• Nancy Mendelson

You Need to Heed the Red Flags

Who among us has never experienced red flag moments––either personally, professionally, or both? You know, the uneasy feeling in your gut that signals you to pay attention because something isn’t right.



Full disclosure, I only just extricated myself from a potential project whereby, if I ignored the increasing number of red flags, my life could have easily become a living hell. One in which no amount of added aggravation tax could ever compensate for the level of stress and toxicity I just know would have been heaped upon me. And I would have no one to blame but myself. So why did I let it get this far?


Well, it sounded like a very interesting project and right up my alley, so I was open to a conversation. Then there was the $$$$ ––extremely appealing, especially given the one-two-pandemic punch to my cash flow over the past two years. Two very good reasons, even though I felt the subtle nudge of the first red flag during our initial conference call. No matter, after a bit of arguing with myself, I decided to continue the conversation and give this potential client the benefit of the doubt – which, in retrospect, I realize was MY doubt!


Over the next few days, I felt like I was playing Whack-a-Mole with every new red flag that popped up until I could no longer ignore the signs or talk myself into something I knew was a terrible idea. It occurred to me that if these people were disrespectful and demanding before signing a contract, imagine how they’d be if they were paying me. Been there, done that! There was no way I was going to let this happen, again.

So, I walked away as professionally as I could… and yet I still have a knot in my stomach, why?

Am thinking it’s because, throughout my life, I have had a hard time saying “no,” in business, as well as in my personal relationships; and even though over the years I’ve gotten so much better at it, it’s still somewhat uncomfortable. I’ll take that discomfort over ignoring the red flags that can take you down the wrong path.

Did a bit of Googling on the topic of red flags and as you can imagine, there’s a lot of advice and interesting info available. I particularly liked this one in Psychology Today by Lawrence Josephs, Ph.D. Why People Ignore Red Flags of Trouble in Their Relationships. While the focus is on ”how to avoid buyer’s remorse in your love life,” I found that if you read it through a business lens, you’ll get just as much out of it, because that uneasy red flag signal in your gut is there to protect you in any life situation. It’s up to you to not ignore it.