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Friday, December 14 , 2018, 11:11 pm | Fair 50º


Paul Burri: Being Fooled Not a Good Feeling

Sometimes my radar for phonies malfunctions

I’m sure that I’m not alone in having been deceived by someone I trusted. It sure is a lousy feeling when that happens.

If you’re like me, you’re not sure who to be angry at — yourself for being too trusting or the other person for violating your trust. Fortunately, it hasn’t happened to me that often.

I don’t know, perhaps I have learned to develop a “gut feel” for people. There are some people to whom I am immediately attracted because I can somehow feel their sincerity and their total lack of pomposity and phoniness. Other people seem to exude a feeling of unbelievability that makes me uncomfortable almost from the moment I meet them. I avoid those people as much as I can. If I can’t avoid them, I give them as much “room” as the situation allows. And I certainly don’t trust them with anything important, whether it be money, personal confidence or my car keys.

But my system is not infallible, and I sometimes get taken in when my “sensitivity antennae” malfunction. That’s when I am forced to remember the old adage, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” I don’t think that needs an explanation.

In spite of the risk of being taken in by phonies, it still happens to me more often than I’d like. That’s because I always want to provide everyone that I meet with a “tabula rasa,” or blank slate. This is the slate that their history will be recorded on and that I can read to reflect my dealings with them. So we start out with a blank slate and slowly, over time, the slate gets written on. Eventually, together we write your slate; you supplying the information and me recording it.

If it starts to fill up with negative records, I need to decide whether I want to continue recording anymore. Perhaps not. Perhaps I have enough history to decide that any further recording will be a waste of time, and worse yet, be only a forewarning of even worse things to come.

The record doesn’t have to be one that has a lot of overtly bad things the person has done to me. It could be something as simple as a listing of times when the person has simply let me down by not showing up for an appointment, failed to keep a promise, not told the whole truth about a situation or has been the type of person who is so self-centered that he only wants to talk about what is happening to him.

Now let me tell you everything that’s been happening to me lately …

— Paul Burri is an entrepreneur, inventor, columnist, engineer and iconoclast. He is not in the advertising business, but he is a small-business counselor with the Santa Barbara chapter of Counselors to America’s Small Business-SCORE. The opinions and comments in this column are his alone and do not represent the opinions or policies of any outside organization. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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