How's your BS radar?
Every person we know was once a stranger. We met, interacted, drew conclusions about one another- and decided this was someone we would like to get to know better, possibly in an intimate way. We did this by using our internal sensors (gut) that took those experiences and converted them into both emotional and physical (chemical) reactions that formed our first impressions.
For some people, these sensors work fairly well, resulting in good choices about who to befriend or date. For others, their internal radar seems to have a serious malfunction that has left them with a history of friendships and/or intimate relationships that are unfulfilling, one-sided, or worse.
Which of these sounds like you? Can you detect deceit, sense traits in others that you would find undesirable, get strong signals when something isn't as it seems, and/or read another person accurately based on minimal exposure to them? Or, do you find that you are often disappointed by new friends or lovers who seemed "so great" at first, but much less so after getting to know them better?
If you consider yourself a "poor judge of character" or someone who is known to be gullible, taking everyone at face value, you would benefit from tuning up your BS radar. The following are specific things to observe and reflect on the next time you encounter a new potential friend or date.
Throw red flags down when you see any of these:
* A lack of consistency in what they say and what you are both seeing and hearing
If someone is telling you how successful, intelligent, and talented they are--but their non-verbal behavior, dress and overall manner say something very different, you either have someone who misrepresents themselves or has a problem with their self-awareness or self-esteem.
* What you are hearing/seeing seems just too good to be true
If something sounds farfetched or unreal, it probably is. Use common sense here. If you are not sure, try to check out the information with another source like mutual friends, or the internet.
* They are negative, derogatory, and/or judgmental in their comments about others or general conversation
If someone is this way when they are on their best behavior it shows a complete lack of self-awareness and good manners, and can be a warning that there is some real anger beneath that surface.
* Their friends are poorly behaved, defensive or make you uncomfortable in some way
Remember that a person's friends are a reflection of them, as we all seek out people like ourselves. If you don't connect or relate to the friends, chances are that you will have little in common with this individual.
* The content of their conversation is inappropriate to the setting--they share too much or what they share is too personal, detailed or makes you uncomfortable
A clear sign of low emotional intelligence, and can be a symptom of poor self-esteem. Unless you have this problem in common, you will have difficulty relating to and conversing with them. This is one of the issues that are usually cited when two people are intellectually incompatible. It is often a source of embarrassment to an individual when their partner relates this way in social settings around co-workers, friends and family.
* Their behavior towards others, especially wait staff or nearby strangers is rude, condescending or disrespectful
This is often a sign of a bully. It is also the behavior employed by an insecure person who is trying to impress others- which this behavior certainly does not.
Read these over, then reflect on the impressions your past and present friends and lovers would have made on you had you consciously applied these to those first interactions you had together. Then make sure you keep these handy as you go about your life at work and play. They could be very useful tools in creating healthy and mutually satisfying friendships and more.
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Toni Coleman, LCSW
© Copyright 2008 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.
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