Red Flags in Hiring (or Dating!) the Wrong People – Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

“Mr. Beaver, I always thought that I was a good judge of character, and am very trusting, but must have the word “sucker” in bright, neon green tattooed on my forehead. Constantly, I am hiring the wrong people to work in my accounting firm and wind up feeling very sad and alone when the women I date turn out to just be after money, gifts and weekends out of town at my expense,” an email from “Ben” began.

“You had a couple of terrific articles about how to avoid being scammed and learning how to say ‘no’ that were based on interviews with a psychology professor. I’ll bet that he would be an ideal source of pointers on staying away from the wrong people, and I imagine that there are a lot of folks like me who could use that information.”

We Aren’t Very Good at Seeing Deception

Ben is absolutely correct, and psychology professor Luis Vega of California State University, Bakersfield, puts it this way: “Research has shown that the average person can tell lies from truths at a level slightly better than by flipping a coin.

“There is a group of people who, for complex reasons, consistently make the wrong choice, failing to see and listen to what others view as warning signs which shout, ‘This person gives me a bad feeling. Don’t hire that person! Don’t take that person as a client, and certainly don’t DATE that person!’”

As an attorney, I have found that even in my profession, with clients like Ben, lawyers often engage in victim blaming, with a “just say no” knee-jerk response, asking, “Why you did get into this relationship in the first place?”

Professor Vega looks deeper:

“The need for human connection is existential. We are social beings, needing comfort, support, love, bonding, protection and validation from each other. People who jumped from the Twin Towers held hands. It was the last testimony to their existence and the need to be with someone in those terrifying few moments.

“As a community we ostracize and punish those who violate our shared expectations and norms. But as individuals, we are left to our own devices to spot shady characters, avoid those who may do us harm, and protect our well-being. Our defenses are not foolproof in distinguishing friend from foe.

“Our judgment – Should I hire him? Go out with her? – is frequently influenced by wishful thinking, ignoring evidence of bad behavior, swayed by their appearance, and our own existing stereotypes and prejudices, which make excuses for what – later – is clearly seen as unacceptable or dishonest conduct.

“The Bens of the world attract …….


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