I know that this is a common issue: when should I trust people and when should I not? One thing I know – no one is trustworthy. We are all capable of lying and dishonoring our promises. So, on one hand, you should not trust anyone. However, that is a terrible way to live life and it would be extremely hard to be in business successfully. So, if no one is trustworthy, trust is a gift you give. I want to give you some guidance on when it is a better bet, and some red flags as to when you are better off being more cautious.

When you meet someone, your first impression is important. Your brain chemistry either connects with them or goes into protect and defend mode. There is a science to it. Some people call that their intuition. Whatever it is, it is often a good indicator to “proceed with caution”. I hesitate from saying to avoid a person, as we all have off days or off moments, and this time that you meet them may be one of them. However, listen to your intuition and use probing questions to discover if this is someone you can trust. In other words, trust yourself.

It is true that “actions speak louder than words”. People promise things, say things all the time, and then don’t deliver. If they do it once or twice and apologize and then stop it, that is a good indicator that you can trust them. However, if they are someone who is always full of excuses / reasons / justifications for why they did not do what they said, you cannot trust them. Now, from time to time, people work with a coach, like me, and discover why they do that sort of behavior and actually transform it. Then they clean up the mess they made when they were justifying not doing what they said, and become someone you can trust. In other words, anyone can change, if they choose to.

Let’s do a little thought experiment:

  1. Think of a time when you had a business or personal relationship that did not turn out well.
  2. Write down all the reasons why it did not turn out well. You can start with what happened and then see if you can dissect it.
  3. Next, write down all the times before the final end of the relationship when you saw or suspected signs of what happened. In other words, what were the red flags?
  4. Finally, ask yourself why you did not intervene when whatever happened earlier happened again and ended the relationship.
  5. What you discover in step 4 may be a common theme for you – the reason you tolerate and put up with things and then regret it later.

When you do this experiment and you discover the patterns you have in stepping over things or ignoring them or putting up with them, you can choose to take new action. For example, you can see the red flags and can intervene earlier and save yourself the ‘shock’ of what happens.

I know this is all about trusting people, but the most important thing to remember is you must first trust yourself. The thought experiment often reveals where you stop trusting yourself. Discovering that, also, is a step into taking new actions. Self-doubt can be disabling. Trust yourself. Trust IS a gift. 

Give trust wisely.