I was on the phone recently with a client. He was considering buying a used car from a private seller, someone he did not know prior to responding to an online advertisement.
My client, whom I will call Mark, was skeptical of the seller, doubting his honesty about the condition of the car for sale. Mark said, “I gave him a list of car parts, and asked if he’d share with me the last time he serviced those parts on the car. I also told him I’d be bringing my mechanic along for the test drive, to inspect the car for me.” Mark was doing his due diligence in ensuring the car was in fair condition before purchasing it.
Mark called me, feeling conflicted. He perceived the man’s communication became terse. He read to me some text messages from the seller, looking for my perception about the man’s character based on the chain of text message communication going back and forth between them. Mark felt stuck – unsure of whether to buy the car, confused. He said to me, “I don’t think this guy is being honest. But, then again, in some text messages, he seems nice, accommodating and forthcoming. Is he trying to screw me? I love the car though, so do I just buy it? Maybe he just doesn’t communicate well, and maybe he is being honest. I don’t want to lose this car if I am wrong about this guy. I can’t get a read on him!”
I reminded Mark that he was asking the wrong question.
The question to ask was not, “Is this person trying to deceive me?”
The question to ask was, “Is this experience meeting my needs?”
Upon reflection, Mark realized that in order to feel good about his purchase, he would need to either get reliable answers to his questions about the car’s parts and maintenance history, or get the car at a lower price if his questions could not get answered by the seller. All of this we could determine independently, without the frustration of trying to solve whether or not the seller was untrustworthy.
You don’t have to try and figure out if someone is trying to hurt you, or deceive you, or plot against you. Need only know what you want from an experience, how you want it to feel. And if the experience is not meeting those requirements, leave it, and go create the experience you do want to have.
Knowing yourself (what you want and what you feel) brings simplicity into your world.