For me, the word “scam” always drums up an image of a balding, pushy, used-car salesman. You know the type. He uses phrases like “deal of a lifetime!” and “I shouldn’t be doing this, but just this once …” You’re totally psyched, you did it! You wore him down! Only to sign the papers, drive the car off of the lot, and realize you’ve been hopelessly outdone. Bamboozled. You were effectively swept up in a manipulating moment and now you’re stuck with the short straw.
Sure, it’s a good learning experience. You’ll be more on your toes the next time. But what if I told you that you don’t have to experience a scam to learn how to avoid it?
To be clear, when I use the word “scam” I’m not only referring to dollar-stealing schemes. No. I also means those social settings where you inadvertently or overtly are being taken advantage of. Those situations that seem too good to be true, which are often accompanied by a nagging feeling in your gut. You find yourself shouting “yes!” then wind up in a whirlwind wondering, “how on earth did I get myself in this situation?”
Every person with every personality type encounters scams and can find some advice here. However, I’m dedicating this one to those extraverted, forward-thinking feelers who, like me, are more prone to being swept up in a scam.
First off, let’s take a step back and answer the question: why are ENF’s so trusting?
The All-Powerful Pull of Connection
Well, the obvious answer is that Extraverts are all about connection! Nothing fuels you like striking up a friendly conversation. Some people understand this powerful principle of connection and use it to their advantage.
My little brother once fell prey to such a plot. He was dutifully on the clock and washing a car outside when he was approached by a woman selling cologne. Jack, an ENFP with no sense of smell, doesn’t use cologne. Yet he ended up buying not one but TWO boxes of the smelly liquid after he was unable to extract himself from conversation. He heard her life story, felt sorry for her hard times, and it was done. Whether or not this was intentional on her part, Jack was unable to turn the woman away after forming a small connection.
A different angle: ENFX’s often find themselves struggling to say “no”, much like Jack in the above example. That’s common! It’s also fixable. A different approach means setting your boundaries. Know your limits, whether they’re financial, emotional, time-related, etc. It’s a kindness to yourself and your family to enforce those boundaries. Now, when you’re faced with a situation where you need to turn someone down, it’s for a solid reason that’s harder to talk yourself out of. Good luck, cadet!
The NF Factor
Another layer to the trusting nature of ENFX’s is that forward-thinking, future-oriented quality. NFs can be so focused on what possibilities are available to them that they fail to catch those immediate and important details that could tip them off to a possible scam scenario.
I see this most with online classes and business opportunities. It can be alluring to picture yourself as an uber-successful make-up artist, if only you “sign up now for this limited offer”— painted as the only opportunity you’ll ever have to learn what you need to know. There’s a “do or die” feeling to these experiences that goes beyond good copywriting. In this case, you sign up for the class, full of determination and motivation. You drink in all the information, only to find most of the content is fluff and this was all leading you to an even *bigger* sell with a higher monetary investment.
Picturing yourself at the end goal is essential in deciding what path to take, but NF’s can get caught up in the end result and lose track of exactly what investment of time or money they are actually signing up for. They lose sight of the details.
A different angle: But HOW do you tell those good opportunities from the fluffed-up ones? A good rule of thumb comes from good ‘ol Nana’s advice for building relationships: take it slow. Does the course provider offer any free content? Do they have a site you can explore—or even better!—is there a way to contact them directly? Do your research and your gut will do the rest.
A Little Validation
Being an Extravert driven by connection, or possessing that Intuitive trait of focusing on the future are not bad qualities to have. Trusting easily is not a curse. (Go ahead, read that again. I’ll wait.)
Being forward-thinking provides you with the unique capability to dream down several different paths before you choose a course of action. That unique NF quality is key to understanding multiple points of view. And there are many, many positive implications of being able to easily form warm associations with others.
Yet, as with any strength, these qualities can make you more susceptible to a social or monetary scam. Here are a few tips to give you with some balance.
1. Confide in someone with opposite personality traits.
I have a sister-in-law who is an ESTJ. I know she has my best interests at heart and our friendship is such that she can tell me—bluntly— when I’m off course. Thankfully, she also helps me dream up solutions for the ideas she shoots down.
Sammy, the sister-in-law, was the first person outside of my marriage I talked to my writing ambitions. I still air out different opportunities with her, especially when a financial investment is involved. She looks at the details I miss and often helps me integrate my broad-idea dream into my real-life schedule. In my opinion, everyone needs a Sammy.
2. Channel Your inner [fill in the blank]
But, not everyone has a Sammy. Don’t have someone to balance you out? In a tight spot where you can’t reach your Sammy? Picture someone you know or have seen portrayed with your opposite personality type. Close your eyes and channel that person!
This has been especially helpful for me when selling items second-hand. In person, I can come off as excessively sweet and perhaps a bit jumbled, which means I often get buyers trying to haggle a lower price at the last minute. This was really difficult for me to deal with after talking and connecting with a buyer, as I always do. That is, until I started channeling my inner Nate. Nate is a brother of mine who was in the military for a long time. He’s quiet, straightforward and rock solid. Negotiating has been much easier after I started taking after him!
3. Sit on it for a night.
No major decision needs to be made in the moment. In fact, that’s one tactic a scammer will use to pressure you into a decision! As an ENFX (bonus points if you’re a P!) seizing the day is what fuels our ever-spontaneous fire. As much as it may pain you, pump the breaks and sleep on it. You’ll find clarity in waiting and letting your brain sort through the details as you rest.
If an offer has a time limit, I always pass the first time around. If it really is quality content, it will come back around. I did this a couple of years ago with a writing class I badly wanted to take! I did my research and replied to the nurturing emails I received to interact with the woman in charge. When it came time to “sign up in the next week before the window closes” —I didn’t. I reigned in my enthusiasm and let the time frame pass. I continued to follow the posts and emails about the content for the next few months. When another window opened up for students, I felt even better about signing up! It was totally worth the wait to make sure I wasn’t tossing my money at something shiny.
Not every scam is created equal, nor is this meant to scare you out of ever enjoying an interaction. However, it is prudent to have a few of these skills in your back pocket for that chance encounter.
What other tactics have you tested and tried? Share your knowledge in a comment below!