Why It’s Hard To Trust People
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Apr 17, 2011
On this blog and my business blog, I talk about the subject of “trust” often. It seems that I’ve referenced the word 118 times on this blog, 136 on my other blog. Specific blog topics on the two blogs have ranged from my asking What Does It Take To Obtain Trust, talking about When Trust Is Violated, Figuring Out Who You Can Trust, and one article I wrote where I first announced that the three main virtues I judge every person I meet by are loyalty, trustworthiness and honesty.
In this particular case I’m going to revisit a subject I brought up in a post I wrote here back in January titled Why We Don’t Trust Sales People. The quick update is that this guy representing a store we go to often (didn’t work at the store, but the store, BJ’s Warehouse, contracted with these people to offer something special to their customers), sold us a picture window for our living room that, in my opinion, wasn’t giving what he’d said it would give us. Then, 10 days later when he came by to inspect it, I told him I wasn’t sure it was doing what he said it would, to which he replied 12 million people can’t be wrong.
First, the update. The window looks good; I’ll give that to everyone. My wife says she thinks it’s stopped all the leaking we had; I still have grave doubts about that. Maybe air isn’t getting in but the window still gets cold right now, which means it radiates cool air into the house. We had one very weird day last week when the temperature suddenly shot up to 85, breaking a record, before falling back into the 50’s the next day, and on that day the living room was really hot; the new window was supposed to stop that as well.
Then there was this thing about a rebate we were supposed to be getting back. This guy told my wife that she’d be getting a check. Then he told her it would come back through her taxes. I told her it wouldn’t come back through her taxes because one, we’re still paying on some back taxes anything that came would be absorbed into it, and two, he said it would be $900 and I said there’s no way that much would show up. I suggested to her that she tell him she wanted a check from the company, since that’s what he initially told her.
On that day she told him that, and supposedly he went to make a phone call and told her that a check would be coming within a couple of weeks. Fast forward to now. Not only did she never get a check from the company but she could never get this guy to call back from the few times she tried to reach him after that. And when taxes were done, not only did the amount end up being less than half of what he’d stated but I was right, it immediately went to our back taxes. She felt demoralized, and I didn’t feel vindicated in being correct; to me, it really wasn’t a win in any scenario.
Why is it hard to trust people? Because of things like this, where someone sells you a bill of goods that you might not know how to check up front and then end up with something that didn’t give you what was promised later on. Why do many of us have our Spidey senses up all the time? Because we have this fear of being scammed by someone else and none of us wants to be made to feel like a fool.
In my mind, one of the best things about blogging is that it gives you an opportunity to try to build people’s trust in you. By being open and honest over the course of time, your hope is that people will come to respect you, and thus if you have something you want to market or a service you provide, people will look your way because you’ve established yourself and shown people what you’re all about. You’re now one of the most trusted authorities because of your social media presence, right?
Unfortunately, not even close. As I touched upon in my recent post asking if anyone’s listening to you on Twitter, the only people that might trust you are those people who know about you, and in the scheme of things, for most of us it’s not that many people. For someone like me as a for instance, blog is ranked well, over 1,000 posts, put myself out there for the world to see, but with under 200 RSS subscribers and a relatively small cadre of blog comments on a consistent basis what would make someone who’s not a consistent visitor here decide to trust me? For that matter, think about your own circumstance; what do you think could compel people to trust you?
I thought about this a little bit when there was a brief tet-a-tet going on at Tristan’s blog based on a guest post with a title that was, well, kind of inflammatory. Now, the post turned out to be kind of inflammatory as well, but it turns out that the post author hadn’t initially wanted to use that as the title. The title in the end was exactly what the post was about, so it hit it on the nail, but in my mind it brought up this thing about trust once again. I mean, Tristan had to trust the guy to write a post that he thought would be good. The guy had to trust Tristan that the title would be good. In the end I’m not sure that both guys got exactly what they wanted, but each guy got something out of it. But do they specifically trust each other anymore?
Frankly, as I commented there, I’d have never written the post to begin with and certainly didn’t like the implication of the post, but at the same time I’m not sure I would have wanted someone to rewrite my topic line either. I wrote a post on one of my other blogs called I Hate Syracuse.com, where I lamented the comments that newspapers and news sources online allow these days. I then had a long conversation with someone from that website who said he didn’t like the title or the implication, though he agreed with me in principle as to why they allow what they do. I said my title was no different than what newspapers have done for years and he said it was in their best interest to get people to the story, but mine seemed misleading since I didn’t actually hate the entire site. I was thinking that was “pot calling kettle black”, and then thought about the trust issue overall once more. I stuck with my title, as you can see, and they’ve stuck with the trash comments they allow.
Why is it hard to trust people? Probably because we don’t always trust ourselves to make the right decisions either. At least that’s my thought on things, as I think about all the people we’ve allowed into our home over the last 10 years that have given us a bill of goods that haven’t panned out. But maybe I’m being a bit cynical on this Sunday morning; not sure. But if anyone has a different viewpoint on it all, I’d love to hear it. And while you’re at it, if you’ve been coming to this blog for awhile I’d like to know if you trust what I’ve said in the past and why; if not, I’d like to know that as well. And we’ll still be friends afterwards; trust me. 😉