We all want to be trusted. But there are traits that can make a person untrustworthy.
One of those traits is gossip. I’ve done this, and maybe you have too. You’ve shared a concern about another person with someone as a way to connect.
“Hey, did you notice she’s been showing up late a lot, and even missing a day every few weeks. I think there must be something up with her health. She’s not looking very good.”
It might seem harmless, or even caring. But it repels. Why? Because if you’re gossiping about that person behind their back, the person hearing your gossip is going to wonder what you say about them when they’re not around.
We Need Trust to Thrive
Trust is essential to strong relationships. We all need to work at being trustworthy to thrive in our relationships at home, work and in the communities we’re a part of.
In his book, The Trust Edge: How Top Leaders Can Foster Results, Deeper Relationships, and a Stronger Bottom Line, author David Horsager, identifies 7 traits that can make us untrustworthy. He says these traits are like a people repellent. He also identifies the traits that invite trust, and calls these “magnetic traits.”
Here are the 7 traits that repel, and the corresponding antidotes that will make us more trustworthy:
1. Being Thankless
This one is also kills a good mood and will prevent you from being happy. Instead of being thankless, be grateful and practice saying “thank you” to people each day by looking for positive things to comment on. Don’t let the fact that they don’t deserve a thanks deter you. Jesus taught us to take it up a step, by even blessing those who curse us (Matthew 5:44-45).
2. Talking without Listening
We all want to be heard. I recently offered my time and talent at a free clinic. I provided coaching to people who couldn’t afford it. Almost every person I say had a story they wanted to tell. For many people, it was the first time they’d told that story. They didn’t think they could trust anyone with it. But because I offered to listen, they felt safe. To be trustworthy, listen more.
3. Talking About People
I raised the problem with gossip earlier. Instead of talking about people, talk about ideas, and make sure you use your listening skills as much as your talking skills. You might talk with our family about what to do on your next vacation. Planning a vacation can produce more happiness than actually taking one. Talk with our coworkers about your company’s future, and how you each can contribute to its success. Talk with your neighbors about what you could do to make the neighborhood a safer place for kids.
4. Constantly Complaining
I’ve written about the risks of constant complaining. For one, it’ll pull down your mood, and the mood of people around you. Instead of complaining, acknowledge the negative, but notice and give time to discussing and being grateful for the positive side of things. Too much complaining will train our brain to only see the negative side of life.
5. Being Pessimistic
People want to hope, unless they’ve given up on hope. So, if you enter a discussion with an attitude that squashes hope with pessimism, the common reaction from people will be to distrust you. People tend to be drawn to those who are optimistic. This is why politicians often adopt themes of hope and change, promising to make our country or community great again. However, optimism alone won’t invite trust from wise people. Be sure to offer additional reasons to trust to people who are smart enough to avoid being suckered by someone whose only offering a positive outlook.
If you’re a person who puts people down to make yourself feel good, think again. Finding fault doesn’t make friends. Fearing criticism, people aren’t going to trust you with information you might use against them. Instead, wish the best for people, offer encouragement and belief in their ability to succeed.
Some people are inclined to tell tall tales, also known as fish stories. If you’re known for stretching the truth, after a while people aren’t going to believe you. Don’t forget the stories of the boy who cried wolf. Be honest, and real when telling your story, and people will more likely trust you.
Which of these traits do you struggle with the most. Are you brave enough to confess? Mine is talking about people. Leave a comment below, if you’re brave.