Here is a business secret (and regular life, too) that has been huge for me, that I don’t think you will read anywhere else: trust people right off the bat. Trust everyone. Trust strangers. Trust anyone you encounter until they give you a reason not to.
Right now, I can feel your eyebrow raising. Your eyes squinting. Your brow furrowing. Trust everyone? What kind of idiocy is this? Shouldn’t trust be earned?
In my opinion: nope.
And, spoiler alert, I am going to tell you why.
Most people are trustworthy. The vast majority of people you encounter are honest and generally looking to do the right thing most of the time. In fact, most people who are going to screw you over in some way are GENERALLY trustworthy otherwise. And then, for some reason, usually a circumstance that created a rock and a hard place, that typically honest person cheated you; e.g., either due to bad luck, bad planning, or incompetence, they are in a position where they can either pay their rent or pay you for services rendered, they choose rent, and you don’t get paid. Most people don’t INTEND to screw you. Some do, most don’t.
And so, since most people are worthy of being trusted most of the time, if you trust everybody, over the course of your life, you are going to be right more often than not.
That’s just science.
So, why do this? What is the benefit of presuming people are trustworthy?
For one, being the type of person who trusts first is good for you. It makes you kinder, freer, more adventurous, friendlier, more confident, and so on. You will be less paranoid and less anxious. You are more likely to give the benefit of the doubt, which I’ve talked about previously as one of the keys to being a happier person.
Giving someone your trust feels like something you are doing for THEM. But in reality, it is something you are doing for YOU.
Second, trusting people can lead to great opportunities. So many times, I have seen people ruin or turn down something that could be fantastic because of the possibility that somebody might screw them or not hold up their end of the bargain. I remember pleading with somebody once, almost yelling, “Why are you assuming he is lying and going to cheat you?!”
The reply, “Why are YOU assuming he isn’t?”
If I was physically capable of doing a face palm, I would have right then.
FYI, I actually did get that deal done. And, surprise surprise, everyone has done what they said they would.
Trusting people also makes life more convenient and saves time. I was recently at work when the guy showed up to my house to fix my air-conditioning. No one was home. I just went ahead and gave him the security code to my front door. I suppose he could have robbed me, but I was reasonably sure he wouldn’t. My most important belongings are locked up. There is not much there of value that can’t be replaced. His company is probably bonded and has insurance. And it turned out just fine.
I give my employees quite a bit of autonomy and trust that they will act in the best interest of the company, and do the things that need to be done. I don’t micromanage them. I don’t put trackers on their computers to monitor their activity. I don’t block certain websites from their browser. I pick good people and trust that they will do good work. This has turned out really well for me so far. They are happier, more productive, better able to solve problems, more creative, and I have a lot less stress.
I trust my customers. If they tell me they didn’t receive something, or something is defective, I just trust them and fix it. I’m sure I have been bamboozled at some point, and sent somebody something for free that they didn’t deserve, but the vast majority of the time, doing things this way just results in happier customers and time and energy saved.
A friend of mine just recommended a friend of hers as an employee to work in the warehouse. I told her to tell him he can start on Monday. No application, no resume, no interview, not even a phone conversation, none of it. I trust her. I’ve never met him, but I trust he will likely do a good job. And, worst-case scenario, if he doesn’t, he moves on. No big deal.
Now, while I do start with a baseline of trust, I do weigh the upside versus the downside. I’m not going to give a stranger the login info to my bank for no reason. I do give that info to my assistant, though, because I’ve known him for 30 years and it makes it easier for him to help me.
I give employees keys to the building and security codes so they can get in, but we also have cameras in the warehouse just in case.
Society tells us not to trust, that people will stab you in the back, that the world is full of cheaters and liars. And that will happen. Trusting people will occasionally come back to chomp your callipygian. If you spent a lifetime believing this, your experiences will have reinforced it to be true, and it is going to be a very hard habit to break. But I promise that it is worth it. You will live a happier, easier, less anxious, reduced drama life. Just try it out, and let yourself be surprised by how good people can be.
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