A creep is hard to define. If someone is described as creepy, we all have an image of what that means—even if it means different things to different people—because our subconscious is working overtime to protect us from responding in a way that’s not in our best interests.
The secret to a successful FBI case is to develop humint, or human intelligence sources about the target of the investigation. As an agent investigating bank robberies in Phoenix, I met the friends and colleagues—and I use these terms in the very loosest sense—of the criminals I was investigating.
I’d usually offer a little money, and depending on where payday hit in their version of a workweek, I’d gather a little more information on which to build my case.
My creep alert instincts were finely honed in this fertile environment.
When I switched to working counterintelligence and espionage cases, the class of criminal morphed into a more sophisticated type.
Spies are not sent to the U.S. with a notice pinned to their forehead. Instead, they try to blend into society. This type of criminal is much farther up the creeper food-chain than common street criminals.
I worked in the Silicon Valley where foreign spies were primarily interested in stealing economic intelligence.
It’s much cheaper for a foreign government to steal technology than to invest money in R&D. So spies mingled with the ranks of high-tech companies and corporations.
The interesting thing is that my creep alert still left me with a nagging feeling in the back of my mind when I met certain people. Creeps don’t always smell—we need to rely on the gift of intuition to sniff them out.
Intuition is our Brain on Autopilot
Every thought is preceded by a perception. Stimulus and response do not happen at the same time. As Jimena Canales points out in her book, A Tenth of a Second, there is a lag between our perception of a person or situation and our reaction to it.
It is this lag time that create problems for us as we confront unexpected situations everyday.
Canales asserts that the lag can be reduced to a tenth of a second if we train ourselves to listen to our subconscious.
How can we train ourselves to listen? Intuition is our brain retrieving information from our subconscious. As that information bubbles into the forefront of our thinking, it starts with nagging feelings that we can’t quite put into words but can’t quite dismiss, either.
They leave us feeling that something isn’t quite right. We’re unable to put our perceptions into words at that moment because they’re still working through our subconscious.
Have any of you met someone who gave you the creeps?
If so, pay attention! Your intuition may be trying to tell you something important.
- Watch for use of the word “we” by a stranger that implies that you and they are a team. Only Queen Elizabeth can get away with the royal “we.”
- Beware of someone who stretches out the word Noooooooooo.
- Watch out when charm becomes a verb. A person who is trying to charm you as opposed to a person is charming.
- Notice the face – it’s the most revealing part of the body. A smile is the most disarming part of the face.
- Be wary of a stranger who is too nice. Nice is not a character trait – it’s a choice.
- Be careful of someone who offers too many details. Honest people don’t feel the need to justify their statements.
- Look out when someone offers too many favors with nothing in return – at least, not at first.
- Watch out when someone uses the phrase “I promise.”
Pay attention to those nagging feelings that are trying to warn you that something isn’t right. It will make you a better leader and a better judge of character.
What has been hepful to you in noticing deceptive behavior?
This blog first appeared on September 28th, 2010 in Linked2Leadership.
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