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Few weeks ago, I was in LA. Being an East Coast girl and by nature, I’m just sincere. What I say is what I mean and what I mean I often say. But I would soon realize for most of the people I encountered, their words were just that words. They didn’t have any roots in sincerity or authenticity. They were merely words to fulfill an agenda or validate their fleeting sense of accomplishments. They will tell you anything that would directly benefit them and their agenda, however big, small or unnecessary. Fast forward to about two weeks ago on the East Coast. I’m having a conversation with someone. Of course I am genuine, sincere because it’s the only way that comes natural to me and the only way I can remember to be. But anyway, this woman is talking to me knowing that she doesn’t mean anything she’s saying, which I didn’t recognize at the time, but when I’m in the moment with people, I’m in the moment. I will take you at your word until your actions teach me differently. So she’s talking to me like she’s totally feeling what I’m saying. Then two weeks later, it’s as if that conversation never happened. *insert blank stare.*

So it doesn’t matter what coast you’re on, human nature tends to be at many times full of hot air. Some folks are just skilled at bull shitting. One minute they know how to make you feel like the center of the universe; next minute it’s as if you’ve never existed. A friend of mine was dating this guy and he would tell her regularly and often how much he was into her and how much he loved her. Yes, he used the L word. That word was like his magic wand. He used it often to get her to a place where she was into him, devoted to him and trusted him, even when his words didn’t reflect his level of commitment. But he had a way of just pulling her in by using every trigger word he could to get her to love him more than herself. It’s as if he’d studied her. He knew how to make her park her common sense and ride into insanity with him.

How about a boss who kept promising another friend of mine that she’d get a raise she had been overdue and promised. Every time her boss would sense perhaps my friend was thinking about taking her talents elsewhere, she’d throw her a mental bone, whether it be a random compliment in a meeting, giving her a big client or performance bonus. You may say well that’s nice, but it was more mind manipulation than nice. My friend’s boss would give her just enough assurance to keep my friend where she wanted her instead of where my friend wanted and believed her skill level demand.

Let’s face it, there are people who are just good at bs-ing. They’re brilliant at finding the words to make us feel the way they want and to do what they want. The following are five ways to recognize when you’re being played and how not to become a ploy in someone’s mind games.

1. Their words and actions don’t know each other

They say one thing to you and act totally different towards you. Like purple and green, their words and actions don’t match. Stop believing what they’re saying to you and believing their actions. Their behavior is who they really are. Their words are who they want you to think they are. Believe your eyes, not their lips.

2. Your best interest is never their interest

They are very self-serving. Everything they say and do only and always benefits them, their motives, agendas and egos. No matter what they tell you, they don’t care about you. They only care what you can do for them. They are only loyal to themselves, not you or the greater good. Don’t trust their promises. To promote themselves and their own interests, they will buy a bus and throw you under it in a second. Whatever your dealings are with them, make sure your motives are right before God and your conscious. Don’t do anything out of loyalty to them because mind manipulators ain’t loyal.

3. They’re addicted to being liked

They want to be accepted and liked at all cost. This is not a cute attribute. Matter of fact, it’s dangerous. So if you’re popular, they’re riding with you, not out of love but out of necessity and commitment to their own need for the spotlight and attention. If everyone likes you, they will too, until liking you is no longer convenient or self-serving. Don’t believe their hype of how great and cool you because the minute its’ no longer profitable to be cool with you, they will drop you. They’re just in it to be liked and be seen. Popularity, attention and fame are their drugs of choice. They are users. Don’t let them use you.

4. They believe what they say when they’re saying it

In their minds, it’s always lying season. They do believe what they’re saying when they’re saying it. That’s what makes them dangerous. They’ve mastered lying to themselves; so lying to you is easy, second nature. For you, their actions is what you must pay attention to and believe, not their worlds.

5. Don’t let them change you

People who prey on others are mind manipulators. They’re always trying to draw you out of your true self, that way you behave in the way they’d like you to. They want you just as petty as they are. They want you unhappy, void of joy and focus. They’re miserable and want company. Don’t accompany misery. Don’t allow them to make you develop trust issues and anxiety. Deal honorably with everyone even if certain people don’t behave honorably. How we respond to others says more about us than it does them. Don’t let their shady ways dim your light. Shine on.