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3 Expert Tips to Avoid Scams, Stress, and Self Doubt

We could all use an occasional lifeline to escape tricky situations. Here, experts give insider advice on how best to extricate yourself with ease!  

Scam Phone Calls: Never say this word

Half of all cellphone calls this year are expected to be from robot spammers, which can be costly and dangerous. Out of 30 billion robo calls in 2017, scammers stole $350 million from folks. “Relying on Caller ID isn’t fail-safe since scammers can now ‘spoof,’ or fake, the numbers they call from,” says Susan Grant, director of consumer protection and privacy at the Consumer Federation of America. 

One fix: “People aren’t answering their phones, letting calls go to voice mail.” If you do pick up a suspicious call, hang up quickly and never say the word “yes,” even to simple questions like, “Are you the homeowner?” Scammers can record your voice and use it to try to authorize illicit charges.

Social Entanglements: Consider a friendly boundary

How to unclog a calendar full of unwanted events? Tell people, “My plate is overflowing right now, and I can’t make that event,” advises Ivan Misner, PhD, author of Who’s in Your Room: The Secret to Creating Your Best Life ($13.00, Amazon). “This works especially well when you start with, ‘If I said yes to this request, I’m afraid I’d let you down,’” because it shows that your relationship with that person is important. “People tend to respect that boundary.”

Also smart: Distance yourself from toxic people via benign neglect — subtle, gradual decisions that move a person further from your daily orbit, says Misner. One example: not initiating emails or phone calls.

A Mental Funk: Switch thinking this way

Often, the thing we get stuck in is our own head. “We can get paralyzed being caught up in thinking about how we stack up to people around us,” Misner says. Trouble is, we tend to compare our inner securities with the polished outer image others present. “Recognize that what you see in others is only what they are showing you,” Misner says. 

His trick? Repeat the phrase: “Things are not always what they seem.” Then think about one thing you offer the world. “By focusing on your best self, you see that you bring to the table experiences and knowledge no one else has.”

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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