If you’ve ever wondered how to not be gullible and naive: this article is for you.
Have others laughed at you because you are too naive? Have you ever fallen victim to an email scam or signed up for a dodgy service because you were too polite to refuse? Do you tend to believe what others say?
If so, you need to focus on not being so trusting all the time.
While being trustworthy is a positive trait, you don’t want to put your faith in the wrong people and find yourself in a dangerous situation. If you want to become less trusting, you should focus on being a more critical thinker and questioning the sources of your knowledge.
How To Not Be Gullible And Naive:
1. Take your time when making important decisions.
Making an important choice on the spur of the moment can have unintended repercussions that you may later regret. Some people, such as an estate agent, potential employer or lover, use this tactic to encourage others to make a commitment without fully understanding the consequences. A hasty choice is often a hasty decision.
You shouldn’t base your choice solely on one person’s opinion because you could make a mistake. If you are indecisive, someone with a vested interest may use your indecision against you.
What are you waiting for?
They will tell you that this is the right time. But if the person is fearful or dismissive of getting a second opinion, doing research, or otherwise evaluating your choices, that’s a red flag.
FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) should be avoided at all costs. FOMO can refer to the fear of missing out on a once in a lifetime opportunity if you don’t act immediately. This is most likely not the case.
Keep in mind that people who try to force you to make a decision, rather than giving you enough time to make an informed decision, usually do so because they don’t want you to do any outside research or check their bluff.
2. Increase your scepticism.
While you don’t want to be completely suspicious just to avoid becoming gullible, if you tend to be overconfident, you should try to be more cautious in your approach to a given scenario.
Whether an older brother is telling you a story about your next-door neighbour or a telemarketer is trying to sell you a cell phone plan, you should remain vigilant and ask yourself and the person you are with questions about whether the information is true.
Of course, this may make you more uncomfortable in some social situations than if you were nice and agreed with everything the person says, but it will help you avoid being deceived.
Ask yourself how much you can trust the source, how likely it is to be accurate, and what counter-arguments someone could make to the contrary each time you receive new information.
3. Give them a chance to earn your trust.
You don’t have to be completely suspicious just to avoid being gullible; but if you really want to avoid being stupid, you can’t believe everyone who comes your way. Whether you’re meeting a work colleague or dating someone new, get to know them first and build a relationship with them.
Getting people to prove their worth to you, rather than taking their word for it, is a hallmark of critical thinking.
To find out what the other person’s goals are, try to see things from their point of view. Consider the following questions: Why are they in such a hurry to make a commitment? What can they gain by doing so? What is my level of familiarity with them?
Gullible people are more likely to believe anyone who offers them knowledge, especially if that person appears to be older and wiser. However, don’t be fooled by someone’s age or authority and believe something that isn’t true. Remember that everyone, regardless of age, has to prove their worth to you first.
If you are too trusting and immediate, people are more likely to take advantage of you and mislead you into doing something that is not in your favour.
4. Do not make hasty decisions.
If you don’t want to fall for a scam, don’t jump to conclusions before you have all the information.
Don’t trust your best friend who says your instructor should be fired because he missed a day of class. Don’t think that just because your boss has been particularly nice to you this week, it means you’ll get a promotion soon.
Before you jump to any quick conclusions, make sure you have enough time to gather all the information you need.
People who are gullible don’t always want to make the effort to determine whether something is true or not. However, if you want to avoid falling into a trap, this is what you should do.
5. Be wary of anything that sounds too great to be true.
The truth is, if something sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is.
Whether the Prince Charming type you’ve just met is trying to sweep you off your feet or your mate is persuading you to invest in a company that is ‘guaranteed’ to make you rich, you should always be wary of walking into a scenario that seems to promise to solve all your problems.
If you think you’ve stumbled upon the most perfect opportunity in the world, chances are there’s a catch.
“There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” as the saying goes. If you get a fantastic opportunity, you will almost certainly have to do something in return. No one wants to give you money, a fantastic gift or a piece of property without expecting anything in return.
Think about how this opportunity will help the other person. What would be the motivation if someone offered you a gift certificate? Is it true that the person is doing it out of the goodness of their heart?
