Thursday, March 08, 2007

Meting Out Trust

  1. Not everyone deserves the same amount of trust. Those nearest you (and in the same boat with you) have earned and deserve the most.

    Never assume that people not in the same boat with you really have your best interest at heart. They have nothing at stake in the matter, so they may have nasty ulterior motives behind what they say. More often, of course, they are just somewhat careless and are merely trying to sound or look good, without really considering the consequences to you of their advice.

    In meting out the trust you give others, you have to go by their track record.

    If you know a person lied yesterday, he or she is a liar today. I don't care if they are a canonized saint: they lack credibility.

    Yet most people judge by the appearances that status or reputation create instead of track record. The result is that a certain person or institution can lie and lie and cheat and cheat and rape and rape and loot and loot till the end of time. Because no matter how many times he or it proves they can't be trusted, the whole world acts as though the past is irrelevant and keeps on trusting them.

    When someone has lost your trust, they need to earn it back. That takes time. It takes time to establish a trustworthy track record to become worthy of your trust again.

    But when someone has lost your trust through treachery, which is cruel, I think you should never forget that. For, it is the sign of a predatory nature, not a mere stumble from the straight and narrow, such as anyone might have.

    Common sense dictates that we should be careful of strangers, because they have no track record with us. Ironically, most people trust strangers more than people they know! (This is what keeps street con artists in business.)

    If you know someone for a long time, you are bound to learn things about them that you don't like. You will know what kind of things they are likely to be dishonest about. You will know in what ways you can trust them and to what extent you can trust them. I am happy to trust them that much, whether or not I really like them.

    But strangers you know nothing about. This doesn't mean you should be suspicious of strangers. In other words, I wouldn't mistrust them without reason. But I think you should invest only a baseline level of safe trust in them till you know they are worthy of more.

    When you see a sign of bad faith, mental illness, manipulation, or predation in someone's behavior, please don't blow it off. Make note of it. If you never see another, great: it was an anomaly or perhaps a misunderstanding. But if you do see it again, or see another, take the warning signs seriously.

    The signs are self evident to anyone who really pays attention to the people around him or her. I suspect that the only people who totally miss them are the self-absorbed (i.e., those who are somewhat narcissistic themselves).

    The rest of What Makes Narcissists Tick highlights some of these signs. But here are gathered a generalized list of behaviors that bear negatively on a person's trustworthiness:

    · Blowing up today and acting like it happen tomorrow.
    · Weird lies.
    · Betraying anyone or anything.
    · A broken (or changed) promise.
    · Reactions that are bizarre, perplexing, and make you have to pinch yourself.
    · Attempting to come between you anyone else.
    · Attempting to come between you and your word.
    · Attempting to come between you and your money.
    · Attempting to come between you and yourself.
    · Being glib.
    · Asking personal questions, prying.
    · Not minding one's own business.
    · Judging your personal private choices, such as what you think or wear.
    · Judging your feelings as though you can change them.
    · Sketchy talk that leaves but a mysterious impression without concrete meaning.
    · Arguments that are mere lines and slogans.
    · Speaking badly of others.
    · Impugning the motives and intents of others.
    · Overreacting to things.
    · Minimizing and catastrophizing.
    · A track record of dishonesty.
    · Asking you to secretly inform against your peers (unless, of course, they have broken the law and you have verified that you are giving this information to legitimate law enforcement authorities).
    · Relating to you inappropriately — by getting too close for the nature of your relationship or by relating to you from above, as your judge.

Kathleen Krajco