“All That Glitters Is Not Gold.”

I remember reading those words of Tolkien so many years ago. As a person who loves sparkly, glittery things, the words attracted me and their depth had a large impact on my outlook. However with time, pondering on those words became an education in itself.

As a very trusting person with strong integrity, I’ve fallen victim to believing others mean what they say, just as I do. It’s a hard lesson to learn when you realize that the opposite can be true at times. People don’t always mean what they say. And unfortunately, sometimes they say things just to get you to do what they want you to. In fact it is often referred to as manipulation.

When I started working with “Colors” and behavioral styles years ago, people would sometimes say, “Isn’t that manipulation?” And my answer was always, “It depends on what your goal is.” If your goal is to help the individual you’re talking to and have their best interest and success as your focus, it most certainly is not manipulation.

However there are times when we may feel that we are being or have been manipulated. What can you do?

Give the benefit of the doubt. I will always believe the good until I’ve been proven otherwise. We all have bad days, or at times we may react or say the wrong thing. Or perhaps our body language said something we didn’t intend. Things are not always as they seem. I appreciate when I receive the benefit of the doubt and so I give it to others freely.

Ask for clarity. In conversation we often will ask for clarification of something the person has said. It is perfectly acceptable to say, “Do you mean…” Or “What I’m hearing is… “ Or even, “So if I’m understanding you correctly what you’re saying is…” Be sure you’re on the same page and that you are speaking the same language.

Walk away if it still doesn’t feel right. Integrity goes both ways. We apply it to ourselves in that we use it as a guide to measure things that we are considering doing. Does it align with your personal values and standards?

But it also goes the other direction and we apply it to others. Meaning, when an individual treats us in a way that does not align with our standards, we walk away from the situation. We protect ourselves from being manipulated.

Take the high road. If you’ve walked away, then do it with your head held high. There is rarely reason to speak poorly of the person you feel was trying to take advantage of you… unless you see them doing it to others as well. Your personal integrity may issue a word of caution to help them.

We all have a personal code of ethics. Some write it out, others keep it mentally. What are your standards? What do your words and actions say to others? Are you coming from a place of thinking of others success, or just your own?

Remember things are not always the way they seem. However if you are solid in your own integrity and honor others with your words and actions, even those you don’t care much for, your integrity will be apparent and you will be able to help others to a greater degree than you’ve ever thought possible.