6. Recognise that being gullible has some evolutionary benefits.
While working to be less gullible is commendable, you should be aware that being gullible is not always a negative thing.
As young people, being naïve allows us to survive. It is naivety that makes us believe our parents when they warn us not to leave the house because there are scary people outside, or that we should not walk in the woods because there are monsters prowling.
To some extent, this way of thinking keeps you alive.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be gullible, but it also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be angry at yourself for being stupid. Your naivety has certainly helped you in more ways than you realise.
7. Don’t believe that anecdotal evidence is always reliable.
People who are gullible are prone to believe that one story about a certain event is indicative of a wider reality.
Don’t jump to conclusions based on one story; instead, hone your critical thinking skills by learning as much as you can about a case before making a decision.
While stories can help you better understand a situation and present statistics and major issues from a more personal perspective, they cannot be your only source of information.
8. Assess the credibility of the source.
Gaining as much knowledge as possible about a situation can help you become less trusting. One way to do this is to think about the credibility of the information source you are using (1).
If you read a news headline or talk to a well-known person, consider whether the source is peer-reviewed or respected, or whether the person has deceived you before. You can’t trust everything you hear or read online.
If you read news on the internet, check where it comes from. Find out how long the journal or magazine has been running, who contributes to it and whether it is an academic or reputable source.
Check whether the source is an expert on the topic. Consider the possibility that your relative may not know what they are talking about if they are trying to advise you on what car to buy but don’t even have a driving licence.
9. Read the evidence.
If you are going to trust something or make a choice, make sure you have done your homework and found enough evidence to support it.
Don’t trust anything just because a buddy told you it’s true; instead, take the time to study the issue on reputable websites, check it out from your local library, or talk to professionals in the field to see if it’s accurate.
People who are gullible are also often lazy, believing that it is easier to simply accept what they are told than to do their own investigation.
10. Recognise that you are not an expert on everything.
Another approach to becoming less gullible is to accept the reality that you, like everyone else in the world, still have a lot to learn. If you act as if you know everything and accept everything you’ve been taught or read, you’ll continue to live a life where you don’t question your views.
It’s humbling to admit that you’re not an expert on everything. It’s the first step to becoming a more critical thinker and realizing that arguments are often more complex than they appear or are given credit for.
While you should admit that you don’t know everything, you don’t have to be eager to share that knowledge with others.
11. Continue reading.
People who seek knowledge are always reading and learning new things. They don’t get all their news from the same place and they don’t just read novels by the same three writers.
They are constantly looking for fresh information. They are never satisfied because they know that there is more to life than meets the eye, and they are always looking for it.
Carve out some time every day or at least once a week to read. You can be methodical and resolve to learn all about geology or contemporary poetry, or you can just read whatever interests you that week.
The most important thing is that you acquire a thirst for knowledge and continue to inquire about the world around you.
People will be less likely to try to trick you or convince you to fall into a trap if they know you are intelligent and well-read.
12. Don’t be afraid to ask.
One thing you can do to become less gullible is to ask as many questions as you need to in order to properly understand the situation.
Whether you’re thinking about buying a new car or house, or your older sister is instructing you on how to bleach your hair, it’s important to gather as much information as possible before you make a choice or agree to see things in a certain light.
Many people hesitate to ask questions because they don’t want to admit they don’t know anything, but asking questions is the best way to avoid being gullible and falling for a scam (2).
13. Get a second opinion.
If you want to think critically and analyse issues fully, don’t get all your knowledge and opinions from one source.
Sure, your relative or buddy could almost convince you of the best way to make an apple pie or mow the lawn, but it’s better to seek the opinion of someone else or look up an issue or advice online.
If you hear a “fact” from one person, you are much more likely to be deceived than if you ask multiple people for their opinion.
The same can be said for reading the news. If you get all your news from one source, your thinking will be skewed. To avoid falling for any trickery or believing something that is not completely true, read at least 2-3 news sources.
When it comes to asking questions, the internet can be a valuable source. You can get information from a wide range of people by using interactive forums.
