Why It’s Hard To Trust People

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.

Trust by Erin Ashley
via Imagekind

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.

Trust by Mike Polo
via Imagekind

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. 😉

24 thoughts on “Why It’s Hard To Trust People”

  1. Mitch,
    It’s hard to trust people because they all have their own agenda and most often their agenda doesn’t not include your product, your business, your career or your feelings.

    It all depends upon how high you are on their totem pole and most times we find ourselves at the very bottom, because they occupy the first ten spots!

    Unless we benefit them, we don’t even feature. THEN it’s a matter of how much benefit do we have to them. The more benefit, the more risk they are prepared to take, but TRUST? Um, no! No matter what we have to offer at whatever price and benefit, even though they might say that they trust us, they don’t!


    1. Althea, you have a way of getting to the point. Trust is a tough one long term. I know it’s less than 10 people that I trust with my life, and trust overall. I need to get even more stingy on my trust after getting burned a couple of times in my business. You’re right, though, it does always come down to agenda, and it’s too bad.

  2. Mitch, first off, that little puppy is adorable 😀

    I like your examples of trust, though I’m not sure the situation regarding that guest post on my blog is a perfect analogy. Regarding the situation you said, “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.”

    That actually IS what the author had initially wanted to use, if you recall the snippet of the email that I copied and pasted on that post. And I don’t appreciate you implying otherwise. When I suggested the new title to him (which is very similar to the one I ended up using), he was very gung ho about it. He could have said, “Nah, I don’t like that” and I wouldn’t have published the post and he would have submitted it somewhere else. Life goes on.

    Also, I didn’t have to “trust” him that he would write a good post. He just submitted the post to me and asked if I’d publish it. There wasn’t any need for trust there.

    So maybe now the question is do I trust YOU now that I think you didn’t get the story quite right?

    Of course! This is blogging! It’s not an exact science. Stuff just gets lost in translation over the blogosphere. I would totally publish another one of Tito’s guest posts. Until I see a video on YouTube of someone burning an effigy of me, they’re not going to lose my trust too fast.

    It’s not like I’m looking for godparents for my unborn children when I’m reading people’s blogs or deciding whether I should publish someone’s article on my blog.

    I make a living blogging, but sometimes I feel people take this stuff way too seriously.

    Regarding the title of the guest post in question, I still don’t think it’s misleading, as there’s nothing in the title that isn’t in the post itself, as I explained at length in response to one of your comments. Yes, the title of that post was designed to get people to read it. So what? I needed to draw people in to read the post because I felt that the issue Tito brought up needed to be discussed by a wider audience than otherwise would have seen it.

    If a title is misleading then yes, it’s bad. But do you hate Star Wars because there were no wars between stars? Of course not. Come on.

    As far as the title being inflammatory, you need to remember to take it in context. Tito essentially says that he doesn’t want crappy comments on his blog. That’s the context of “Your comments suck and I don’t want them.”

    If you don’t like the title of the post because you think it’s inflammatory or offensive, fine. That of course is your prerogative. But I have issue with you implying it’s an inaccurate title or that Tito was ignorant of what I was doing with the title.

    1. Hi Tristan, glad to have you here.

      Let’s get some things cleared up, if I may. One, I didn’t say the title was misleading; you might have missed this line: “The title in the end was exactly what the post was about, so it hit it on the nail.” There’s a point in the comments where you and Tito don’t necessarily agree on the topic of the title. I backed away at that point because at that point it really was between the two of you. As for the title itself, well, we both know I didn’t like it, and I didn’t really like the post either; that it’s still on my mind a couple of weeks later either says it was pretty powerful or that I just can’t let go.

      Still, y’all had to trust each other; that’s how I see it. I’ve had few guest posts on this blog because I need to feel really comfortable with someone to ask them to write one, and that’s actually how I handle it most of the time here, I ask people to write something. Not sure if you ever saw my post about controversy, and how people have to be ready for it if it comes, or if they go courting it. Depending on how one puts forth their thoughts, they’re trusting that some people will get it and hoping that the rest will at least support their having the right to say it. But whether the post or the title is controversial, it still opens up the creator to the question of whether people trust them, either because they’re being honest or mean or stupid. As Althea said, it’s about agenda and how high others are on your totem pole.

