CAN YOU TRUST?
When you go to a restaurant, you expect to have a meal that has been prepared in a hygienic manner. You don’t ask the pilot to show you his license when you board a plane. You assume that he is certified to fly you safely. You don’t ask for papers to confirm that the plane has had regular services, and it is safe to fly. The taxi driver waits for you holding up a piece of paper with your name written on it. You follow him to the parking lot and expect that he has a valid driving license, and he is an authentic taxi driver.
Imagine attending your doctor’s surgery one day. “What can I do for you today?” the doctor asks. “Oh, before we start, can you show me your certificate?” you reply. Of course, that does not happen under normal circumstances. You don’t ask your doctor or dentist to show you his medical certificate before treating you. It’s all to do with trust.
Your child jumps on you. You hold her up, throw her up several times and even turn her upside down. She smiles with pleasure and urges you, “Again, dad.” Then she sits on your laps as you tell her stories. She doesn’t argue. After all you are her parent. She doesn’t have to read any book about trust. She probably even doesn’t know the true meaning of, and what it takes to trust. But she trusts you anyway. She trusts her parents to take a good care of her, to love and protect her.
Someone whom you believe not to like you invited you to a dinner. Would you accept the invitation or would you find excuses to turn him down? What about when you have just started a job? One of your new colleagues smiled at you when you entered the office. She even made you a cup of tea with biscuits. Within minutes, she told you everything about everybody. The other colleague gave only a brief smile. She talked a little but simply concentrated on what she was doing. Which of these two colleagues would you trust?
Trust is an important attribute in our life as human beings. As a matter of fact, it is fundamental to the human web. It is the strand that knits together the fabric of what we know and recognise as society. Good relationships are based on trust. Trust goes beyond relationships between two persons or among family members. It goes beyond racial, religious or ethnic bounds.
As a growing child, I saw the world as a beautiful place. I was surrounded by families and friends that showed nothing but love and care. Now grown up, I marvel at what people do to their fellow human beings. I could not understand how people who once lived together and did everything together suddenly became enemies, burning neighbours’ houses, slaughtering their children and causing many untold havocs. I see the trust I once had in my fellow human beings eroding on a daily basis. The world no more looks like the one I was born into. It gets worse everyday. Then I ask myself. “Can I really trust anyone? Can I trust people?”
One day, my friend visited me. “Did you know that Tom and Philippa are going through a divorce?” he asked. “Oh!” I replied. “He told me to keep it secret,” he continued, “but I believe that I must tell you since Tom is our friend.” “Oh!” I replied again. It is true that Tom is our mutual friend. As a matter of fact, I knew about Tom and Philippa’s struggle with their marriage. But Tom told me to keep it to myself, just like he told our friend, Franklin. He trusted us with his secret.
What does it really mean to trust? According to the Cambridge Dictionary, this means “to believe that someone is good and honest and will not harm you, or that something is safe and reliable.” The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “to believe in the reliability, truth, or ability of” the person. Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary defines trust simply as “belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.” Trust thus encompasses an assured reliance on someone including his character, truth, strength and ability to keep one’s secret. It is that duty that is created by trust that a person keeps to be deemed trustworthy.
Some people trust easily. But for some other people, trust can be an enigma. There are many reasons while people may find it hard to trust or not to trust at all. When you have been hurt or disappointed by people you have once trusted, you don’t want to trust again. This cannot be more true than in relationship situations, business transactions, political leaders, sports teams, etc. If you were a woman who had suffered an abusive relationship you would fear to trust another man with your love. The reality is that, as long as we live, we are going to be in situations when we will have to decide whether to trust or not to trust.
We can make better choices about who and when to trust by trying the following principles:
Give Yourself Time to Think. Avoid making important decisions on impulse. It is always best to step back and give yourself time to consider all the aspects of the decision you are about to make. Think of the benefits but also consider what is at stake. You may need to do your own investigations about the person and seek the opinion of a friend with trusted judgment.
Beware of the Smooth Operators. These are people with sweet tongue. They can talk you into doing anything. They are the typical hard sellers who will want you to trust that you have got a good bargain. They may even make it look like what you are about to buy is scarce, just to lure you. Similarly, someone who wants to form a relationship with you may appear to be the nicest person on earth.
Beware of Fast Movers. If you have just met someone and, straightaway, he wants to be your best friend or lover, you need to be careful. Take your time to know the person well before committing yourself. Better to have a few friends that you can trust than lots of untrustworthy ones.
Probe into the person. What is this person really about? Does he want you for his own selfish benefit? Some people want to form a relationship with you for what they want to gain. They don’t care about what you gain or lose in forming that relationship. They are good at projecting false images of themselves. They may even flatter you to make you feel good. You need to ask yourself, Is this person really what he seems to be? Can we live together? Have we got common values? From talking to him, does he sound like someone who could keep a secret? What is his past like? Is he always criticising people? Is he contemptuous of other people? Has he got close friends or family? Does he like to help people? These are some of the questions that are worth asking yourself to enable you look beyond the superficial appearance of the person and discover his true nature to decide whether you can trust him.
Your Gut Feeling. You may feel an instant connection with somebody. You can’t ignore your emotions. But be cautious. Don’t make that the sole reason for your decision to trust. Your emotion can cloud your judgment. Take other factors into consideration as well.
In the world that we live, there is always going to be people who would hurt us. We can’t but form relationships. We just have to be more careful about who we trust.