will be generous this time but will want a bigger advantage soon regarding something else.

For example, your partner knows that you love to travel but s/he doesn’t. S/he cheerily suggests you go on a trip together. Beware that s/he may be after far bigger game. For example, s/he wants to marry you but you're unsure. So s/he softens you up with the trip and will make "the ask" during the trip at the moment when you’re feeling especially appreciative about the trip, perhaps at that perfect, romantic dinner, after a couple of glasses of wine. And voila, the marriage train has left the station: S/he tells everyone after which it's really hard to put on the brakes. (Or was that some romantic comedy?)

Beware of feigned anger or tears. Much anger and tears are real, but some people have the gift and manipulativeness of manufacturing anger or tears to get you to do their bidding. For example, in a negotiation, your opponent explodes: "Your offer is outrageous!" S/he may not really feel that way but knows that manufactured outburst could make you feel defensive and thus softened-up get you to give up a huge amount. Easier said than done, but try to make your decisions on the merits, not the melodrama.

Beware of revealing your weaknesses or past errors. Yes, sometimes, revealing a flaw can open the door to a deeper relationship. But other times, your admission will be used against you. For example, let's say that you admit that you’re insecure about your intelligence. In subsequent arguments, the other person can leverage that, for example, “By your own admission, you question your own intelligence. I think that may be why your position here really is indefensible.”

Beware of the following tactic used to extract a weakness or past failing: The person reveals a small weakness or past failing, not to deepen the relationship but to encourage you to admit a more serious failing, which can then be used against you.

The takeaway

It's probably wise to assume reasonable benevolence . . . but, especially if you're a successful person, be open to other motives.

I read this aloud on YouTube.

Facebook image: ASDF_MEDIA/Shutterstock

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