      And it was only one paragraph out of almost 1,200 words for me. lol

  3. Hi Mitch

    Trust is a BIG issue isn’t it? I will only have people I trust GP on my blog. So far I have had one LOL Not saying I don’t trust others but I have to know people well before they can sit amongst the lavenders and write relevant helpful information for my readers.

    Have a couple of people in mind, but it just hasn’t happened yet. And I have just done my first product review that isn’t about my sourced lavender products. I deliberately didn’t become an affiliate yet as I wanted to do my review and there not be any questions about being paid etc.

    Although my regular readers trust that I will be honest I also wanted new readers to know that it was an even-handed review that they too could trust. Just what I felt comfortable with this time round.

    I think it is so easy to lose trust and I have to admit there are some blogs I no longer visit because I now don’t trust a lot of the misinformation being written on those sites. Others may still think those bloggers are wonderful, but I’ll keep being true to my own values.

    Something as simple as a person having a dofollow blog and then changing to nofollow but not telling their readers! Kudos to Alex who told us when he was changing to nofollow. I still visit his site and comment as it makes no difference to me.

    Changing and not saying; that’s dishonest to me and yes the blog owner can do what they like but please don’t mislead people. Trust quickly goes when actions don’t equate to words in my book anyway.

    Patricia Perth Australia

    1. Good stuff, Pat. It’s definitely hard to know who or what to trust, and it’s worse when you’ve trusted someone for a long time and suddenly they change up on you. But you know, since we can’t go around without interacting with others, sometimes we just have to trust our own instincts and go with the crowd until someone shows us a different side of themselves. To me, it’s one reason we write our blogs, so hopefully build up a community where at least the majority will talk about us in a positive light, which always helps to build up trust.

  4. I would like to trust people, but my experience thought me that it’s better to trust my instinct. The past week i had a lot of issues caused by the fact that I trusted someone’s experience instead of mine.

    From now on I’ll be consulting people, but I’ll take the final decision.

    1. That’s a smart move to take, Mia. We always have to trust our own judgment first.

  5. Interesting point about trust and about sale people (my favorite topic). Every time I hire a sales manager, sales are dropping like crazy. However, I think we should trust each other and be honest with ourselves and everybody around us.

    1. I hear you on that one, Carl. Kind of like a blog post I read recently on Copyblogger where the author was saying he went to a lot of people for advice, put it into play, and suddenly he lost all traffic and sales. Sometimes you have to trust yourself more.

  6. Trust! Such a small word for such a LARGE commodity!

    Trust is something that we are born with but lose along the way, because we trusted someone and got burned. The hurt that it caused, hardened our heart to that person. As we grew, we continued to trust others, but again the hurt. The hurt just kept coming until finally, in adulthood, we find that there are more people that we DON’T trust than those we do!

    Lack of trust is a learned skill and is borne of pain and sorrow, yet most of us offer a certain measure of trust to some people because we learn to read traits and/or actions in people that we recognize as those that preceded hurt in the past.

    Trust makes us vulnerable and when it is abused, we feel exposed, naked and alone, but one cannot judge the action alone – one must assess the INTENT. Was the intent to harm you (as in stupid action, innocent intent)? Or was the person sweet as pie to your face and then knifed you in the back (innocent action, malicious intent)?

    Hence, what follows loss of trust, is usually either forgiveness or resentment – forgiveness if the intent was not malicious and resentment if it was. Those who have been hurt deeply and repeatedly in life, usually shut themselves off, in an attempt to protect themselves from further hurt and for this reason, there is more resentment than forgiveness in the world, today.

    Sometimes bridges can be built over hurtful situations and although the relationship continues (whether it is a marriage, a friendship or even a blog) more often the trust never returns. Now the parties view each other through cautious eyes, watching and waiting for signs of possible hurt, so that they can quickly bind their hearts in layers of reasons, stories and excuses, so as not to be hurt again.

    As far as the blog comment is concerned: Anyone who places themselves on the Internet, is open to opinion and let’s face it… we can’t please all of the people all of the time. Some people don’t read the same message into the written word that the author intended and others are just born nasty and will read ill intent into everything.

    My advice is to write with good intentions – whether the topic be contentious or not – and leave the opinions to others. Then allow them the right to those opinions, but don’t allow them to destroy your blog – it IS, after all YOUR blog and others must respect this.

