To Trust or Not to Trust? How to Know Who.

Book Review

Title:Trust Rules – How to Tell the Good Guys from the Bad in Work and Life

Author: Linda K. Stroh, Ph.D.

Publisher: Praeger, 2007 trustrules

“Thanks so much for that book. I wish I had read this book before now. Acting on its lessons, I think I would have avoided been a victim of so many past betrayals.” Those are the words echoed by a friend with whom I shared Professor Linda K Stroh’s book – Trust Rules – How to Tell the Good Guys from the Bad in Work and Life. Whether you are the one let down by a friend, or a victim of betrayal from a loved one or double-crossed by a business partner, maligned by a co-worker or left high and cold by a supposed mentor, this book is for you. No, you may not be able to recover all past lost grounds. However following the guidelines enunciated by the author, you will be better equipped to hone your skills towards eliminating untrustworthy associates from your inner cycle. Like my enthralled friend, after reading this book, your response will be akin to, “if I knew right then what I knew right now”. You will also come by insights on how you too can become a better and more trustworthy persons of character in the
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How do you become a trustworthy person and how do you protect yourself from untrustworthy smooth, sleek and slippery folks? Doubtless, some of you reading this may even snigger with the remark, “Who even wants to be a good guy in a world where some people call good evil and evil good?” Trust matters so much, because the world runs on trust. For obvious reasons, even criminals and robber-barons are looking for people they can trust.  People and the organizations and systems they build, run, depend on and thrive on trust. Human relationships and the society in general will collapse or be greatly impeded where there is no trust. Being trustworthy or having trustworthy people around us will not eliminate all of the world’s ills. However as explained by the author, with trustworthy people around us, even though our problems are not necessarily eliminated, problem-solving certainly becomes much more manageable.

In this book, Professor Linda K Stroh points out that trusting too much is just as detrimental to our welfare as not trusting enough. She also provided insightful guidelines and anecdotes on how to identify untrustworthy people from trustworthy ones and what to do as individuals to eliminate the former from our inner cycles even if we cannot entirely avoid relating with them on a day to day basis.

      • Trustworthiness – what does it implies?
      • How do you identify a trustworthy person?
      • How do you relate with or handle an untrustworthy person?
      • What can I do to become a more trustworthy person myself?

When we trust people, we believe that they are reliable dependable, good and honest etc.

Going further, the author explained that, “Trust is a willingness to be vulnerable—a willingness to take a risk that someone will not harm us. When we place our trust in another person, we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, because we have positive expectations of another’s behavior.”

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The author provided several guidelines readers can use to identify trustworthy people. The following are some of the key points I personally took away.

      1. Trustworthy people demonstrate good values throughout their history and they demonstrate their being good even when the times are difficult.
      2. Daily demonstrations that behavior, not just words, match values.
      3. Trustworthy people admit and learn from their mistakes. They have a self-awareness of the ways their behaviors affect others.
      4. Trustworthy people treat all people the same, regardless of level in the hierarchy (work or social), and they demonstrate consistent good behaviors.
      5. Those who are untrustworthy will only interact with you when there is something in it for them. Trustworthy people have positive qualities other than just good looks, a good education, and wealth.

OK, the points enunciated by Professor Linda K Stroh are more than these, but two of my chief take-away are that,

      • Trustworthy people are those people you can have confidence in that “they will always try to do the right thing.”
      • Trustworthy people will put their personal interests aside for the general benefit of the group, team or organization as the need arise.

With experience and training some people are more adept at recognizing untrustworthy people and also knowing how to put them at bay. But, for the rest of us mere mortals, the ideas and insights distilled in this book will prove to be invaluable compass as we navigate the landscape of close human relationships and the inevitable pitfalls of trusting too much and too soon.

Worthy reminders from the author are that:

      • Supposedly unconditional trust relationships are sometimes the easiest to violate. Why? Because most of us don’t want to doubt that those we trust the most would violate our trust, in any way.
      • If you are a trusting person, you are highly vulnerable to untrustworthy persons using their charm, charisma and influence to win you over and then duping you.
      • How to watch our backs against the untrustworthy person without becoming one ourselves. The key is doing everything without malicious intent.
      • Even though we aspire to being 100% trustworthy, we understand that we are imperfect in our human relationships. However, on the trust continuum, each one of us must decide the level one is comfortable with.
      • Knowing when to give another person a second chance. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you now trust someone who has betrayed you, or that you are willing to reconcile. It merely means you are letting go of your anger and resentment. Bad guys don’t forgive and they don’t forget.
      • Occasionally even good guys make mistakes and act like bad guys. Few good guys, however, exhibit bad behaviors over a long period of time—the good guy’s conscience wouldn’t let that happen

Most certainly, my brief preview cannot exhaustively do justice to this excellent work. My conclusion in the words of the author, “I want to be known as a kind, fair person. I also know that if I am not kind and fair to people I’ve identified as bad guys, how can I really be a good guy? Conceivably, it doesn’t mean we will be unkind or thoughtless to those bad guys. We just don’t want them in our inner circle!”