People are our greatest asset and also our greatest liability. The right person can add so much value to our lives. They can become life-long friends and walk with us through difficult times as well as share some of our happiest moments.

But trust in the wrong person can make life miserable, extremely so. You can quickly find yourself betrayed and starring at a difficult situation thinking “how did I get here?”

There are times you instinctively know you should not trust someone. I have learned to trust my first gut reaction after getting into a business or personal relationship with someone I had second thoughts about only to be burned by them later.

While I don't think I can teach anyone how to develop an intuition on such matters, I can share some of the signs I look for in a person when I first meet them. These questions have helped me figure out if I should trust them or not. 

How do they treat people whom they perceive "beneath" them?
 I watch closely the reaction of a restaurant server or an assistant when he or she messes up or fails to perform to the person in question's standards.

I remember one man who wanted to invest in one of my ventures yelling at a woman who served us the wrong beverage. It was an honest mistake. His reaction was clear enough to let me know I did not want to have this man as a partner.

How do they treat animals?
I know this sounds crazy.  You don't have to be an animal lover, but people who are cruel to animals are usually even more so to humans. Stay far away from them.

I did not hire someone who joked about shooting the neighbor's cat with a BB gun for fun.

How long do their personal and business relationships last?
 If the person you're considering partnering with does not have business relationships that are long term that's usually for a good reason: they have burned too many bridges and now you might be their next victim.

Check their friendship network. If the important people in their life are all brand new, that should be a red flag as well.

How do they talk about their previous relationships?
If someone quickly talks negatively about his former boss, girlfriend, or business partner, without much prodding, chances are you're the next in line after your deal goes sour.
We all have been around people who can blame every problem they face on someone else.

I often ask an open question, “so, what happened?” and listen intently for the reply.

Once I was offered a job because I never spoke despairingly about my former boss, even though we often disagreed. The man who offered me the job said, “I gave you several opportunities to talk negatively about your boss and you never did.”
 
What's important to them?
Someone's worldview matters. A lot.

If you are trying to align with someone whose priority, sensitivity, and belief system are divergent from yours, think twice about it. Well, I'd go even further to say, just don't do it.

At one point I had people working for me who had great skills, but whose worldviews were so different than mine that the longer we worked together, the more difficult our work environment became.

Walking alongside someone whose priorities and beliefs are opposite yours is not only difficult, but it could derail your life goals. You’ll find yourself compromising on things you shouldn’t and one day, you’ll look around and think, “how did I get so far from what I wanted?”
 

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