This blog post was featured in the Huffington Post on February 20, 2017.
How do you know whether or not you can trust someone? Usually we test them: We give them an assignment or a loan and wait to see what the future brings. This method might work but might turn out to be costly too.
What else can you do? Many people think you can trust someone you have known for many years, using the past experiences to gauge whether they are trustworthy. This also can be misleading, though. There are people I have known for fifteen years, and they were trustworthy all that time; now, however, I would not even loan them a dollar. What has changed?
Trustworthiness is not in how a person speaks, or the “vibes” you get from him or her. Those factors can be misleading. There are conmen who seem like the most trustworthy people on earth. Hollywood street wisdom says that if someone tells you, “trust me,” that’s the best sign that you should be extremely careful—they are already putting their hand in your pocket.
How can you tell, up front, without additional testing, whether to trust someone or not?
Well, what is trust?
I suggest to you that you can trust people who share your interests. In other words, the people with whom you have common interests. The moment there is no common interest—regardless of how long you have known someone and how trustworthy they have been in the past—if your interests are no longer shared, you should not trust them. Be careful. The past is not the present. In the past you had common interests, but now you do not.
The reverse is also true. Perhaps in the past you had conflicting interests, so you each had to watch your backs. But now the situation has changed and you have common interests. Trust should be alive.
Trust exists when there are common interests. It might exist without common interest, with people who are spiritual or altruistic, but that is not business. Even in these instances, I suggest that you look for what is motivating the other person. There is no smoke without fire, so look for the fire. What is driving the other person, and does it fit your interests or not?