How To Tell If Someone Is Trustworthy

By John Daum
July 28, 2020
How To Tell If Someone Is Trustworthy

Oddly enough, you are going to have to trust me on this. You don’t know me. At the end of this, you are going to have to decide if this is trustworthy advice from a trustworthy source.

This is probably a good place for a disclaimer or three: 

  • Trust is a two-way street. Sometimes we withhold trust from people that are trustworthy. We may have gotten burned by someone close to us. We may be having trust issues because the world has gotten crazy and we are anxious and stressed out and feel overwhelmed by the constant bombardment of opinions and information. Or, we may have trust issues to work through on our end for a variety of totally legitimate reasons. Make sure you are doing the work on your end.
  • Trust exists on a sliding scale. Trust is less like a light switch and more like a thermostat—we can turn it up as we develop trust with someone or turn it down if we see someone showing signs of not being trustworthy. Sometimes we don’t have enough history with someone to really decide if they are trustworthy and we have to go with a gut feeling about them. Only you know the track record of your “gut feelings.”
  • Trust can be regained. We have all violated someone’s trust at some point. I know I have. I’ve been grateful that they didn’t write me off as “untrustworthy” forever and ever but gave me opportunities to regain their trust. Sometimes it has taken a period of time and understandably so. Leave others the room you want to be human and make mistakes. That said, there are pathologically untrustworthy people. Note it and act accordingly.

There are things you can be on the lookout for when it comes to trustworthiness. And you should be on the lookout. Trust is the bedrock of our relationships, but trust is also a fragile thing. Whether it is a spouse, our child, a member of our extended family, a neighbor, a co-worker, a friend posting on social media, or even the news—we need to know how much of our trust to invest and we want to be confident that our investment is safe.

Trust Lesson #1. Trustworthy People Tell Themselves The Truth.

We all have blind spots and we don’t always see the person in the mirror with 100% accuracy, but untrustworthy people cannot tell themselves the truth—especially when it comes to hard truths. Their view of themselves seems to be disconnected from realities that the people around them can plainly see. They work hard to create a perception of themselves that the people who know them can see right through. They are out of touch with the consequences of their choices or actions. If someone can’t tell themself the truth, that is a bright red flag concerning their trustworthiness.

Trust Lesson #2. Trustworthy People Don’t Project Negative Motives Onto Others.

Trustworthy people tend to be trusting. Thieves are super paranoid about their stuff being taken. Liars don’t believe anyone else. Cheaters commonly accuse their partners of cheating. When someone thinks everyone else is untrustworthy, that’s usually a sign that THEY aren’t trustworthy. (Interestingly, research on video game players seems to confirm this. The study found that players who were trusting and happy to cooperate and rely on other players were less likely to double-cross their partners in a game.)

Trust Lesson #3. Trustworthy People Don’t Share Too Much Too Soon.

Have you ever known someone for all of five minutes and they started to divulge their deepest darkest secrets to you—from their marriage to their childhood? Or it’s your first day on the job and they are telling you what’s wrong with the company and all your new co-workers? That’s nice of you to listen politely or even sympathetically, but BEWARE. This person is demonstrating that they don’t understand boundaries or the dynamics of trust. (And rest assured that they will be sharing whatever you tell them to the next person they chat with.)

Trust Lesson #4. Trustworthy People Display Self-Control.

We’ve all struggled with that last Oreo cookie or one handful of chips too many, but untrustworthy people are characterized by a lack of self-control. When someone continually displays a lack of self-control or self-discipline, there is no reason to think that they can keep something you said in confidence or keep a boundary that you have asked them to respect. 

Trust Lesson #5. Trustworthy People Are Right—About A Lot.

We aren’t talking about Jeopardy! questions here. Untrustworthy people tell you things about your co-workers, friends, other family members, or current events that you find out later are totally off the mark. Untrustworthy people are wrong—about a lot. This is often because they have an agenda of some kind and honesty isn’t part of it. RED FLAG! Trustworthy people look for and care about the truth! 

★ Look at your trust as a precious commodity. Not everyone is capable of taking care of it and respecting how valuable it is. Invest your trust wisely. To trust is to believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of another person. Trust can make or break a relationship. Make sure you are a trustworthy person. The more you do, the easier it will be to spot untrustworthy people.

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  1. Ernie Durham
    Ernie Durham says:

    Trust can also grow and be reinforced by trusting God. Baby steps in relationships help us to evaluate ourselves and how we are thinking and behaving towards others. This is also true with God. Our relationships with other people is in direct proportion to our relationship with God. If I am spending time with God; relationships take on His perspective (at least half the time!). I guarantee you that in a committed relationship (marriage), if the husband (or wife) is not treating the other with love, dignity and respect; there is a disconnect between them and God. Only God can heal a broken heart!

    • Devin Rather
      Devin Rather says:

      Good for you. You found something that works for you and you’re definitely not pushing it on people who believe something different or nothing at all. Good sound advice