When it comes to winning in sports, relationships, business, and life in general--trust is an integral factor.

After all, no one succeeds alone. It takes a village to accomplish a worthy feat. The adage of the lone wolf who lives on an island without reliance on anyone is a fantasy that will only lead to burnout, loneliness, and untapped potential.

With that said, when it comes to determining the trustworthiness levels of individuals, many metrics in the past have been used as a barometer. Age, facial shape, eye movements, vocal tonality, word phrasing, and body movements are a few of the many metrics used in the past.

However, according to research from Wharton's Maurice Schweitzer, determining who to trust is much simpler. According to a recent 2018 paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, trustworthiness came down to levels of guilt-proneness.

Schweitzer, during a radio show on SiriusXM succinctly describes how to determine trustworthiness by stating "If you're trying to figure out who should be minding the accounts, who should be at the cash register, it's the guilt-prone person."

Simply put, the higher the levels of guilt-proneness, the more trustworthy the individual is likely to be.

As someone who was indoctrinated with the idea that guilt is an unhealthy emotion, this was music to my ears. As I thought about this more, guilt can serve as one of your best qualities when guided under the right direction. Here's a positive trait that can come out of guilt.

An empowered mindset equipped for positive action

At the end of the day, guilt, shame, and other everyday feelings are neither good nor bad by default. Instead, they become good or bad due to the perspective we label them with.

Guilt is a negative force when the energy generated from it is directed toward something that neither improves the situation nor yourself. On the other end of the spectrum, guilt is a positive force when it's directed toward improving the situation or past mistake or helping you grow as an individual.

Healthy guilt results in you taking personal responsibility for your actions and holding yourself accountable. To use guilt in a positive manner, recognize and resolve the source of the guilt as soon as possible so it doesn't compound. Not settling the conflict is how things get out of hand.

Missed a deadline on a work project? Simply own up to the mistake and finish the project along with extracting lessons from it so you don't repeat the same mistake.

As with most things in life, it's imperative to take a big picture view of the situation, so you can see all angles and perspectives at play. Guilt operating under the right set of energy can make you more generous, productive, and valuable in the long run.

Published on: Nov 21, 2018