Are We Less Trusting Today?
Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships. – Stephen R. Covey
Do any of the following apply to you?
- Do you trust the ATM machines with your money and identification?
- Do you trust other drivers on the road?
- Do you trust the Used Items Market (including used cars)?
- Do you trust drivers in carpooling?
- Do you trust discount offers on the internet?
- Do you trust people to be on time or do what they said they would?
- Do you trust people to repay a loan?
If any, most or even all of them apply to you, you are certainly in very good company. In a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, the following question was asked:
“Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you can’t be too careful in dealing with people”?
Millennials came out on top as the least trusting group at only 19%, whereas boomers were twice as likely to be trusting at 40%. Other statistics suggest that people are less and less trusting in institutions. In America 13% trust in government leaders and 25% trust in banking institutions.
You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment unless you trust enough. – Frank Crane
Clearly, trust cannot be assumed and certainly, it appears to be very fragile.
What Factors Determine Trust?
How do we decide whether or not we will trust a person or group of people? What are we looking for? In its article The Decision to Trust, the Harvard Business Review outlines the following 10 factors involved in making a “trust decision”.
The Level of Tolerance to Risk
Our tolerance to risk depends on how much we are willing to cast our cares to the wind and have faith that things will turn out ok. Some people are less cautious or alternatively, more willing to take a chance. Others feel the need to be more in control of a situation and people’s actions.
Level of Adjustment
How comfortable we are in our skin and in our environment can determine the degree to which we are willing to trust. If we feel capable and confident in our selves and believe the same about others, we are more likely to trust them.
Relative Level of Power
Our level of authority within an organization can have a certain influence and somehow make us more or less vulnerable to positional risk. For example, an employee is not in the same position or may feel less able to offer constructive criticism than an employer or person in a higher organizational position.
Degree of Security
Our sense of situational security also plays a role is our ability or choice to trust. It could be a matter of career/employment stability or environmental risks such as travel. We tend to measure or calculate the possible scenarios and outcomes of insecure situations.
Number of Similarities
Like-minded people tend to gravitate toward one another (even if in love, opposites attract). We are more willing to work with, spend time with and listen to people who share commonalities with us such as common cultural values, shared personality traits, or a common membership to a group such as a sports group or religious organization.
Alignment of Interests
Another determining factor in giving away our trust is how well our interests line up with one another. In other words, if I am going to give my trust over to an individual, do I feel confident that he or she is concerned about my interests and that I don’t have to question his or her motives?
Degree of Benevolent Concern
How much is the other person to lay o the line? Does he have a certain degree of the welfare of other people around him? To what degree is he willing to sacrifice his own interests and serve others over himself? These are important qualities of a leader. A person who puts others over himself will attract the trust of others.
We are more likely to put our trust in someone who demonstrates competence especially in a professional or service context over other concerns, For example. when we are flying on a plane we are more concerned with the pilot’s ability to fly a plane safely than whether or not he is a likable person. Similarly, it doesn’t matter too much to us as much whether our dentist likes fishing (like we do) if he or she is not able to fix our dental issues.
Predictability and Integrity
How reliable is the person to whom we are considering giving our trust? Do they have a good track record of delivering what they promised? Can they be counted on to do what they say they will do and in the time frame given? To give our trust to another individual, we need to feel confident that they will come through for us. No one wants to put his trust in someone that can not be counted on.
Level of Communication
Effective and honest communication is crucial to building bonds of trust. When people feel that they are free to share and be heard and that information is clear and accurate as well as helpful and given in a spirit of mutual interest, they are more willing to trust. they also tend to feel more trustworthy in the eyes of others.
The fundamental glue that holds any relationship together… is trust.
Characteristics of Trustworthiness
Inc lists the following 15 characteristics of a trustworthy person in its article: Want to Know If Someone Is Trustworthy? Look for These 15 Signs
Compassion and humility
Respectful of boundaries
Willing to make sacrifices
Respectful of time (theirs and other’s time )
Not overly concerned with money
Have a good track record with being right
Do not engage in gossip
Value connecting people
Willing to confide
Trust is like a paper, once it’s crumpled it can’t be perfect again.
Why Do We Have Trouble Trusting?
Trust and trustworthiness have a lot to do with how we deal with people and are developed through spending a good amount of time with them. Unfortunately, these days, we, as a society (and I am using western societies as an example), are increasingly media- focused rather than people-centered. Our human contacts are often not as deep as they could be and we spend a lot more time with media (cell phones, computers, video games) than we should.
Much of the media that we take in is superficial, negative and sucks up our time and energy. The negative in the media is relentlessly pumped out whereas good news and behavior in the media are comparatively downplayed. So, all in all, we are an individualistic society and spend far less time interacting with people than in past generations.
Is it no wonder that we have such difficulty trusting? When most of what we encounter around us ( in media, advertising) is negative or superficial, and money-focused, it is difficult to foster trusting relationships. In a world where people are considered disposable, it is hard to want to invest in people and become vulnerable. We prefer to protect ourselves. so we close ourselves off in an effort to do so.
The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” – Ernest Hemingway
Trust Is the Glue of Life
As Stephen Covey said in his book The Speed of Trust, “trust is the glue of life”. No relationship, personal or professional can hold any water without it and no effective and authentic communication can take place in the absence of trust. Without trust, we live in fear and will seek only to protect ourselves. Trust is the foundation of all economic and social activity. We don’t have to look very far to see what happens when the bonds of trust break down.
But the good news is we have the power, the information and the ability to foster an environment of trust because trust begins with us. When we show or trust in others, people often (though not always) want to show themselves as trustworthy. Trust breaks down when one side chooses not to trust, but it is built up when trust is encouraged and given. Yes, it is true that trust has to be earned. We can not give our trust away blindly. But we can encourage people to be trustworthy by showing them that we believe in them and in their desire to do good. Trust is a two-way street that should be walked on very carefully and wisely.
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Diane Lynne enjoys travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life. You can connect with her at livingandstuff.ca