Growing up in a southern traditional household, I was taught manners and to be polite. I was also taught to NOT rock the boat.
I suppose it’s fine to a point is social situations where you have no intention of being nothing more than acquaintances with a person. You have nothing invested in that kind of relationship. You’re not going to have a long-term relationship with them or do business with them.
As I approached the age of 16, all legal work was game to earn a living and I shouldn’t be too picky because one could never be too prepared. Yes, when starting out most can’t be picky, but the mindset was typically – “money’s money.” If someone wanted to hire you that was a good thing, never mind if you thought it was a good fit, or if you are interested in the work.
I didn’t have a name for intuition till early high school and even then, it was light discussion among friends – something mentioned in women and teen magazines as something all females should have. I wasn’t sure how to talk about that body/gut feeling and or know if it was the same as intuition. Parents and teachers didn’t give it much credit. At the time, the local public library wasn’t stocked with much info on it.
Old habits/beliefs die hard. Until about 7 years ago, I’ve taken on some freelance clients or partnerships for the sake of money/survival/not rocking the boat/being polite that I “knew” at a gut level weren’t a good idea – and proved themselves to be a bad decision.
I’ve come a long way from those childhood/teenage beliefs. Particularly when they come in conflict with using my intuition. I haven’t thrown my manners or sense of practicality about money out the window. I just give my intuition as much, and sometimes more notice than old-fashioned manners or my parent’s ideas about work.
Recently, a business salesman and owner approached me during a delayed flight about working for him. He seemed like a nice enough person. He talked at length about business, family and some random topics in between. Twenty minutes into our conversation, I felt myself wanting to put distance between our seats, but it was too crowded. There was nothing he did specifically that was alarming. I just felt increasingly uneasy. He gave me his business cards for two companies he owns after he learned that I was a freelance copy writer and worked with other marketing professionals. He mentioned that in light of the advertising/marketing help he
needed, that money was not an issue, “I’m good for it,” he said. I thanked him, but said nothing else.
I mentioned my feelings of being weirded out to my husband who was with me when we got home. He said, “Yes, you should listen to your gut. I thought there was something off about him, too.” I researched the guy’s companies later that week. They had a mix of good and bad reviews. A recent one stood out. I’m paraphrasing here – Don’t work with this guy. He seems sketchy. I ended up not hiring him after he told me about having hundreds of dollars in overdrafts (he actually showed me proof of) to run both of his companies.
If I’d decided to work with him or refer him to a colleague for the sake of being helpful/polite/following up, who knows if this guy would’ve ever been able to pay for the work?
Anytime you have an unsettling feeling about someone take heed. Manners and good social grace won’t always save you from getting short-changed, or a lawsuit. So, if you have these old-fashioned habits/rules about manners ringing in your head in these situations, notice how your body feels. Is there tightness in your stomach? Do you feel nauseous? Or, do you feel in general very uneasy? There’s truth there. Follow it.