The Give and Take of Trust

By Linda Fisher Thornton

This post is a previously published reader favorite.

The post Should Trust Be Freely Offered or Conditionally Earned? generated lively discussions in LinkedIn Groups about extending trust when we meet someone new. It was clear from reading the discussions that trust has many different dimensions.

Readers shared how they perceived trust – some saw it as an emotion, some saw it as a relationship, others described it as a mindset. They took the discussion beyond the original question and explored how we extend trust to others based on many variables.

Here is a partial list of the variables that impact how freely we extend trust, based on reader comments. What would you add?

Variables That Impact How Freely We Extend Trust

  1. Our Openness to Learning
  2. Our Past Experiences, Stereotypes and Misinformation (What We Believe is True)
  3. The Other Person’s Reliability and Morality Based on Our Experience With Them
  4. The Level of Our Relationship With the Other Person
  5. Our Perception (Glass Half Full or Half Empty) and Approach to Life
  6. Whether or Not We Share Values or Common Goals With the Other Person
  7. The Perceived Level of Risk in the Situation (and Our Level of Fear)
  8. Our Expectations About How Trustworthy the Person Will Be
  9. How Much the Other Person Has Extended Trust to Us
  10. How Clear the Communication is Between Us
  11. Our Perception of How Capable the Other Person Is
  12. Our Perception of the Other Person’s Motives
  13. The Other Person’s Behavior

In spite of how many variables readers mentioned that impact how freely we extend trust, the majority felt strongly that it is still good to freely extend trust. Below are some of the reasons they named for freely extending trust when we meet someone new.

Reasons Why We Should Extend Trust Freely 

  • Most people are honorable
  • Extending trust is leading by example, showing the other person the way we would like to be trusted
  • Our lives will be unhappy if we mistrust everyone
  • As we trust others, they are more likely to trust us back

Special thanks to the many readers who posted insightful comments in response to the original post. I’ll leave you with this quote:

“Someone who thinks the world is always cheating him is right. He is missing that wonderful feeling of trust in someone or something.” – Eric Hoffer

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