On any given day, you to have to make decisions about whether to trust someone. Some of these decisions happen in a nanosecond: You trust the driver will stop at the red light as you cross the street. When you order lunch, you trust the restaurant to deliver what you requested.

In a business context, you might join a professional organization because someone recommended it to you and you trust that person's judgment. If the benefits turn out to be what that person asserted, then it's worth your while. If the benefits are not, the situation itself isn't dire as this decision is low risk, low reward. Although there might be some erosion as to how much you trust that person's judgment going forward.

Then there are times when the stakes are more critical. Let's say there is a situation when someone is offering you a position in their start-up. This means you will need to leave the comforts of your current work situation and take the risk that this new situation will work out to your advantage. It is a really attractive offer, you trust the person and her ideas, and you are ready for your next challenge. But you are not ready to be unemployed if it does not work out. Big decision.

Studies show that when you have taken risks with people that have worked out well, you build trust in your relationship. You are willing to take bigger risks with them in the future than with someone who is unknown to you because they are more predictable. But if something happens and it does not work out you will become disappointed and you will lose trust in that person.You will be more skeptical about taking chances with them again and they will have to earn your trust back if it can ever be fully recovered.

So how do you make the decision about whether to trust someone? Here are eight questions to ask yourself that can help you determine how much to trust a person in your decision-making process. Keep in mind who the person is you are thinking of trusting, the situation and the level of risk vs. reward.

8 Questions to Ask About Whether to Trust

  1. Is this person reliable? Consider your past encounters and how well the person has fulfilled commitments.
  2. Is this person competent?  Measure the demonstrated capabilities this person has about the subject matter.
  3. Is this person predictable? Make educated guesses based on past experiences how the person will act.
  4. Is this person consistent? Determine how steady the person has behaved or whether the behavior has been erratic.
  5. Does the person communicate clearly? Decide how well informed you are based on what has been shared with you.
  6. How well do you know the person? Decide the depth and breadth of your knowledge about this person.
  7. What is your power in relation to this person? Identify the amount of leverage you have as with more power, more leverage.
  8. Does this person "have your back?" Determine how much this person will be on your side to support you when there are challenges along the way.
Published on: May 8, 2018
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