Trust is an essential ingredient of any healthy relationship, whether personal or professional. As much as I’d like to say it’s okay to trust everyone we meet, the sad truth is, not everyone deserves our trust.
Have you ever found yourself wondering if someone you know is trustworthy or not? How do you know if they deserve your confidence?
Fortunately, there are some key indicators that can help you determine if someone is trustworthy or not.
In this article, I’ll lay out ten of them. Hopefully, they’ll help you know what to look out for and choose the right people to trust.
Let’s dive in!
Let’s begin with the most obvious marker of trustworthiness: honesty.
It goes without saying that people who lie don’t deserve our trust. It’s the ones who stay truthful, no matter how uncomfortable it is, who do.
Now here’s the tricky part – how do you know when someone is honest?
Generally, it’s a good idea to look at body language. Honest people tend to be comfortable making eye contact while speaking and use open and relaxed body language.
They reply quickly when asked a question and don’t feel the need to over-explain or embellish their point. Their story will typically remain the same, no matter how many times they tell it.
And one more thing – they are willing to admit mistakes.
Of course, these are not foolproof; I guess there really is no foolproof way to know. Ultimately, it comes down to your judgment and intuition.
Just like an honest person won’t tell you lies, they won’t pretend to be someone they’re not, either.
The great thing about authentic people is that they have integrity. They know exactly what they stand for, and they live life according to these values and beliefs, regardless of the pressure to “fall in line.”
Let me tell you the tale of my two old co-workers – one was always nice and pleasant, willing to go along with everything, and the other one was the opposite.
I don’t mean to say that that second friend was mean; she was just more honest and direct with her words. She was willing to show her good and bad sides, even if she rubbed some people the wrong way.
Curiously, I found that I trusted her more than the always-nice friend. I just connected better with her because I always felt like she was the real deal. And because she could open up and show her vulnerable side, we had more points of connection.
This leads me to my next point…
3) Trust in others
That willingness to be open and vulnerable? That’s a green flag.
Here’s the thing: if you’re a trustworthy person, you tend to trust others as well.
Because you take people’s confidence seriously, you tend to believe that they would do the same for you.
Trustworthy people don’t have time or energy for mind games and keeping up pretenses. They understand that trust is a two-way street and that for a relationship to work at the most basic level, both parties need to be able to trust each other.
Here’s a fascinating study about online gamers that seems to prove this point. It found that the players who were less likely to betray their partners in a game were the ones who were trusting and willing to rely on other players.
I think that’s an indicator that when you’re trustworthy, you tend to trust others more. Conversely, if you’re a sneaky character, you tend to think everyone else is, too!
So, if you ask questions and the person isn’t quite so forthcoming or open with their answers, it might not be a good idea to keep your distance for now.
While trust can be a gray area at times, here’s a foolproof way to check if someone deserves your trust.
Do they actually do what they say? Are their behavior and language consistent?
You see, when someone’s trustworthy, they won’t change their behavior depending on what suits them.
Their actions will match their words. Every single time.
Let’s say you have a friend who’s super nice to you when you’re in a group. But when it’s just the two of you, their whole demeanor changes, and they aren’t quite as friendly as you’d thought.
I hate to break the bad news to you, but that’s a red flag. That’s not someone you can count on.
5) Respect for boundaries
Another important marker for trustworthiness is the level of respect the person has for other people’s boundaries.
Boundaries are there to keep us safe. And when someone consistently violates them, it shows one thing – they don’t care about our sense of comfort and security.
Does that sound like someone you should welcome into your life? I don’t think so. I’d be very careful around somebody who tries to manipulate me or has no concern for my needs.
6) Willingness to compromise
In contrast, if they show you an ability to listen and compromise – that’s a good sign!
Being able to compromise means they know how to respect your boundaries. They won’t force what they want on you. Instead, they are willing to find a solution that feels comfortable for both of you.
This trait is especially helpful in professional settings, where people have to learn to solve problems together and rely on one another to get the work done.
The more willing a team member is to collaborate, the easier it becomes to trust them.
Self-control isn’t normally a topic that crops up when it comes to discussions about trust. But we really should be looking at it as an indicator.
A study shows this as well – apparently, people do use their perceptions of someone’s level of self-control to gauge their trustworthiness.
Think about this: when you’re entrusting your secrets to someone, you want them to be able to keep those in confidence, right?
It doesn’t bode well if that person seems to exhibit a lack of self-control. It doesn’t exactly build trust when you see them unable to hold back their impulses.
There’s this nagging doubt that whispers, if this person gets drunk or gets roped into sharing gossip, would they go blabbing my secrets around?
But if they show a good sense of self-discipline, you can feel more secure that they’ll respect your boundaries and keep your secrets safe.
Of course, even trustworthy people are not perfect. They will disappoint you at times, just like any other person.
But the key thing to look at is the way they own their mistakes.
Do they admit it when they’ve broken your trust? Do they take responsibility for their mistakes?
Here’s the truth: trust is a result of greater accountability. People who hold themselves accountable are more likely to be trusted because you know they will keep their word.
What I like about the idea of accountability is that it’s a form of internal motivation. When we hold ourselves accountable, that sense of ownership comes from within us, not from external factors like fear.
And for me, that’s a clear reflection of great values. It shows that we hold ourselves to a certain standard of behavior, and we don’t like letting people down. That attitude is certainly deserving of trust!
Is the person you’re dealing with a kind one? Do they have the capacity to put themselves in other people’s shoes and understand other perspectives?
One of my benchmarks for trusting a person is this: how kind are they? How do they react when things don’t go their way? How do they talk to someone they disagree with or is different from them?
I believe that empathy is necessary for a relationship to thrive. I don’t want to invest in someone who doesn’t treat others well.
That’s also why one of the tried and tested pieces of advice I hear a lot when it comes to getting to know a person is this – look at the way they treat the wait staff. That will tell you a lot about their character and if you should trust them.
It might be weird to think of gratitude as an indicator of trustworthiness, but it absolutely is.
You see, this boils down to respect. A grateful person values and respects the effort you give and won’t take anything for granted.
In my book, that’s someone I can trust. That’s someone who understands the importance of humility and has a sense of reciprocity in relationships.
Simply put, an attitude of gratitude is often a reflection of a person’s positive character, values, and behavior in relationships.
And there you have it – the key indicators of trustworthiness. As someone who’s been burned time and again, I now know better what to look out for before investing time and energy in the people I meet.
Now, I must say this again – these indicators aren’t always foolproof. You may need to use your judgment and intuition to determine if someone is trustworthy or not.
However, they can help you make more informed decisions and build stronger, more meaningful relationships with others.
So, the next time you’re trying to figure out if someone is trustworthy, remember these ten key indicators and use them as a guide. Good luck!