How to Know Whether to Trust Someone

Written by Pam MS, NCSP | Fact checked by Psychology Dictionary staff 

Often times, individuals place their trust in someone and later learn the person was not worthy of that trust. These lessons are painful and commonly cause one to exercise caution in the future. Trust is a gift that must be earned. Do not make the mistake of bestowing that gift on another too soon or if they lack certain traits.

Situational Trust

During the course of various relationships that we have in our lives, we learn people's strengths and weaknesses. You might know one person's driving ability well enough to trust them to drive you from one location to another. However, when it comes to money, the same person may have serious shortcomings. Therefore, this would not be an individual from which to get financial advice. Determining whether someone is trust worthy might depend on a specific situation and that person's past track record.

Competency

If a person displays an obvious inability to accomplish a certain task, it would not be wise to trust them to perform the same activity in the future before providing more training or guidance. Similarly, you if someone gossips, judges or talks negatively about others behind their back, they are not someone in whom you would necessarily trust with a secret, information concerning a personal problem or other delicate subject.

Behavioral Consistency

Someone may possess the knowledge, experience and ability to perform a particular job. However, sometimes they do the job well and at other times the completed task is subpar. Inconsistencies might also emerge in their ability to arrive on time. Before trusting someone with your emotions or perhaps with a tidbit of information that you do not want divulged, know if the individual is consistently reliable of being trusted. Determine if they are loyal only to certain people or in certain situations. Also consider the opinions of others concerning the individual.

Overall Character

After getting to know someone, you often have enough evidence based on actions and behaviors to determine whether that individual shares your level of morality. In time, they may prove themselves dependable and loyal in various situations that might involve you. You might also witness their positive traits in regards to others. You learn about various positive character traits that deem them trustworthy. These characteristics typically include knowing that the other individual has your best interests at heart. They display honesty and integrity. The other person is not deceptive and does not take advantage of others. A trustworthy person treats you and others with respect. The individual is available for friends or loved ones when needed. They may inconvenience themselves for the benefit of someone else.

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