Behavioral Psychology


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There are certain types of people who attempt to hide their malicious intentions under a veneer of friendliness. Their seemingly genuine interest and innocuous questions are in fact designed to humiliate, exclude, and to help them feel superior to you. All of this occurs under the guise of open body language, smiles, and friendly interactions.It can be hard to see through this trick, and even harder to know what to do to protect yourself. Probably the best thing you can do is to trust your gut instead of letting yourself be swayed by what your eyes and ears are telling you. If you constantly find yourself feeling defensive, compelled to explain behavior even though it didn’t seem worthy of any special consideration, it’s a pretty good warning sign.This person is not asking you questions out of genuine interest or to get to the truth of a situation, but instead to confirm a preexisting narrative. In other words, they have already made up their mind about you and just want to put you in an uncomfortable situation to confirm what they believe. By making you explain yourself they get many more data points to work with in order to further construct their narrative. And they get to feel superior, much like interrogators who are immune from having to justify any of their own behavior.

The solution is to not give these people what they want, limiting your answers to the bare minimum. This can be hard to do, especially because supposed friendliness, open body language, and interest compels us to open up and share a lot of information about ourselves. You just have to remember that the narratives we construct are usually based on very few data points amongst many. We ignore the ones we don’t need and take the ones we want to fit these narratives. When you open yourself up to a person whose agenda is malicious, they will find the data points they are looking for, twisting what you say and do for their own devices.

Obviously we can’t live our lives closed off to the world, but if the balance of an acquaintance with someone feels draining, where you constantly feel the need to justify yourself and you feel put down more than raised up in spite of apparent friendliness, why would you waste your precious psychic energy on them? Better to just recognize intentions for what they are and manage the situation accordingly.