“Intuition is always right in at least two important ways: it is always in response to something, and it always has your best interest at heart.” This quote is from Gavin De Becker’s 1997 book The Gift of Fear. A long time favorite of mine, I often give away a copy during my talks on personal safety. I have seen this truth played out in my own life, as well as in others who share their stories with me. De Becker’s premise is that fear is actually a gift, meant to protect us and warn us of impending danger. We often brush these warnings aside, preferring to focus on the positive and not offend anyone, hoping that we are wrong. We rationalize that we are only being silly, paranoid, or that we are over-reacting.
Case in point: A friend asked me to make inquiries about an individual who was dating her sister. She feared that he was not such a great influence, but didn’t have concrete grounds to support her fears. I knew of someone he had worked with and made a phone call. At first the lady sang his praises, “He is a great guy; one of my best friends. I would trust him implicitly.” Sounds good, right? The more we talked, the more the praises waned somewhat. “He does have a little bit of an anger problem, but so do a lot of people. He was probably justified in being upset when he got laid off.” And then we go one more step forward. “The boss told him not to come back in the office. He was talking bad about the boss…but he’s really a great guy. I don’t think he meant anything by it.” Another step. “He does tend to exaggerate some, but he’s like family to me. I don’t think you have anything to worry about.” REALLY? What is it that makes us try to paint a bad picture to look good? I’m sure she didn’t want to say anything disparaging about this guy, but the more she talked, the clearer the true picture came into focus. This is NOT a nice guy.
Many is the time you will hear someone say, “I don’t know why I don’t like that person.” Keep listening. If they continue to talk (and you know what to listen for), you’ll probably hear clues even though they may not recognize them. Learn to trust your instincts. If you have a bad feeling about someone, pause and review. What have they done or said? How did it make you feel? Tune into your gift of fear.