Red flags for hiring (or dating!) the wrong people

“Mr Beaver, I’ve always thought I was a good judge of character, and I’m very confident, but I have to have the word suction cup” in shiny neon green tattooed on my forehead. I constantly hire the wrong people to work in my accounting firm and end up feeling very sad and lonely when the women I date just turn out to be looking for money, gifts and weekends away. out of town at my expense,” an email from “Ben” began.

“You had some great articles on how to avoid being scammed and how to say ‘no’ that was based on interviews with a psychology professor. I bet he would be a source great pointers for avoiding the wrong people, and I imagine there are a lot of people like me who could use this information.

We’re not very good at seeing deception

Ben is absolutely right, 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 slightly better level than by toss a coin.

“There is a group of people who, for complex reasons, consistently make the wrong choice, failing to see and hear what others see as warning signs that cry out, ‘This person is giving me a bad hunch’. Don’t hire that person! Don’t take that person on as a client and definitely don’t date that person!”

As a lawyer, I’ve found that even in my profession, with clients like Ben, lawyers often blame the victim, with an instinctive “just say no” response, asking, “Why did you get involved in this early relationship? square?”

Professor Vega looks deeper:

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

“As a community, we ostracize and punish those who violate our shared expectations and standards. But as individuals, we’re on our own to spot shady characters, avoid those who might harm us, and protect our well-being. Our defenses are not infallible in distinguishing friend from foe.

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

“The Bens of the world willingly attract and succumb to the will of those who manipulate and impress them, acting nicely, using flattery, and engaging in active deceit.

“Thus, we tend to convince ourselves of the rightness of the decision to be involved with this person and to rationalize the apprehensions and their behaviors that we do not want to see. Denial and self-delusion are huge factors that take place in our minds and hearts, our emotions and our actions.

‘”But I love it! It’s love, that’s why I’m here!” When we say love is blind, it really is and obscures the exact feelings.

The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior

I asked Vega, “How do we get into a situation where we once thought it was him or that person, or will that person make a great VP of marketing?”

“It’s a failure to suspend skepticism,” he replied, adding, “We’re looking at all the things that don’t make it clear who this person really is, including: physical appearance, titles prestigious, trappings of status, flattery and exuding confidence.

“In a job interview, red flags include inflated qualifications, being overconfident, qualifications that aren’t verified, and always saying the right thing. One question that should be asked more often – and can really save the day – is, “What areas of improvement would you like to work on?”

“If they say, nothing, do not hire this person!

“Romantically, as we search for a connection, we ask for trouble by overlooking evidence of their shortcomings, such as: lying, insincerity, breaking commitments, exaggerating, borrowing money , manipulation or fear in the relationship.”

We all know the saying that a leopard does not change its spots. For Vega, this translates to “the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior”.

So how can we discover those things in their background that are causing trouble?

“You have to do a correct background check,” Vega points out. “That means checking references, college degrees, previous employment and never trust until you have verified!

After hearing the horror stories of scammed lovers, lawyers recommend having a real background check done by a private detective, not one of those $29 Internet promotions, which are often worthless. Especially for the elderly and emotionally vulnerable – who have been victims of romance scams, lost money, or discovered the person they fell in love with was fake – most private investigators, police officers and lawyers advise getting as much information out of any new romantic interest as soon as possible, especially if you see dishonesty or things just don’t match up.

In my law firm, I tell vulnerable clients to first ask the person for permission to check their background using their driver’s license, passport, medical ID or other means to verify them. . Someone legitimate may be surprised by the request but should cooperate fully, especially if they’ve talked about a future together.

But if they refuse, you have two choices recommended by all the private investigators, cops and divorce lawyers I’ve spoken to on this subject:

  1. While they sleep, use your cell phone to take screenshots of their driver’s license, passport, and health insurance cards – all of which can serve as a basis for a detailed investigation of their criminal cases. or civilians or their professional background.
  2. Disconnect the relationship immediately, because a lack of transparency in a relationship means there was never one to begin with.

Go slowly!

So what’s Professor Vega’s best advice for any interpersonal relationship, whether romantic or employer/employee?

“Take it slow. Never trust until you’ve checked. Know that the ideal sucker is someone with low self-esteem who doesn’t think they deserve a good person in their life. They telegraph vulnerability, and smiley is always there, picking up those signals.

“Your best defense is to find out as much as you can about that other person. Know yourself – your weaknesses – and find out as much as you can about the other person before getting involved.

Lawyer at the bar, author of “You and the Law”

After attending law school at Loyola University, H. Dennis Beaver joined the Kern County District Attorney’s Office in California, where he established a consumer fraud section. He is into the general practice of law and writes a column in a syndicated newspaper, “You and the Law”. Through his column, he offers free help to readers who need down-to-earth advice. “I know it sounds corny, but I love being able to use my education and experience to help, just to help. When a reader contacts me, it’s a gift.”