Ever wonder how to know who you can trust and who you can’t? Don’t just go by how they treat you, pay attention to how they treat others! Certainly you’ll want to watch their actions, but also listen when they talk about how they’ve responded to other people so you’ll know where their heart really is. Then see which of these categories they fall into . . .
Henry Cloud suggests there are 3 categories of people¹ . . .
Paranoid – This type of person basically has no trust in others. They might profess good intentions and appear trustworthy when things are going well, but the second something goes wrong, they become anxious and on guard like an animal backed into a corner and may attack. They are not a bad person, they are just primitive in the area of trust. They are very skittish and conflicts erupt out of seemingly nowhere because they are looking for people to wrong them. They do not have the emotional tools necessary to withstand problems and work through them in a healthy way. It is hard to trust someone like this.
Dependent Giver – This type of person will treat others well as long as they are being treated well in return. It is reciprocal treatment. I love how Dr. Cloud describes this type, “They are truly ‘for’ the ones who are ‘for’ them.” This one doesn’t feel safe because it is based on performance and they are looking out only for themselves. This person is only going to love me and treat me well when I am giving them the royal treatment. But what happens when I’m going through a rough time and I can’t give at that level anymore? Or when I make a mistake or have a bad day? With this type of person, the good treatment stops and I suppose I’d have to ‘make up for’ my slight in order to get back in good with this person. This is not a relationship with a foundation of trust. (This is how romantic relationships that start out so perfect ultimately fail!)
Truly Trustworthy – This type of person gives to others not because they are going to get something in return, but just because that is who the person is. They give at the same level regardless of how the other person is treating them because they truly believe that is the right thing to do. This type of person will do what they believe is in your best interest. They don’t hate people, don’t feel the need to even the score, and don’t spend a lot of time angry or disgruntled over other people’s actions. With this type of person you do not have to worry as they will do right by you even when you are not looking!
Trust is about being “care free”. If you can truly trust someone, you will not have to worry as you know they will do what is in your best interest. You know this because they have demonstrated it repeatedly in their actions (both towards you and others). Further, you can tell by their responses over time that what drives their actions genuinely comes from their heart out of care and concern for others and not for their own self-interest.
Which category do the people in your circle fit into? And which category would people put you in?