| How to Know Who You Can Trust
|What is the motivation behind trust?
“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”
In my last column, I wrote about loyalty, which got me thinking
about trust. I wondered who is in my life that I trust, and who that
I don’t trust. It didn’t take me long to realize that I trust everyone
in my life, because I shed those whom I don’t trust.
As I pondered trust, I recalled a woman I once dated, who told
me she was a widow. Later on, I learned from an independent
source that she was divorced and not widowed. When I inquired
about this discrepancy, she admitted that she was divorced, but
that her ex-husband died a year or so after their divorce, so she
figured that qualified her as a widow. If she wanted to consider
herself a widow, that was fine with me, but the problem was
that my trust was broken, and I started questioning the
veracity of all her stories.
As Friedrich Nietzsche observed, “I'm not upset that you lied to
me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.”
Unsurprisingly, a month later, we were no longer dating.
When I was in college, I was riding in the car with one of my
closest friends when he was pulled over by the police and
arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. I had to call
my parents from the jail to come pick me up. A few months
later, I was riding with him again, when he was pulled over
for speeding. The policeman searched his car and found some
marijuana in the console and arrested him. I felt lucky that I
wasn’t arrested too. Nevertheless, I had still had the
embarrassment of having to call my parents to come to pick me
up at the jail. After that incident, my trust was broken, and I
quit riding with him. Whenever we went somewhere, I always
insisted that we go in separate cars. A few years later, on an
occasion when we had agreed to go out for lunch, he showed
up at my house and offered to drive. I said, “You know I won’t
ride with you.” He then replied, “It’s not a problem anymore;
with my new car, I never get pulled over.” Curious, I asked,
“How can that be?” So he explained that he had purchased a
used police car, had it painted and outfitted to look like an
unmarked patrol car, and ever since he hadn’t been pulled
over even when speeding past a radar-trap. It was not enough
to restore my trust, and we continued onto to lunch in
separate vehicles as usual.
Before our trust can be lost, we first have to give it. For some
people we make them earn our trust, but for others we freely
give it away. According to ChangingMinds.org: “Trust is both
an emotional and logical act.” On one hand, it is a feeling.
If we have some familiarity with a person, that is if they share
something meaningful with us such as culture, values, or even
community, we are more likely to give them our trust without
expecting them to earn it first. According to author, Simon
Sinek, “When we’re surrounded by people who believe what
we believe, something remarkable happens, trust emerges.”
On the other hand, before we are willing to do business with a
stranger, we want some assurance that they will provide what
The motivation behind trust is to find someone who cares
enough about us that we can rely on them. But, that desire
involves risk. When we trust someone, we make ourselves
vulnerable to that person. We give that person the power to
hurt us. Do you know if the person you want to trust cares
about you? If not, then you might want to make them prove
their trustworthiness first.
Trust, like loyalty and respect, is a two-way street. If you want
other people to trust you, you must give them reasons. The
Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto
you," is a great place to start if you want to create trust.
We foster trust within another person by being reliable or
predictable - especially if we are seeking to do business with
them. You earn trust by delivering what you promised, when
you promised it. Trust may also require a certain level of
expertise, ability, or competence. For example, few people will
want to hire you as a doctor if you haven’t been to medical
school. Education, however, is seldom enough, it also takes
having confidence in yourself and your abilities to build trust
from others. And, if the person considering you for a job doesn’t
know you, then they will want to know someone who does
know you. That’s why referrals, recommendations, and
testimonials are so important.
Trust is vital to the success of every relationship whether it
is personal or professional. In brief, being trustworthy means
you keep your word, maintain your responsibilities, prove your
competence, and... you never lie, cheat, or gossip!
© Robert Evans Wilson, Jr.