What You Don’t Know About Trust

One of the recent O Magazines has a particularly useful article on trust by Martha Beck called Who’s Never Going to Let You Down. The whole thing is worth reading, but if you only have time to scan, don’t miss her six questions that tell you whether a person deserves your trust. Have a little more time? The Trust Test is a quiz for testing your own trustworthiness as well.

6 thoughts on “What You Don’t Know About Trust

  1. I started reading this on your recommendation, but she lost me when she talked about asking someone mid-conversation if they were comfortable, and concluding they were untrustworthy liars if they said yes.

    In that context, that inquiry is a polite expression of a host’s concern for a guest’s comfort, and the polite response (unless you’re truly uncomfortable) is that yes, thank you, you’re quite comfortable. That just means you’re well-bred, not a liar.

    And anyway, no one expects to be exactly as comfortable out in the world as they are in their own bedroom. During the day we wear shoes, and non-stretch pants, and we sit up, and act generally civilized…basically, we are our public selves, not our private selves.

    Anyway, her questions were pretty good, but I was so turned off by that particular bit of self-righteousness that I decided I didn’t trust her.


  2. Point taken. Thought I wouldn’t call it self righteous, that wasn’t the approach I would have taken either. However, the rest of the article was really valuable to me, so I’m glad the questions were interesting to you.


  3. Great article and perfect timing as I was just stung by a “friend” at my work whom I trusedt with a surface comment about a colleague and he promptly reported this comment. Should have listened to my spider-sense about him but I did not and was burned. So noted and will start look at the 6 questions as a barometer, with a grain of salt of course.


  4. Interesting. I have a pretty good trust-o-meter… but what’d I’d really like to know is how to deal w/the untrustworthy people. All i know to do is cut them out of my life once I see them start to burn me.


  5. This seems like terrible advice. The treatment of relationships in such a black and white manner is almost always highly suspect.

    I like to think that my friends and colleagues judge me to be trustworthy not because I tell the unerring, even painful, truth in every situation, but because they have observed that I have good judgment, that my actions are tempered with thought, that I care about them.

    I agree that we should understand the limitations of the relationships we have. If a long time friend is always late for events, don’t put them in charge of organizing anything… but does that really translate into an inability to listen over the phone to your problems and keep it to themself? Would anyone in their right mind trash-talk coworkers at work and not expect it to get around? Do you let your boyfriend have all-girl sleepovers? Even if he answered Yes to the first 3 and No to the last 3???

    We all ask questions we don’t want the answer to. Our friends are the ones who know what we need to hear to help us get through life.


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