Determining whether or not you can trust someone isn’t always easy. In ABC’s hot new show Quantico, Alex Parrish and her fellow FBI trainees have their world flipped upside down when an unimaginable act of terrorism is committed by someone on the inside –suddenly, nobody’s sure whom they can trust. If you, too, have had your world flipped upside down, here are a few methods you can use in the future to determine whether or not someone is worth your trust.
1. They’re reliable with the little things.
Ever been betrayed by someone only to realize how many smaller signs of shadiness you’d already let slide? Turns out, all of those white lies—like how much they really spent in Vegas, or why they were always slamming their laptop shut when you came in the room—may very well be signs of bigger trouble down the road. When it comes to trusting others, sociologist and life coach Martha Beck applies the age old principle of “How you do anything is how you do everything.” According to her research, if someone regularly displays small acts of honesty, he’s likely to be trustworthy with big picture issues as well (and vice versa).
2. They display self-control.
If someone can’t trust him or herself, it’s going to be nearly impossible for you to trust him. Researchers tested this theory and found that people who display high levels of self-control are perceived as more trustworthy by others – and rightfully so. If someone isn’t able to manage their impulses in a tempting situation, it’s going to be difficult to place your trust in them. Everyone encounters temptation at some point in their lives – and how he or she reacts in those moments is the true test of character.
3. They’re comfortable making compromises.
John Gottman, author of The Science Of Trust, explains that trust gets built through a series of tiny moments where our partner temporarily compromises their happiness for ours. These instances can be as small as asking to hear about our day when they’re tired at the end of their own, or agreeing to eat something for dinner that we like but they aren’t particularly crazy about. When both partners regularly engage in these behaviors, trust begins to build – if we can trust them to put the health of the relationship first on a small scale, we can trust them to do the same on a bigger scale, too.
4. Their actions speak for themselves.
When someone is constantly making excuses for their behavior or justifying their actions in retrospect, they are raising a huge red flag. Trustworthy people don’t leave room for explanations or doubts – their actions simply speak for themselves. They do what they say they’ll do, and they explain any misunderstandings or inconsistencies as they arise – not after they’ve been caught red-handed in a lie.
5. They are trusting of others.
A recent study that examined the behaviors of video game players found that those who were comfortable relying on and cooperating with other players were less likely to betray their partners in the game. Trustworthy people understand that trust is a two-way street – they give it out and they expect it back in turn. The more suspicious someone is of others’ intentions, the more likely it is that they’re the one who actually can’t be trusted!
6. You trust them.
Perhaps the most paradoxical component of building trust is that someone’s trustworthiness is partially reliant on whether or not you trust him or her. It’s been suggested that someone is more likely to behave in a trustworthy manner if they feel as though they are trusted. Therefore trust is, in many ways, a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The best way to discover whether or not you can trust someone is to trust him or her. It will not only make you come off as a more trustworthy person (see #5), but it may actually make them into one.
This post is brought to you by ABC’s Quantico. Watch the series premiere Sunday, September 27 at 10|9c – only on ABC.