When an Agreeable Chameleon Turns on You – Kindness Gone Wrong

I once had a supervisor who had a very outgoing, super friendly, and outwardly kind demeanor. But she could and would turn on you in an instant. I was taken in initially by her outward appearance. I saw the kindness at its face value – as genuine and true kindness. But there were four or five instances where her demeanor took a 180 degree turn from kindness to nasty in a split second. It wasn’t long before I realized her true character.

I began to question whether what I was seeing 99% of the time was genuine as it appeared. I’d never taken the time to look past the surface, to evaluate the true motivation. I was so willing to accept what appeared on the outer level of our communication. This does not just apply to me. We all tend to want the interaction we share with people in our lives to be friendly and mutually beneficial. We especially crave it when we are not on the same positional level with that person. Falling prey to someone with more power than ourselves and the resulting manipulation could be devastating to our lives.

If we arm ourselves with knowledge, we can begin to build a solid defense.

Listen to Your Gut

Too often we ignore that internal sense that something is not right. That tingling in your gut, hairs that stand up on the back of your neck, mood shifts in that person’s presence. If you sense that warning within, don’t push it aside. Allow it to speak to you. What is it trying to say? If it is telling you someone is not being authentic, look a little closer, pay more attention to the nuances in their voice, their manner, and their speech.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Understand all the Reasons Someone May Be Outwardly Friendly

We hope that friendly is just that – friendly. The person you are interacting with likes and respects you and you like and respect them. But there are other unfriendly reasons someone may have to want to fake kindness.

  • Insecurity – that person is not confident in themselves and chooses friendliness as a superficial way to hide it
  • Appearances – that person wants to be known as a kind and good person
  • Control – that person uses kindness as a confrontational style
  • Manipulation – that person thinks they can get you to do what they want by being kind to you
  • Validation – that person likes the attention that an outgoing, overly friendly demeanor gives them

Tread with Caution

If you find yourself in a situation where someone consistently fakes friendliness and you discover a destructive purpose in their use of fake friendliness, keep your distance. If that is not possible, if you are forced to deal with someone like this, tread cautiously. Don’t take their behavior personally, but don’t fall into their trap either. Awareness keeps you informed. Be assertive when required and keep your own behavior genuine.

I am a great advocate of genuine kindness. But the key here is genuine. There is a quote, whose origin is unknown, that states “Honesty without kindness is brutality and kindness without honesty is manipulation. If we keep authentic kindness as our guide, we can navigate any phoniness that comes our way.

Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson

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