You might be a little bit familiar with the idiom ‘a wolf in a sheep’s skin’. And as the title suggests, this article will discuss about it.
While many online articles that you might come across narrow down its practical presence in the highly competitive environment that exists today everywhere, we will start with a slightly different perspective.
Nevertheless, we will definitely move on towards explaining it in the context that applies more often today as its existence is an undeniable fact.
This is to say that no matter wherever you are and whether you work as an employee in a big multinational company or some well-known welfare organization; or you simply run a business of your own, it really does not matter.
You do come across situations where you get face to face with a wolf in sheep’s skin.
To make it easier, we have tried to make a relationship or comparison, wherever possible, between two examples and the situation or circumstances that give rise to getting in direct contact with a wolf in sheep’s skin.
So chances are that by the time you finish reading this article, your understanding of the words ‘wolf in a sheep’s skin’ would not be different by much wider.
Two examples to start with
Before we get any further with our topic, we need to start with two examples, as we already mentioned earlier.
You will see how these examples are very basic and simple to understand in there nature. We believe that these examples will lay out the foundation for many things in this article.
The first example is based on a famous historical myth, which we are sure you might have heard or read about before. Still you might never have thought of viewing it in the context of this article’s topic.
The second example however, is something based on technology and about which we have little doubt if any internet user has never seen or experienced while using the internet.
So let’s begin.
The first example is of two cities that remained at war for ten years.
While the reason for the conflict between them isn’t important here, the most important thing is that how things actually ended between the two enemies.
In fact, how did one army’s act of disguise turned their ten years struggle and continuous defeat into their victory in just one night.
We are talking about the Trojan War or the war between the Greeks and the City of Troy, as some of our readers might easily recall.
It’s just a routine day of you browsing the internet when all of a sudden, a pop-up or a dialog box appears out of nowhere with a message that alerts you.
Perhaps this message is about your personal computer being hacked, or your email account is full, or even a highly captivating message to check the effectiveness of your anti-virus software.
And what do you need to do to overcome these issues? Simply download the recommended software on this pop-up or advert.
Commonly known as ‘Scareware’, these are software or virus programs that disguise themselves as an issue that you are facing right now and that needs your urgent attention.
These also suggest a solution and want you to take spontaneous action.
They can be so appealing or confusing for most users that majority of them will do whatever they are asked to do.
And that too without even trying first to inquire about the integrity of the message and whether the issue exists or not.
Lesson to learn till this point
So the most important lesson to learn till this point is that there are situations where people disguise themselves as a totally different person to fulfill their own agenda.
And how do they do it? By using tactics to disguise their true self and make others pay for it.
Whether the person they use gets any advantage or not or even if they get totally destroyed, it means nothing for the disguised person.
In simple words, such people actually are a ‘wolf in a sheep’s skin’.
What is the meaning of ‘wolf in a sheep’s skin’?
This idiom is derived from a situation where a shepherd is well aware and on high alert to protect his grazing flock of sheep from any danger or harm, especially from a wolf.
But what if some clever wolf wears the skin of a sheep, sneaks in and mixes with the other members of the flock.
This is a situation where the odds are in the wolf’s favor. Even the most on guard and prudent shepherd can go wrong in judging how he is being scammed with his eyes wide open.
You often face these types of situations in real life. People come to you with hidden motives and plans.
They tend to show you their support, praise you for what you are worth, promise you rewards and high returns but only for the time until their underlying or hidden objectives aren’t achieved.
Once they have had what they wanted from you, you are nothing more than a used tissue paper to them. In short, they trash you.
Relationship between the above two examples and ‘wolf in a sheep’s skin’
Well, now you might be thinking how the examples given above form a relationship with the idiom ‘wolf in a sheep’s skin’. So here it is.
Relationship with example 1
In the Trojan War, the Greeks have been unsuccessful at defeating the City of Troy for ten years. They were unable to make them surrender or give up.
But then they came up with the idea of making a Trojan horse and enter the independent City of Troy.
What seemed as a gift to the people of the City of Troy, something that symbolized their victory, was actually their enemy disguised as such.
And then probably you too are very well aware about what followed during the night when they brought the Trojan horse inside their city.
Relationship with example 2
Compromising your own security by opening the entrance to your personal computer to a disguised advert that isn’t what it seems to be is a common modern day example.
This example clearly shows of how technology can be used as a wolf in a sheep’s skin.
Something that poses itself to be a solution to a probable issue within your personal computer, actually ends up being the cause of a great problem itself.
How to detect a wolf in sheep’s skin?
Now that we have presented enough hints and explanations on the topic, let us now discuss the ways in which you can detect a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
1. The only person they think of is themselves
A wolf disguised as sheep is someone who only thinks of themselves.