    1. Such wise words from such a wise lady. 😉 It’s the kind of thing you’ve built your career on, and it’s good advice. I often say here that people have to write what they feel and not necessarily for anyone else. I tend to believe if one does the first then the second automatically becomes true. Everyone has an audience, and if one decides to join the blogging community, they’ll find that audience, and that audience will find them.

  7. Our attitude toward trust depends on our experiences. I have a lot of negative experiences, but I do not allow them to influence me. I trust till I am proved otherwise. It works most of the time.

    1. Rummuser, I think your judgment would make it hard to allow yourself to trust the wrong people too often.

  8. Hello Mitch,

    Why is it hard to trust other people?

    I think, it’s hard to trust other people because we are born selfish and we all know that, so we tend to think that every other men wants to take our place, also since we invented money and made them rule the way we live, we want to have more then others, and this tend to make us be suspicious of one an other.

    Now, do I trust you? Well, I can’t say I know you that well that I would trust my life with you, but I do trust you since everything you said or did were genuine and you never did something in order to foul or deceive me.
    I think you would seem a trustworthy man, to anyone who first comes to your blog.

    1. Thanks Alex, but I have to say that I’m not sure we’re born selfish. We’re definitely born to try to survive, and I’m thinking that’s not quite being selfish. What there are, though, are those people who are willing to step on and over many people to achieve whatever they wish. It’s because of those people that we’re hesitant to trust overall, and that’s too bad.

  9. Alex, with respect, I disagree with your statement that we are born selfish. We are born accepting, innocent and trusting. Life’s experiences make us selfish, untrusting and cynical, but that said, you, like the rest of us are entitled to your opinion and without differing opinions, we would all be boringly the same! 🙂

    I KNOW that if I was drowing, Mitch would throw me a lifeline so I gues I could say that I trust him with my life.

    1. I kind of skipped the whole childhood step :). So we might be good at first and cuddly but life will, sooner or later, gives us a wake up call that will awake this traits in us.

      Well, I am sure that anyone would throw you a lifeline, but I didn’t mean it literally (although, I suspect you alrady knew that)

  10. The window salesman’s comment that “twelve million people can’t be wrong” is another example of misdirection. Twelve million people can be lied to and fooled, one person at a time. I walked past a sign at the mall just yesterday; it was for a men’s clothing store and said “EVERYTHING 1/2 Off!” And then, of course, in tiny letters underneath, it listed the exceptions. But when did “everything” stop meaning everything? Why do we have to anticipate exceptions and loopholes? I think most people can be trusted, but the few who can’t change the game for everyone.

    1. Good stuff Charles. I was reading a story on cnn.com the other day where they were talking about politicians openly lying these days and not even worrying about it because they say they’re just trying for effect and not trying to be accurate. Although it’s pretty much always been that way, having them now telling you that they know they’re making stuff up makes me trust all politicians even less. It’s no wonder the American public has no idea what’s going on and keeps voting for the wrong people.

  11. Does anyone here study “words” and what they mean? I wonder if sense “trust” and “truth” start out with the same letters they are words that are somehow connected?

    Trust has been something of a catch-22 for me. If you trust the wrong people – and I have certainly done that more times than I care to admit – you are in trouble. Likewise, if you fail to trust the right people – and I am guilty of that as well – you are in trouble.

    However, what I have learned in recent years when it comes to trust, you can exercise wisdom in collaboration with trust. That means you don’t always need to be an “open book” read by everyone. You can purpose in your mind to always “guard your heart.”

    Lamar Morgan

    1. Wow, a Lamar sighting; welcome Lamar!

      You’re exactly right, being too much of an open book at all times leaves you open to people taking advantage of you. I always have my shields up until I feel I can trust someone. It’s a great protective mechanism, as well as helps keep me focused and balanced so I don’t overreact to things if I don’t get the feedback I’m expecting, no matter what it is. I think I’ve chosen well when it comes to my personal life; sometimes I’m a bit too trusting when it comes to my business and that’s where I’ve gotten burnt, and where I really need to realize, as I stated in this article, that sometimes you just can’t trust people.

  12. I like it when you said blogging gives you the chance to let other people trust. While you gain the trust of others, you also gain peoples jealousy., and they are just there waiting to take advantage of you.

    1. Interesting perspective, Maxine. I don’t often think about people being jealous of others, yet I know it’s a major thing. Great insight.

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