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How to Tell If Someone Is Worth Your Trust

How to Tell If Someone Is Worth Your Trust

Louise Delage. Remember her?

She was a 25-year-old social media star, who in 2016 gained over 50,000 likes in a couple of months with photos of herself at boat parties and exotic travel destinations. She seemed like a fun, free soul who was enjoying her life to the full – but the reality was very different. In fact, she was an alcoholic, and was actually being used as part of an anti-alcohol campaign created by French agency BETC.[1]

    The campaign, known as "Like My Addiction," was designed to raise awareness of alcoholism among young people. The daily images of Louise appearing to enjoy her life with a drink in hand was the perfect set up. People loved her social accounts, and no doubt many people began to dream of emulating her lifestyle. When the reveal came, her social media followers were made to realize that they had failed to spot that Louise was actually a sad, struggling alcoholic.

    It's an extreme example, but in the real world (as well as in the virtual world) we can easily be duped by people who are not what they first seem.

    Don't Let Your Bias Blind You to the Truth

    When meeting people for the first time, you're most likely to trust your instincts and judgements. However, this may not be the best way to proceed, as it's likely that you have some inherent biases.

    Neglect of probability bias – many people find probability to be a difficult concept to deal with. This leads them to make black or white decisions. In other words, they choose either 0 percent or 100 percent. The problem with this type of decision-making, is that most things (and people) aren't just day or night. In reality, they are a mixture of things. So, a person who you may regard as 100 percent good, may in fact, have a negative side that you overlook due to bias.[2]

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    Illusory-correlation bias – this can be described as our tendency to erroneously connect an action and an effect. For example, you see a news story about a shark attack at a beach you are due to visit. Although the shark attack is the first in decades at that location, you immediately decide not to swim in the sea during your holiday. The odds of being attacked by a shark are incredibly low, and in reality, millions of people swim safely in the sea every year. Therefore, by staying out of the water, you've allowed the reported shark attack to cause an illusory-correlation bias in your mind.[3]

    Biases can cause us to make faulty assessments of people. And this can be bad news for us.

    Making the Wrong Judgement Can Be Harmful to You

    Imagine that you interview someone to look after your young children for one night a week.

    The 20-something lady appears calm, confident and easygoing. She also has childcare qualifications. As the safety and well-being of your children are paramount, you ask the lady for references from previous childcare work she has done. As if expecting that question to come up, she reaches into her handbag and takes out an envelope which contains two handwritten letters. These appear to be genuine reference letters from two of her previous employers.

    As everything seems in order, and the lady appears qualified and friendly, you find yourself drawn to offering the part-time childcare role to her immediately. However, something inside stops you doing it. Instead, you say to the lady: "Thank you for your time today. I'll let you know tomorrow if we'd like you to start."

    After the lady has left, you decide to do a quick bit of online research using the person's name and address. What you discover horrifies you. Credible news stories state that the lady had both of her children taken from her by social services due to her maltreatment of them. She was also prosecuted for the offence, and had served several months in jail!

    Having discovered the truth about the lady, you rightly decline to offer her a position caring for your children. But just think how close you came to giving her the job. It's enough to give you nightmares.

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    As the above demonstrates, making the wrong judgement about a person can be bad news indeed.

    Use These Seven Tips to Decide Whether a Person Can Be Trusted

    Learning how to correctly determine if someone is trustworthy is easier than you may think. And to prove this to you, I've put together a list of seven simple tips for deciding whether a person should be trusted.

    1. Observe the person from different perspectives and in different situations.

    You don't want to judge a person too easily. By doing this, you won't be giving yourself enough time (or material) to form an accurate assessment of a person. Instead, try to observe the way a person behaves in different scenarios.

    For example, someone at work may seem warm, approachable and super-friendly. However, you may see a different side to them when they go out drinking with friends on a night. Instead of the amiable person you see at work, they may become boisterous, arrogant – or even aggressive.

    2. Analyze their behavior to see if it's consistent across different circumstances.

    As discussed above, people can show different sides to their personality depending upon the situation they are in. A reliable, trustworthy person is more likely to demonstrate consistent behavior than someone with something to hide.

    If you've ever watched those 'border control' TV programs, you'll notice a pattern. People with something to hide are often overly-friendly at first (when they are trying to smuggle something into a country), but when it appears they are about to get caught – they frequently express irritation and anger at the border control staff. An honest person is likely to show far less divergence in their emotions.

    3. Take time to discover the "whole picture" of a person.

    I'm sure you've heard the expression: Don't judge a book by its cover. Well, this is true not just for books – but for people too! You must take an adequate amount of time to reach a fair appraisal of a person.

