Underground Motivations



Our gut will tell us that something is not right, that someone is saying or doing something, yet meaning something else. But for many technically-trained people, where logic makes sense and one-plus-one-makes-two, it’s a mystery when something someone says isn’t what they really meant. Below are some questions which may help you think through *why* your instincts are on alert, what they are already telling you: that someone is communicating beyond what their words are saying.

Body Language

  1. Does the body language conflict with the words that they are saying? Do their eyes or hands or face or body tell you ‘no’ when they are saying ‘yes’ or vice versa?
  2. Is the energy they are projecting with their body and voice and actions in alignment with the words that they are expressing?


  1. Who do you know who knows the person you’re interacting with? Which groups and people have interacted with him/her? What is the history here, both good and bad?
  2. Having ‘history’ doesn’t mean that she/he will repeat past actions, but the past is an indicator of the future.

Organizational Structure

  1. Why might this person say what they are saying to you, and how might this be associated with the current organizational structure? What might they see is in it for them? What might they want from you? How can you collaborate with her/him to create a win-win? What can you do to help build trust with them so that you can both communicate transparently?
  2. What might be a recent occurrence or something in the near or far horizon which may cause the kind of behavior that you’re seeing?


  1. How is this person communicating with others following your conversation? Is it in alignment with your understanding about next steps?
  2. Who is she/he communicating with, and what could that mean about their intentions?

Network and Growth

  1. Could this person be asked by someone else to adopt a task which he/she doesn’t have the passion or knowledge to do?
  2. Could this person be asked by someone else to expand their network, and she/he is connecting with you to do so, and fears like doing a task he/she may not savor is fundamental to building that network, whether it is or not?

We hope that you find these questions useful the next time your gut tells you that something’s not quite right, someone isn’t who he/she appears to be. Next month, we will talk about strategies on how to build trust and transparency when this happens.

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