The Anatomy of Trust

Why do we trust some people more than others? This question always bothered me. There is no easy way to make others trust you, but something in our behavior makes it more or less likely.

I distinguish four components of trustworthy behavior:

  • Rationality. We tend to believe people who sound plausible and confident. Their thoughts are consistent and reasonable. They not only have good logical thinking but also can communicate it well to others. The latter is pretty rare.

  • Empathy. The ability to understand and share the feelings of another person speaks for itself. Additionally, I like to think of it as a willingness to pay attention to people. Our attention is a precious resource. Empathy is limited, too, so people usually feel it very well.

  • Authenticity. "Be yourself," so easy to say, but hard to follow this advice. The path from an image of ourselves in our heads to reality isn't pleasant—it is full of fears, frustration, and humility. Most people can't be authentic with others, and some can't do it even with the close ones.

  • Vulnerability. No one is superman in this world—there are no people who are always alright and happy. But this world knows seeking, suffering, mistaken, unaware, and weak souls. Being vulnerable means being open and transparent to others.