But a new book reveals the scary truth about how, in a digital age, we are all becoming more trustworthy of strangers.
Its author, Oxford University lecturer Rachel Botsman is on a mission to help others understand what makes us trust.
Rachel, 40, says she had a “gift” for reading people even at the tender age of five. Though her mum was very taken with a new nanny, Rachel wasn’t so sure.
Ten months later, the nanny was arrested for running a huge London drugs ring. She even used the family’s car as the getaway vehicle in an armed robbery.
Rachel says: “I have first-hand experience of when trust goes superbly wrong.” Here, she gives her checklist on reading the trust signs and making yourself trustworthy.
More reliant on tech than ever
How to spot if you can trust someone
TRUST is an emotional feeling that can be experienced in three ways:
Ask yourself: “Does the person you want to trust have all of these qualities?” If they do they’re probably trustworthy.
Competency: Can they do what you want? For example, can they really look after your kids? Are they really capable of the job role?
Reliability: Are they consistent over time?
Integrity: Are they honest with you about their intentions?
Empathy: Do you feel they genuinely care for you?
…and getting them to trust you
HERE are Rachel’s five steps to earn others’ trust:
- Be really clear and honest about what you promise from the off. If people understand exactly what you can offer, they feel they can trust you much more than if you give generalised answers or promises.
- Demonstrate empathy and vulnerability. A lot of how much we trust others is actually formed when people openly show their weakness. If you admit, “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember”, then other people will feel they can trust you a lot more when you do say “I can do that”, as you’ll appear confident and sure of yourself.
- Speak honestly but don’t reveal too much. When it comes to people trusting you, they are looking for subtle signs. If you are over the top with your honesty, people can read this as a sign that you are TOO transparent – so not as trustworthy as they hope.
- Take it slowly. Trust can’t be rushed so let people know you are trustworthy with the above techniques and keep it consistent over time.
- Explain yourself. If social media has lots of pictures of you travelling, but you tell someone you hate going abroad, address the travelling pictures before they have time to second-guess you. Or if you’ve told your friend you can’t lend them money, but turn up to meet them with a new outfit, explain why – for example: “I used my birthday money.”