My friend was talking about a man who had stalked, restrained and physically attacked a woman we knew when she said, “But he’s basically a good guy.” Shocked, I clarified: “No, he’s a nice guy. Definitely not a good guy.”
A nice guy, or a good guy?
We both knew this person. He had been a guest in both of our homes. He was attractive, charming, likable and a great conversationalist, making him very pleasant company. However, beneath the surface, his niceness paled in comparison to his aggression, threatening behavior and willingness to put others at risk.
Yes, we all have bad days. We all have triggers that can cause us to behave unlike our better selves. But someone who deliberately intimidates, terrorizes or attacks another person? That’s not a good person.
There’s a big difference between being a nice person and a good person, and this is an important distinction. Sometimes, social pressures dictate that we soften our message by adding a disclaimer such as “but he’s a good guy,” “he tries hard,” or simply “bless his heart.” (Hat tip to all the Southern ladies…) When you hear these disclaimers leave your tongue, consider the reason behind your need to soften your words.
- Are you afraid of offending the person to whom you’re speaking about the individual or event? If so, why?
- Are you concerned that your harsh words might be repeated, or get back to the person of whom you’re speaking? Is this a social concern, or a concern for your own safety and wellbeing?
- Is softening your words a type of “trial balloon” to gauge the other person’s reaction to your thoughts? Remember, you have a right to think what you think and feel what you feel. No one else in the world has your exact experience and knowledge base, and these things constitute the seat of intuition, your greatest advocate!
Gavin de Becker wrote in his excellent book, The Gift of Fear: “Intuition is always learning, and though it may occasionally send a signal that turns out to be less than urgent, everything it communicates to you is meaningful. Unlike worry, it will not waste your time.” De Becker nails it…intuition always has your best interest at heart, so to speak, if you’ll only listen.
Perspective will give you the information you need to stay safe:
- How do you know the person?
- How well do you know the person?
- How long have you known the person?
- In what situation did you meet/interact with the person?
- And the bottom line: why do you feel the way you do?
Author Bob Samples wrote, “Albert Einstein once spoke of intuition as a sacred gift and likened rationality to a faithful servant. Our basic purpose was to shift the tendency to worship the servant and ignore the sacred.”
Trust your intuition, don’t rationalize actual danger signals, and take action to keep yourself out of harm’s way.