Deconstructing Conflict, Part 2: Trust

Welcome to Part 2 of the 3-part series on conflict. If you haven’t read part 1, be sure to here: Deconstructing Conflict, Part 1: Competition. Now, it is time to explore trust or trusting. Make sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section and share on your favorite social media outlet.

Are you a truster? A trustee? Or a DTA?

Are you someone who trusts too much or too easily? Do you start with 100% trust and lose it from there? Or are you a trustee, someone who everyone seemingly trusts with their deepest secrets right away? Maybe you DTA: “Don’t trust anyone.” People must earn your trust. You will not give out trust like its candy. I hear you. I’m personally a trustee and truster. I want someone to trust me right away, AND I trust right away. I am optimistic about people’s intentions. Many have burned me, but I always see a net positive.

What is trust?

My friend Merriam-Webster tells us that trust has five definitions, only one of which is relevant here: “an assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or trust of someone or something.” This is a complicated definition. I’ll do you one better.

Trust is prediction. I give you money, I predict that you will give me a product/service. When I give you information, I predict that you will not spread that information. I buy your product/service, I predict the product/service works as advertised.

Trust is also vulnerability. You give something and expect something in return without having all the facts. If you cannot trust now, can you trust later? Build trust?

How to build trust

When you’ve been burnt by trusting someone with something, it’s hard to start trusting again. Humans have both short- and long-term memories, one reason why we are awesome. We use deductive reasoning to predict whether something that happened in the past is likely to occur again in the future. How can you start trusting again?

Step 1: Trust Yourself. Part of the reason that we fail to trust others is because we fail to trust ourselves. If you’ve been burned in the past, you might not trust your own decision-making abilities. If you can’t trust yourself, how will you be able to trust anyone else?

Why it’s okay to trust

We built our society on trust. Every time you buy something, you trust that what you are buying does what it’s supposed to, that it meets its product description, that it won’t kill you. When you wake up in the morning, you trust that your internet will work, that your hot water is up and running, that your alarm went off at the right time.

Without trust, we isolate. If you trust things to make sure you get to work on time and to support your health, why not trust people? It’s a simple exercise of trial-and-error. Take baby steps. Test. Figure out who you can trust. More importantly, figure out why you can trust that person. And go from there.

When you should remain skeptical

I’m definitely not advocating to trust everyone, all the time, with everything in your life. You must remain skeptical. Remember this: the world has limited resources that we’re all competing for. When you go on vacation, you might not want to trust every person who walks up to you and tries to sell you something. When you’re walking down the street, you might not want to trust that everyone will stop at a red light and pay attention to pedestrians. There are many situations where we should pause for skepticism, test the waters, and decide whether the situation or person is trustworthy. Healthy skepticism, built over time, through trial and error, is important.

Next Week: Part 3 – Vanity

Start trusting more and see what happens. Really think about it. If someone burns you after taking my advice, take a step back and think about why that happened. What led you astray? Why? It’s all about learning. We will not succeed without trying.

Next time, I’ll be writing about a subject near and dear to my heart: Vanity. Yes, some might consider me vain, and I don’t think vanity is ALL bad. But there are some pain points that are worth exploring. See you then.

I will work with you to help you overcome any issues you have resolving conflicts in your life. Start reframing today.