Save Yourself from Liars, Fakes and Bullshitters
by Wendy Keller
Today I had a call with a potential business colleague. He works with someone I know, and I had an idea that could make us both some money. But when we got on the call, he launched into a diatribe about how “other people” had done him wrong; how much money he’d made on previous things he’d done; and how successful he expected his next venture to be, based on his “extensive experience” which I know wasn’t all that successful.
It felt like I was being sucked into quicksand.
By the end of the call, which happened as rapidly as I could do it, I felt like I wanted to take a shower and use an SOS pad for soap! Eeeew!
There’s nothing overtly sleazy about this guy. I’m aware that he likely did all that posturing, lying and exaggerating because he wanted to impress me. But we human beings are funny in that way…
We all have a built-in “bullshit detector”… but we don’t always use it.
Setting aside the reasons why we don’t, here are some “What To Do About It” steps that can help us when we feel ourselves attracted to the spider’s web…
When reading or listening to anything – from news to a friend’s glorious vacation story to a marketer’s easy steps to making millions in 30 days – do a “gut check.” Even if you’re wrong and the person is totally legit, your gut will tell you whether or not this is right for you. Your senses are always on high alert – that’s how our distant ancestors made it long enough to procreate. Listen to that “small voice” inside of you.
When you suspect someone is being less than honest in a real interaction (for example, on the phone or on purpose), politely ask qualifying questions.
I remember the first time my dad caught me in a lie. I’d pretended I couldn’t hear my mother calling me to dinner because I wanted to stay with my friends in the sand pile in Tommy’s yard next door. I told my dad it was because I’d had my head buried in the sand for a long time, “like an ostrich.”
I was about eight.
Not only do I now know that ostriches don’t actually do that, but on that day, I learned the price of being caught in a blatant lie.
When you ask an adult for more details and they are lying, or bullshitting, chances are they will flare up, talk louder, faster, change the subject or attack you in some way. That’s a sure fire sign something’s amiss.
In the case of bullshit when you’re not interacting with the person in real time, such as in print or on TV or the internet, pause for a moment and ask, “Does this sound too good to be true?” or “Does this sound too perfect to be true?”
I’ve heard it said that Facebook is a depression prompt for some people. “Why does everyone have a better life than I do?” or “What’s wrong with me?” Asking yourself critical questions gives you the perspective you need to discern what’s real and what isn’t, and maintain a healthy sense of yourself.
If it is too good to be true, it probably isn’t.
Un-slime yourself immediately. For me, that’s a matter of taking a few deep breaths, reflecting on how I want to be sure I communicate more honestly in the future, and releasing judgement of the person/company that I suspect is bullshitting me. They probably have their reasons – everyone has reasons for everything they do. Some people shake it off, literally. You might want to get up and walk around for a few minutes. Take a mini-break or read something completely distracting.
Make a new plan, Stan. We can dislike the bullshit, we can reject the offer, we can avoid future interactions, we can walk away, we can think of something else if we’re forced to listen, take it with “a grain of salt”, on and on. You have a choice. You don’t have to whip out your credit card to get that Special Report that will help you make all that money in 30 days. You don’t have to agree with anyone else’s point of view. You don’t have to even reply or respond, in many cases.
You are at choice. Take back your choice and make the best decision for yourself.
We don’t have to be victims. We don’t have to absorb the crazy-making of other people’s bullshit, lies or confusing conversations. There’s no reason to engage with frauds, charlatans and questionable people.
If your gut tells you it isn’t true, listen to yourself and take immediate, appropriate action.