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Commentary: Never be fooled or lied to

There is an expression that originated in Italy several centuries ago that goes "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

Having been fooled a time or two, or three, I couldn't pass up the little book I saw in a bookstore lately with the catchy title, You Can Read Anyone and promised, "Never be fooled, lied to or taken advantage of again." I couldn't resist at the bargain price of $7.98. I wasn't preparing for any upcoming dramatic event, but I thought I'd learn some clever trick I could report in an article to you. Here is my report.

As I read the book, I learned all about how to be suspicious, skeptical, doubtful, and untrusting. I learned techniques for determining if a co-worker is keeping anything from me. I learned how to determine if somebody I'm meeting or doing business with has a favorable or unfavorable impression of me or my ideas. I learned how to sort out if somebody is about to slam the door and walk away or is just bluffing. Now I know how to figure out if a poker player is truly confident or just putting up a good front. Now I can tell if my friend's girlfriend is a keeper or on the way out or if a date really likes me or not. Is my prospect truly interested in the product I'm selling or am I just wasting my time? Is my partner out to get me?

Now I know how to make sure I don't get fooled or taken by my date, girlfriend, wife, kids, co-workers, friends, relatives, salesmen or even mentally ill people. And, now I know the five most common mistakes when evaluating a person's level of self-esteem and what the difference is between a person who likes himself (self-esteem) and a person who is simply full of himself (big ego).

How do I do all that? By listening very carefully, thinking, asking clever questions, setting traps, and watching body language.

On the subject of body language, it is an old belief that if someone has their arms crossed in front of their chest while you're talking, they don't agree with what you're saying. One trial lawyer reports that throughout his final argument, the foreman of the jury had his arms crossed. But the lawyer was surprised when he won his case and the foreman voted for his client. After the trial, he asked the foreman about his crossed arms. The foreman reported that he kept his arms folded because he has a big stomach and that it was comfortable to rest his arms there. So much for reading body language.

The book made me feel like a person who didn't trust anybody and spent his thinking time worrying about being taken so that he was always looking over his shoulder and expecting a double cross.

Is that any way to live? I told you I've been fooled a time a two or three. Well, shame on me. But I'd rather work on building a healthy trust and showing and telling people that I trust them and being disappointed occasionally then having no trust and living a life of suspicions, careful cross-examinations and trick questions in order to never be fooled. No thanks.

As a matter of fact, the book fooled me and took advantage of me. I want my $7.98 back.