How to know when you can trust someone: 3 ways

Do you ever have the feeling you can’t trust someone but you’re not sure why? Something about that person makes you close up and refuse to share.

Or perhaps you’re never sure whether plans with them will materialize because they’re unreliable. I’ve had friends like that.

Brene Brown started researching the topic when her daughter experienced a betrayal at school.

She told a couple of friends a secret which they then proceeded to spread around the classroom. The daughter proclaimed she would never trust anyone again.

Searching for a definition, Brown discovered this one: “Trust is choosing to make something important to you, vulnerable to the actions of someone else.”

Trust is choosing to make something that's important to you, vulnerable to the actions of someone else. Click To Tweet

And its opposite she described this way: “Distrust is when what I have shared with you as important to me, is not safe with you.”

Maybe you’ve experienced the pain of sharing important information with unsafe people and having them betray you.

To help you avoid that pain in future, here are 3 ways to determine whether you can trust someone.

1. Trust people who are there for you.

It takes time to count on someone and trust is built on a history together.

If someone is there for you when times are good, but disappear when you’re going through something hard, you lose trust in them.

Have you had friends who dismiss you or change the subject when you’re not relentlessly positive and upbeat? Have they abandoned ship when you’re going through a crisis?

Trustworthy friends show up to your father’s funeral even when they didn’t know him well. They’re willing to inconvenience themselves to support you.

Comfort is not the first priority in their relationship with you. They show up even when it’s not easy and you’re not as much fun to be around.

2. Trust people who take responsibility.

We’re all human and we all make mistakes. People you can trust own up to their mistakes.

They apologize for their wrongdoing and try to make amends. They don’t expect you to get over things too quickly.

They’re willing to wait until you’re ready to let them in again. They know an apology is not enough. It has to be backed up with a sincere desire to return to your good graces.

That might mean making some changes. Again, they are willing to sacrifice comfort to keep your trust.

A husband, for instance, who has an affair might allow his wife to check his texts until she feels ready to trust him again.

It’s his way of showing he’s willing to do what it takes to make her feel safe.

3. And who are vulnerable.

You can trust people who share things with you that make them vulnerable. That’s why it feels safer to share our own imperfections with someone who’s already told us theirs.

Trustworthy people don’t need to appear like they have it all together all the time. They are more interested in connecting with you than presenting an image of perfection.

Trustworthy people don't need to appear like they have it all together all the time. Click To Tweet

Vulnerable people are willing to ask for help. They know the art of give and take and are willing to receive from you when they need it.

It’s hard to trust people who only want to give and never receive. It starts to feel like a power play, as if they enjoy feeling strong when you are weak.

In her research, Brown quantified the elements of trust, using the acronym BRAVING.

This helps you understand why you mistrust a certain person when the feeling is so hard to define.

You can also use the metric on yourself to ensure you are someone people can trust!


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