The Trouble with Trust – 3 Things to Consider Before You Give It

trouble-signToday’s blog article is pretty straightforward and to the point.

There is trouble with trust.

Now, trust is pretty cool and amazing. It is an essential ingredient for any healthy relationship or organization, and I write a lot about how to build it and the benefits of having it.

But it also comes with some trouble. This trouble affects you and me on a very personal level and we should be aware of it before we decide to trust someone or something.

Here are three things you should consider before giving your trust:

1. It opens you to risk – Without risk there is no need for trust. People often think distrust is the opposite of trust, but it’s not. The opposite of trust is control. We don’t trust because we don’t want to lose control. If you want to experience the benefits of trust, then you have to accept some risk. Yes, you may get burned once in a while. That’s the risk of playing the game of life. But most of the time you end up winning, and winning big! Trust is worth the risk.

2. It requires investment from you – Trust is built through reciprocity. I give some to you, you give some back to me by demonstrating your trustworthiness, and I in turn give more to you. It’s a virtuous cycle that feeds upon itself. The gift that never stops giving. Giving…that’s the key word. Trust requires you to give. You give in to risk…you give up control…you give by being trustworthy…you give by experiencing pain and turmoil when someone breaks your trust. It can cost you time, money, and emotional energy, but you give because it’s worth it. So before you give away your trust, pause to consider the other ways you will need to give to nurture it or even rebuild it.

3. It can (and will) get messy – Trusting others is not always a smooth road. Any time people are involved it’s bound to get messy and that’s definitely the case with trust. Sometimes people will abuse your trust and you’ll feel like you’re on the losing side. Other times your efforts in building trust with others will take longer than expected and you’ll feel like giving up. Regardless of the situation, you’ll eventually hit some pot holes on the road to building trust. That’s normal and you’re not alone. Push through the messiness because the outcome is worth it.

Feel free to add a comment and share your thoughts about other costs people should count before giving their trust.

10 Comments on “The Trouble with Trust – 3 Things to Consider Before You Give It

  1. Many people might know about points 1 and 2 but may not consider and accept easily the third point.

    Trust is indeed messy. I’m sure people have thought that of me at times and I know I have thought that of others in my business and personal life.

    Trust takes calculation, cost-benefit-risk analysis and some level of courage.

  2. Earning and giving trust is messy. And sometimes you will get burned. But that only opens you to learning the lessons of forgiveness and acceptance. I have learned that you can and should find a way to forgive and accept people for who they are. If they could do better, they would. Something is interfering with their ability to lead with integrity. This thought process allows me to forgive. But my forgiveness does not entitle someone to my presence. I may not be the one who can help and my presence may interfere with their ability to reflect and grow. If someone is truly sorry and wants to be forgiven, they are willing to wait a quiet eternity earning that trust back.

    • Thanks for your comments Vickey. Learning to forgive benefits everyone involved. For the offended person, it means letting go of the hurt and moving forward in a healthy way. It doesn’t mean you continue to let the person break your trust (that’s foolishness).

      Thanks for adding your insights,


  3. Great tips Randy, Trust is a tough one. It was so long ago I can’t remember where I saw it but I would always tell staff the trust I give them is a loan. I lend it because I can take it back anytime they prove to fall short of expectations. On the other hand they can also gain more by going beyond expectations. Every leaders trust is determined by his credibility and credibility is gained by doing what you say you will do.

    Its not easy, and as you say it will get messy, you will be disappointed and let down. But the risks of trusting far outweigh the benefits of not not trusting.

    • Hi Paul,

      Credibility is core to building trust, and following through on your commitments is imperative. Not following through is one of the quickest ways to get people to distrust you.

      I appreciate your additional insights,


  4. Great post Randy — To me, trust is a lot like a Grade Point Average (GPA), which is to say it goes down much faster than it goes up. Similarly, it requires a disproportionate effort to raise it once it has fallen. Thanks for taking the time to write this.

    • That is a fantastic analogy Cale! True in so many ways (and I can relate to the challenge of having to slowly raise a GPA!…ha!).


  5. Yeap so true …
    I trust with difficulty but if I do I do totally and if a situation of such an extent arises and you betrayed me or I feel betrayed my trust is lost and me with it.

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