As mentioned earlier, they are there to fulfill their motives only. Even if this means any harm to other people or their reputation.
No matter how much would any person suffer or is certain to suffer, is of no concern to a wolf.
And whether it means hurting others deliberately or carelessly, a wolf won’t even bother about it.
Even if asked or caught for doing such a miserable act, they will act as if they weren’t aware of it or they will retaliate.
2. There exterior and interior are complete opposite
To gain an unfair advantage or to use someone for their motive, a wolf will portray a completely different look and attitude on the outside.
But the thing that they still lack is being consistent with this look. No matter how well they makeup and how clever they seem to be, there will always be a time when they will disclose their true side.
At times they might turn aggressive or retaliate in an unexpected manner especially when things get out of their control or any situation turns against them.
Holding their greed for too long isn’t something that they are good at.
3. They know your weak spots
A wolf will always know your weak spots. They will research and study their prey in advance to hit them on their most vulnerable points.
For gaining an advantage and to fulfill their need by your means, they will align their desires with yours as if they are working with you as a team member or your partner.
But despite this, they will want to have their share first without making any sacrifice on their own.
And once they have had what they wanted or if they anticipate nothing more from you, they will discard you and leave you in the middle of nowhere.
4. They will support and praise you
To get your attention, a wolf will always start by showing their support towards your cause and your goals.
They will praise you and your efforts and if anything goes wrong with you, they will act to soothe you as well with their kind words and attitude.
They will remind you of how others have wronged you and how they trust you in your stance.
Once you start to believe that they do care for you, they will move on towards using you for their motive.
Often times it will happen that the person that they consider as their enemy is someone who really cares about you but who also happens to be the person who over-reacted at some stage.
This over-reaction might be because they care for you and have your interest at heart.
But a wolf seeing this temporary incident or misunderstanding between any two truly loving and caring people, will try to exploit the situation to its own advantage while leaving others totally devastated.
5. Their stories won’t connect
No matter how hard they try to cover up their loopholes and come up with instant excuses, they will still leave traces of ambiguity.
This is to say that they will never be able to consistently apply or continue with a single story.
Their explanations might seem to satisfy or fit any particular situation, but when combined with their other stories and when analyzed on a broader perspective, hardly anything will connect.
6. They will push you and ask you to speed up
A wolf will always ask you to speed up and push you towards completing their motive.
Since keeping up with their disguised look isn’t something that they can easily continue for long and they constantly fear revealing their true side accidentally, they will always be in a hurry.
How to avoid a wolf in sheep’s skin?
Given the above cases on how to detect a wolf in sheep’s clothing, it is now easy for us to quickly recap and briefly explain how one can avoid being a prey to a wolf in sheep’s skin.
1. Don’t be overwhelmed
Recall the example of the Trojan War, see where the people of the City of Troy committed just one but a huge mistake.
They got overwhelmed. Instead of thinking about why would an enemy without any formal reason or a call for a truce accept their defeat and that too with a gift or an award for the winner.
2. Carry a detailed inspection
Never forget to carry out a detailed inspection or analyze any situation from more than one angle.
In the case of an office, when someone praises you or sympathizes with you for being wronged and tries to raise you against someone, do not take any instant decision.
Instead, try to analyze the situation and understand whose mistake it really was and how far reaching do you see its consequences to be.
If it is something that happens on a routine basis and then soon settles, there is absolutely nothing to overreact about.
In the case of the examples, if only the citizens of Troy carried out a detailed inspection or waited sometime before bringing the Trojan horse inside their city, things would have favored them.
Similarly in the case of a scareware, only those people get trapped who do not wait to inquire the truth and actually check whether the issue being highlighted is real or not.
3. Do an audit trail
If you doubt or sense a danger from a supposed ally, carry out an audit trail yourself.
Try to connect everything that you know so far and look for spots where anything doesn’t seem to match.
4. Limit sharing every detail
As mentioned earlier, a wolf in sheep’s skin will try to hit you on your weak spots. In other words, a wolf might try to emotionally blackmail you to draw an unfair advantage out of you.
The only way to avoid this is to keep your personal information and any weak spots that you are aware of to yourself.
Do not share anything and everything unnecessarily with other people. Remember if you yourself cannot hold a secret to yourself, do not expect others to do the same for you.
The purpose of writing this article is not to scare you and neither should you become scared as well.
Our only purpose is to help you realize just at the right time if someone is trying to take you for granted so that you can escape such situation.
Since not coming in contact with a wolf in sheep’s skin is actually not possible, the only way out is to take precautionary measures before it’s too late.