There is a lot of discussion about trust these days. People are generally less trusting, tending to be more reserved and guarded about what they share and whom they share it with. We have seen many very public breaches of trust and deep down that is a fear most of us have.
When working with people, either as clients or colleagues, not being trusted can have dire consequences. It can result in lower client loyalty, less referrals, more client issues around billing, delivery of services and even fairly public backlashes on social media.
Today we see entire industries that struggle with being trusted, due in no small part to their previous actions. Once trust is lost, it is very hard to regain.
So how can you tell is someone really trusts you? Over the years I have found that trust can be determined by the type of information that people share with you. The more personal the information the more trusting the person is of you. This might sound obvious, but do you really stop to consider what those around you are sharing or perhaps trying to share but you are missing their hints.
Sharing personal information is a sign of their vulnerability. This is the kind of information that if shared to outside parties could result in them being embarrassed or even humiliated, or it might even have a direct impact on how their colleagues view them. This in turn could cause problems with career growth or even employment, depending on what the information that was revealed.
We might share private information because it's in our best interest. For example we tend to trust our Doctor, realizing that it makes sense to share information that could ultimately have an impact on our health. But to tell someone we work with, or someone who is advising us, something personal, is a big step and a leap of faith.
What if someone confides in you, but only to share gossip about someone in the office? Does this mean they trust you? Not really. This is more a conspiratorial move, where sharing gossip is done to build rapport. It is often superficial, and paramount to smoking behind the shed in the school playgrounds.
Personally I use the information that people share with me as a way to measure if I am trusted or not. If they are opening up and being very authentic and vulnerable, airing their own perceived faults and failings, I do everything in my power to respect the trust they have shown and I would never, ever do anything to betray it.
When it comes to sharing gossip, negative comments about other people, I don't engage. I send a very clear message that I am not interested in that kind of talk and I find that the gossipers soon realize this, they stop gossiping to me and start having far more authentic conversations.
The bottom line is that being trusted enough for others to confide in you at a personal level is a very good thing, in every way. Respect this trust, you have earned it. Over time it can become the backbone of your professional and personal reputation.