Always Trust Your Instincts
By Bernadette A. Moyer
The one thing that I do that makes me most-angry with myself is when I don’t trust my gut instincts. Sometimes I think women tend to be polite past the point of trusting in that inner voice. That inner voice that knows when to protect us and that knows when it is time to fight or to flee.
The following is a true story as told by Cindy (not her real name)
On December 1st of last year I was scheduled for a phone interview for a position with a charity that is doing good work, they are housing the homeless.
At this stage of my career I am interesting in using my time and talents for worthy causes. I want to throw my time and talents toward worthy meaningful work.
After the initial hour phone interview with the human resources person I was scheduled for a full in person interview on December 17th. I arrived 10-15 minutes early and was asked to have a seat in the lobby. In the lobby I noticed how sloppy, overstuffed and smelly the area was and I also noticed scotch-taped signs that were hanging on the walls. The one sign that most caught my attention was the one that read “perfume free zone” and went on to say that some people are sensitive to scent. I thought wow I worked in many places and most were run by a really progressive team and they didn’t do that? Neither has any other place that I ever worked, but okay.
My appointment was for 8:30 in the morning and after the clock struck 8:50 I gathered my brief case all my papers and my jacket and I was about to leave. The place was dirty, cluttered and smelly and now they were more than 20 minutes late. Everything inside of me was saying; get out now!
As I had my hand on the door and was ready to leave they called for me to come in for the interview. It was a panel interview with five board members and the current director. She made it clear that she would be staying on for the transition period up to six months. She also moved away from me at the meeting table declaring that she was “sensitive to my cologne.” She was the one that the signs were posted about in the lobby.
Her office was in the trailer in the parking lot and not the dirty, smelly office space that the rest of the staff was using. All I could think about was all the many interviews that I had conducted through the years, how being on time meant something to me and if by chance I was running late my assistant was instructed to make the interviewee comfortable and offer water, or coffee and let them know that I was running late. I would bet that 99% of the time I was on time. I always had respect for the people that came to interview. My standard operating procedure was not only to introduce myself but to hand over my business card, this team didn’t.
I left there with mixed feelings, from the outside property to the inside offices it looked like the housing projects that no one really took any pride in, there were tell-tale signs everywhere. Something inside me said, “stop this isn’t the right fit for you.”
Later I was surprised when I was called back the next week for another panel interview. They had mentioned that someone was expected to be there before but hadn’t shown up.
Once again, don’t ask me why but I agreed to meet with them in the new year on January 7th and it was another panel interview. In my gut it still didn’t feel right to me. My sense was that the director was not going anywhere and that this was some type of smoke screen. I was given little information and then asked how I would proceed and what my vision would be and yet I had no back story except for the word on the street. I also suspected that there was a reason I was not getting the total picture like the director was hiding something, I had nothing concrete but a gut feeling.
Driving away from that second interview I wasn’t sure if I would be a contender for the position. I was really sick with a head cold and not at my best. It was communicated to me the next step would be to meet with the donors before any decision to hire would be made, again this was odd to me but what the director said would happen. She was the one running the show, running the interviews and looking or so she said for her replacement. My gut said otherwise.
Two days later I was surprised to hear from my references that they had been called. So I was sure that an offer of employment would be forth coming and yet nothing … not a word. So after two weeks I e-mailed the initial contact who conducted the phone interview. I e-mailed her asking if anything else was required from my end. No response? Not even a courtesy response.
The entire process my gut said this is not right, something here just does not add up. Now the position is again being advertised and being handled by another human resources professional. Clearly there are problems there. Bottom line for me I should have listened to my gut, something wasn’t right and I knew it yet I stayed engaged. I am only upset with myself.
This story is true and rang true for me and many others, how many times do we ignore our gut feelings and later come to the conclusion why didn’t I just stop myself and listen to my gut feelings? So often we could save ourselves a lot of grief if we just take heart to what our inner core is telling us to do?
“Trust instinct to the end, even though you can give no reason.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
I can’t tell you how many times I stayed in something whether it was a meeting, or a relationship or a situation and stayed out of politeness when I knew full well my gut was saying, “this is not right for you!” And later felt really bad because I should have been more honest sooner and just excused myself. We live and we learn!
Always trust your instincts …
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