People Will Show You Who They Are
If someone tells you they’re unreliable, believe them.
If someone tells you they’re going to harm you or others, believe them.
If someone tells you about their lies, assume that lying is OK with them and that they’ll do it again.
If someone says or does something and it’s so awful that it defies belief, overcome your incredulity and believe it or you might become their next victim.
I’m convinced that if we pay attention – REALLY pay attention, we will spend less time being unpleasantly surprised and more time in the company of people we like and admire. People show who they are all day, through deeds large and small. There’s the old chestnut about watching how a date treats waitstaff. It’s a cliché because it’s true. They’re showing you who they are.
If someone lies to get your attention, assume that they’re OK with lying to get what they want. Don’t be so flattered that they want your attention that you ignore the underlying message.
There’s a dynamic in the show “This is Us” that makes me nuts. Kevin, the selfish addict sibling, tries to reconnect with his high school girlfriend. She wants nothing to do with him because he cheated on her. He finally manages to get her to agree to date again him after telling her that he’s Facebook friends with her, but she doesn’t know it because he uses a pseudonym. So … he has just shown her that he will lie to get what he wants, and somehow this charms her so much she agrees to go out with him? Arrrggghhh!
There’s a guy in my neighborhood who doesn’t want the local elementary school remodeled. He goes door to door, canvassing for his cause. One night he pounded on my door for an inappropriate amount of time, at an inappropriate hour. I finally opened the door because I had to leave to go somewhere, and there he was. When I told him to stop with the late night pounding, he said “well, I just really wanted you to answer. Then he started leaving flowers on my doorstep. I think I have an admirer, but he has already shown me that boundaries mean nothing to him, so, no thanks.
Sometimes it’s so obvious, so in our faces, that it seems impossible to ignore, and yet sometimes we do, because it’s so awful it defies belief. Our current Rump in Chief capitalizes on this. I think some of his supporters don’t believe he would really do X, even though he threatens to. I say, believe him! He will do it and worse! Just because you can’t imagine being that awful don’t assume that he isn’t that awful. Awful people exist.
If you know someone who regularly behaves badly, don’t construct an elaborate narrative to explain away their behavior. They’re showing you who they are. Assess them on the actual things they do, not the motives you have assigned to them.