Trust, But Verify

As a rule of thumb, I tend to trust people.

But, while I’ve mostly managed to retain my “glass is ½ full” outlook over the years, I’ve lost much of my innocence and gained a bit more skepticism.

Greater thinkers than I have said that good judgment comes from bad experience, and that most of that comes from bad judgment.

I agree – adding only that the trouble with using experience as a guide, is that the final exam often comes before the lesson.

So, how can anyone learn the lessons of life while minimizing the pain and trauma in doing so?

One of the best tools I’ve found and adopted is the “trust, but verify” concept.

It works in dealing with people in sales and business specifically but also with people in general. It was good advice when I first heard it and I wish I had taken it to heart at that time.

The adage recommends that while someone may be considered reliable, you should also do what you can to verify that his or her information is trustworthy.

By a large percentage, not everyone you run into will have the characteristics described below in this article. But if you do run into one of these characters and don’t recognize it, this fact alone can cause untold trouble to your life, your family and your career.

The personality trait I’m referring to, is the person who plays fast and loose with the truth.

Yes, we’ve all done this on occasion, if only to maintain the social calm and not unnecessarily upset things. But, I’m talking about an individual with a somewhat more sinister attribute: one who is a habitual liar.

Such people lie for no apparent reason. They also count on the basic goodness of the rest of us to get away with dishonesty, deceit and manipulation as a way of life. It’s hard to face that some people could be this way; far easier to dismiss such aberrant behavior, thinking, “It’s probably a bad childhood” or “Oh, they mean well.”

But still, to not call them on it – when you have the chance – only allows them to use the same con on others.

How do you know when you’re dealing with this character?

There are two distinguishing signs:

The first is the “big lie” which disguises the truth by making it “in-credible” – meaning not credible, and therefore, not believable. The “big lie” is far more common than you might think.

If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is,” is a maxim used to identify such methods.

2. The second is the reverse, it’s the “little lie.” This is used to slide in an untruth, unnoticed under the cover of the overall general truth. Often the “little lie” turns out to be the most important element.

The devil is in the details,” is a truism often applied in this circumstance.

In either case, if you can help it, you’re better off not doing business with either kind.

Once you recognize the methods such people use all the time, you’ll never be fooled again, or at least not so often.

Toward this end, I’ve compiled a list of one-liners to open your eyes to what these personalities are really up to.

I sincerely believe your life and career will become smoother and easier to navigate by using this simple tool: trust, but verify.

Below are some of my thoughts on the subject. Your experiences and opinions may differ from my own, but at least these will give you pause for thought.

  1. If something feels wrong, it is wrong.
  2. Not everyone is a liar, but anyone can be.
  3. Don’t believe everything you hear or see; trust, but verify.
  4. If they’re lying to others, they’re lying to you.
  5. If someone is trying to manipulate you, they’re also lying to you.
  6. If it sounds “too good to be real, it’s probably illegal.”
  7. All people lie some of the time, some people lie all of the time.
  8. People can justify anything. Chronic liars justify everything.
  9. Trust your instincts, intuition, and perception or you won’t have them.
  10. Liars are looking out for their own self-interest, no matter what they’re saying.
  11. If you are only hearing what you want to hear, you’re being set up.
  12. All liars are cowards. All cowards are liars.

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