To trust or not to trust?


The concept of trust has been on my mind a lot lately. My 86-year-old father has been dealing with dementia, although he doesn’t acknowledge that fact. Instead, there’s a paranoia that has descended upon everything and everyone. He assumes everyone is out to get him. He wants to threaten and fight. And that’s not just the people at the bank, or strangers, it’s even his own daughters.


We are trying to help, and he views it as deception. And he leans immediately towards distrust, skepticism and goes on the attack. It made me think about our trust tendency. I think that’s always been my dad. He’s always thought about how somebody can screw you over.


I remember when he taught me how to shop for my first car before everything was digital. He taught me how to look at the brake fluid and the automatic transmission fluid to see what color it is and to see if it matched when the oil change shop said they got the oil changed. He taught me to look at the tire treads and think about how long tires lasted compared to how many miles were on the odometer. Because when he was younger, he worked at a tire shop, and they used to put grooves in the tires to make them look less used than they were. When you come from an experience like that, the is a tendency to distrust.


But I see it all over the place. My friend’s daughter got a concussion and told her teacher so that she could have extra time for her work. The teacher’s response was not to believe her to assume that the child was lying to get one over on her, or to get away with something. She truly had a concussion. But it took a nurse’s note to convince this teacher.


I feel lucky to have been raised by a mother who often said, “Trust until somebody gives you a reason not to.” (Click to Tweet) Which I suppose is similar to the concept, trust but verify.


I have always tended to trust. It may go hand in hand with my tendency toward optimism. Recently I was teaching my Connected Leadership program and in the module on trust we talked about how you have to give trust to get trust. To share, to be vulnerable is to trust someone with information. When you feel trusted, you are more likely to trust. But someone needs to take the first leap.


I think it’s interesting to think about what your trust tendencies are. And are they working for you or against you? You might think having a tendency to distrust protects you. But it also might keep you from building closer, stronger relationships. I’m not suggesting trust blindly, but perhaps there’s something that you can do to take a step towards trust.


Want to read more about the four fundamental aspects of trust, read what they are here.

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