Even Oprah used to sit by the phone waiting for a guy to call.
She’d stay off the phone in case he tried and got a busy signal. She wouldn’t go out to dump the trash or start a bath in case she missed hearing it ring.
This was decades ago, when she wasn’t the powerhouse she is today.
But she still had powerful friends…
And one of those was Dr. Maya Angelou.
The award-winning poet, author, and civil rights activist who would go on to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010.
Not surprisingly, Dr. Angelou wasn’t a woman to pull any punches.
She listened patiently to Oprah complain about her bad relationships. Waiting for this guy to ring. Waiting by the window for that guy to show up.
Then Dr. Angelou said:
“When a person says to you, ‘I’m selfish,’ or ‘I’m mean,’ or ‘I am unkind,’ believe them. They know themselves much better than you do.”
The moment was captured on camera for The Oprah Winfrey Show, and it became one of the defining lessons of Oprah’s life.
Oprah sums up what she learned like this:
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
It sounds so simple.
But it’s not.
How do you know someone just showed you who they are? You don’t want to jump to conclusions. You might be mistaken about what you saw. You don’t want to come down too hard on someone, especially if they’re doing their best. What about second chances?
Dr. Angelou’s message goes right up against the most powerful rule of being a good person:
See the good in everyone.
Do you look for the good in the men you date?
Or do you, like Dr. Angelou, look for the truth?
Ideally, you want to do both. Seeing the best in him makes him feel good. But his words and his actions may not align. Protect yourself by paying attention.
There’s a knack to balancing the two. See if you have it by trying this little quiz.
A man promises to call but doesn’t. Do you think:
- “He didn’t call. What a jerk! Good riddance,” or
- “Hmm, he hasn’t called. Interesting,” or
- “Why hasn’t he called? Maybe he got busy. Or something came up. Or his phone got disconnected.”