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    As an example for you, remember a time when you moved into a new house or apartment. You may have introduced yourself to your neighbors, only to find that one of them seemed quite rude and abrupt. You took an instant dislike to them. But as future events would show, you were too hasty in your judgement. This particular neighbor turned out to be the most helpful. They received your mail, cleaned the entrance way to your properties – and even offered to look after your pets when you went on holiday. In hindsight, it appears they were just having a bad day when you first met them.

    4. See if they trust others.

    People who are easily suspicious of others, are the very same people you may not want to give your trust to.

    This was suggested by a recent study of the behavior of online video game players.[4] The study found that those who were happy to cooperate and rely on other players were less likely to double-cross their partners in a game.

    In other words, trust is a two-way street.

    5. Ask yourself how much you know how they think.

    Getting inside someone's head allows you to understand how they think and act. One way to do this is to listen closely to what they say. Our words often betray are true thoughts.

    Criminal investigators frequently use this trick. When interviewing a suspect, they ask lots of questions, including some that are not specific to the particular case. They do this to see whether a suspect will reveal more about themselves than they might wish to do. A guilty person may try very hard to hide the truth. But in their efforts to appear innocent, they can often trip themselves up.

    Once you discover a person's thought patterns, you'll be able to make a fair assessment of their trustworthiness.

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    6. Try to learn about their past.

    The person standing in front of you may look like an angel – but what do you really know about them?

    Before giving your trust to a person, it makes sense to learn about their past. Employers understand this well. Whenever they're hiring new staff, they're likely to have a rigorous recruitment process. This usually starts with a detailed look at a resume. If the resume fits the bill, then the candidate will be asked to come in for an interview (or series of interviews). The employer will probe the candidate about their qualifications and their work experience. If the candidate is lucky enough to be selected for the job, references will be required before any contract is signed.

    While you don't need to be this thorough when assessing a person, it definitely makes sense to be aware of their past.

    7. But don't strive to know 100 percent about a person.

    If you do this, then you'll likely to never reach the stage of deciding on their trustworthiness.

    Instead, aim to know a decent amount about a person. This may be 15 percent, 30 percent or even 50 percent. The exact percentage is unimportant. The key thing is to understand enough about a person to be confident in deciding whether they can be trusted. A good example of this, is when choosing an automotive technician. Their ad in the local newspaper may sound appealing, but do some research to see if their customers have been satisfied with their work.

    We all have trust issues from time-to-time. It's just human nature. However, if you follow the seven tips above, you can super-charge your people assessment skills. This can help you to match up with trustworthy people, and to avoid the dishonest and undependable.

    Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

    Reference

    More by this author

    Craig J Todd

    UK Writer who loves to use the power of words to inspire and motivate.

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    Published on October 30, 2020

    11 Essential Philosophy Books That Will Open Your Mind

    11 Essential Philosophy Books That Will Open Your Mind

    There are numerous ways to build your mindset, but none are as profound as reading philosophy books. Through these books, some of the greatest minds around ask questions and delve deep into thought.

    While there isn’t always a clear and distinct answer to the many questions of philosophy, the entire field is a gateway to a higher sense of self. It gets you to think about all manner of things.

    Below, we cover some of the essential philosophy books that are best for those who are just starting or looking to expand their mind.

    How To Choose a Good Philosophy Book

    Before getting to this list, we’ve researched ideal philosophy books to help you expand your mind.

    We’ve found that the best philosophy books excel in the following criteria:

    • Complexity – Philosophy isn’t a subject that you can’t dive into immediately and understand everything. The books that we selected are great for people making the first leap.
    • Viewpoint – With philosophy, in particular, the author’s views are more important than in your standard book. We want to ensure the viewpoints and thoughts being discussed still hold up to this day.
    • Open-mindedness – Philosophy is all about asking perplexing questions and unraveling the answer. You might not reach a conclusion in the end, but these books are designed to get you to think.
    • Culture – The last criterion is culture. A lot of these books come from early philosophers from centuries ago or possibly from recent years. These philosophy books should paint a picture of the culture.

    1. Meditations

      One that you’ll find on many of these types of lists is Meditations and for good reason. It’s the only document of its kind to ever be made. The book focuses on the private thoughts of the world’s most powerful man who advises himself revolving around making good on his responsibilities and the obligations of his position.

      We know enough about Marcus Aurelius to know that he was trained in stoic philosophy and practiced every night on a series of spirituality exercises. These exercises were designed to make him humble, patient, empathetic, generous, and strong in the face of whatever problem he had to face off. And he faced plenty of problems since he was basically the emperor of roughly a third of the planet.

      All of that is poured into this book, and you are bound to remember a line or more that will be applicable in your life. It’s a philosophy book staple.

      Buy Meditations here.

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      2. Letters From a Stoic

        Similar to Marcus Aurelius, Seneca was another powerful man in Rome. He was a brilliant writer at the time and was the kind of guy to give great advice to his most trusted friends. Fortunately, much of his advice comes in letters, and those letters happen to be in this book. The letters themselves provided advice on dealing with grief, wealth, poverty, success, failure, education, and more.