14. It’s OK to say ‘no’ – it’s not about being ‘nice’.
People who are gullible are too nice or polite to simply say ‘no’.
People are trained not to hurt the emotions of others, and that expressing “no” forcefully is rude. People are also trained to trust in general and that expressing ‘no’ can be seen as a sign of mistrust.
However, saying no to anything you don’t want, especially from a salesperson or someone you don’t know, is entirely appropriate and polite.
People can exploit the desire to be seen as ‘polite’ by suggesting that the expression ‘no’ is rude or harsh. This is especially true for desperate men who are trying to get women to marry them.
It’s better to be cautious than to be fooled if something doesn’t seem right.
Of course, you don’t want to get paranoid, believing that every time someone speaks to you, they are trying to trick you. Still, it’s better to be safe than sorry if you’ve already been found gullible.
If someone is trying to sell you something, you should be especially careful about agreeing. Think about whether you really want the item and whether it seems like a good bargain, or whether you’re just afraid to say no because you feel bad for the person.
15. Don’t listen to rumours and gossip.
If you don’t want to get caught up in stories and rumours, you should stop believing them. Unless you get them from a reliable source, you can bet that rumours and gossip are spread by jealous, bored or spiteful people, and they are usually false.
Instead of believing a rumour straight away, make a habit of thinking of all the reasons why it is unlikely.
Think about it: if someone spread a story about you, you wouldn’t want everyone to believe it right away, would you? Work on being less trusting and thinking that most gossip is just gossip.
People may try to mislead you with completely false rumours, just to annoy you if you have a reputation for trusting everything you hear.
16. Be wary of anyone who has tricked you.
Whether you’ve been tricked before by an older brother, an annoying pal or a funny neighbour, approach situations where that person passes on extra ‘knowledge’ to you with caution.
Even if it is done in good faith, you should be aware that this person will almost certainly try to tease you again in the future.
If someone really enjoys teasing you, they will most likely do it in front of an audience, so be especially wary if your older brother has invited five of his closest buddies over and is trying to tell you something with a big smile on his face.
It’s important to remember that it takes time to regain trust. If someone has previously deceived you, you should not immediately trust them again.
If someone is clearly trying to get you to believe something ridiculous, just roll your eyes and say: “Ha-ha, very funny” to show that you will not be fooled again.
17. Be wary of email scams.
Anyone who writes to you begging for money, claiming to be long-lost family, or telling you that you need to click on a link to complete a $50,000 wire transfer is hoping you’ll be foolish enough to fall for it.
If you find something similar in your spam folder, delete it immediately and don’t be fooled. Some people may try to convince you to give them money by telling scary stories about themselves, but you can’t be so gullible as to fall for such email scams.
If you receive emails about financial prizes you have won in competitions you have not entered, delete them immediately. Everyone would like to think that there is a large sum of unclaimed money with their name on it, but we are rarely so lucky.
18. Master the art of saying no to salespeople.
Another way naïve people get scammed is by talking to salespeople, whether the salesperson called their home or approached them at the mall.
You must learn to be polite but firm, thank the person but not express interest, and avoid signing up for email lists or revealing personal information such as an email address or phone number. Act as if you have a lot on your plate and don’t have time to listen, and avoid being easily misled.
Although retailers are not trying to trick you or scam you out of money, you are much more likely to be scammed if you are fully open to listening and allow them to talk to you about goods you don’t want.
19. Gain the ability to interpret a person’s facial expressions.
If you pay attention to a person’s face and body language, you can tell if they are trying to deceive you. If a person is gently grinning, looking away or even saying something with a little too much enthusiasm, they may be deceiving you.
If the person seems serious, but when they look away you think they are trying not to laugh, you are probably being deceived. If the person who is telling you something can’t look you in the eye, you may not be getting the whole truth.
Another way to determine if a person is lying is to listen to how confident their voice sounds. When they are trying to say something that is obviously untrue, less skilled deceivers may stutter or utter “uh” and “um” frequently.
When you ask a question, watch how the person responds. If they are lying to you, they will be more likely to look frightened or surprised.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read my article about how to not be gullible and naive. I sincerely hope its contents have been a good help to you.