        While Seneca was a stoic, he has a more practical approach and has borrowed from other schools of thought for his advice. As he said when he was alive, “I don’t care about the author if the line is good.” Similar to Meditations, there are several brilliant lines and advice that are still relevant to this day.

        Buy “Letters From a Stoic” here.

        3. Nicomachean Ethics

          Aristotle was a famous Greek philosopher at the time with profound knowledge. He’s named after a form of logic as well called Aristotelian logic. Through this book, Aristotle writes about the root of all Aristotelian ethics. In other words, this book contains the moral ideas that form a base for pretty much all of western civilization.

          Buy “Nicomachean Ethics” here.

          4. Beyond Good & Evil

            Friedrich Nietzsche played a big role in the philosophical world. He was one of the leading philosophers of the existential movement, and it all came through this particular book. He is a brilliant mind. However, the issue with a lot of his work is that it’s all written in German.

            Fortunately, this book is one of the slightly more accessible ones since it’s translated. Within the book, he breaks down the paradoxes of conventional understandings of morality. By doing this, he sets the stage for a lot of the 20th-century thought process that followed.

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            Buy “Beyond Good & Evil” here.

            5. Meditations on First Philosophy

              In Meditations on First Philosophy, René Descartes breaks his book down into six meditations. The book takes a journalistic style that is structured much like a six-day course of meditation. On day one, he gives instructions on discarding all belief in things that are not guaranteed. After that, he tries to establish what can be known for sure. Similar to Meditations, this is a staple and influential philosophical text that you can pick up.

              Buy “Meditations on First Philosophy” here.

              6. Ethics

                Written by Benedict de Spinoza, this came at a time during the Age of Enlightenment. Enlightenment was a movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries and with that, many schools of thought emerged and were presented through books.

                Out of the many influential philosophy books published back then, Ethics dominated during this period as it discussed the basis of rationalism. Even though we’ve developed further beyond that, Ethics can introduce new ways of thinking from this particular school of thought.

                Buy “Ethics” here.

                7. Critique of Pure Reason

                  Immanuel Kant is another great philosopher who brought together two of history’s biggest opposing schools of thought into a single book. Those schools being rational thought and empirical experiential knowledge—knowledge gained through experience.

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                  In Critique of Pure Reason, Kant explores human reason and then works to establish its illusions and get down to core constituents. Overall, you can learn more about human behavior and thought processes and thus, open your mind more to how you think and process everything around you.

                  Buy “Critique of Pure Reason” here.

                  8. On the Genealogy of Morals

                    Another piece of work from Nietzsche that is accessible to us is On the Genealogy of Morals. According to Nietzsche, the purpose of this book is to call attention to his previous writings. That said, it does more than that so you don’t need to worry so much about reading his other books.

                    In this book, he expands on the cryptic aphorisms that he brings up in Beyond Good and Evil and offers a discussion or morality in a work that is more accessible than a lot of his previous work.

                    Buy “On the Genealogy of Morals” here.

                    9. Everything Is F*cked

                      The only book on this list that’s been written in the past few years, this book by Mark Manson aims to explain why we all need hope while also accepting that hope can often lead us to ruin too.

                      While many of the books on this list are all practical, this one is the most realistic one since not even the greatest of philosophical minds could predict things like technology, Twitter, and how our political world has shaped.

                      Manson delivers a profound book that taps into the minds of our ancestral philosophers, such as Plato, Nietzsche, and Tom Waits, and digs deep into various topics and how all of it is connected—religion and politics, our relationship with money, entertainment, and the internet.

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                      Overall, this book serves as a challenge to all of us—a challenge to be more honest with ourselves and connect with the world in a way we’ve never tried before.

                      Buy “Everything Is F*cked” here.

                      10. Reasons and Persons

                        One of the most challenging philosophy books to read on this list, Reasons and Persons will send you on quite the trip. Through a lot of painstaking logic, Derek Parfit shows us some unique perspectives on self-interest, personhood, and whether our actions are good or evil.

                        Considered by many to be an important psychological text around the 20th century, the arguments made about those topics will open your mind to a brand new way of thinking.

                        Buy “Reasons and Persons” here.

                        11. The Republic of Plato

                          Written by Plato himself, this book is the origin of political science and offers a brilliant critique of government. As you would expect, the critique is still important today. If you’re looking to understand the inner thoughts of Plato, this is one of the best books around.

                          Buy “The Republic of Plato” here.

                          Final Thoughts

                          Philosophy books take a while to digest as they provide profound knowledge and leave you with many questions. With many of these philosophy books, you need to take your time with them, and you might have to read through them a few times as well. And with every read, your mind will only expand.

                          More Books to Open Your Mind

                          Featured photo credit: Laura Chouette via unsplash.com

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