Trust Part 3: Indicators of the Trait


Trust is essential but, all too often, a rare commodity in many relationships. In previous blogs, we’ve discussed various impediments to trust, the frequent difficulty recognizing them, and ways to recognize some common substitutes.

Recognizing things that undermine trust is incredibly helpful, but knowing what doesn’t work is only part of the equation.

There are a number of traits common to trustworthy people. Developing a curiosity about the interests, motivations, and values of the people around you are not only an excellent way to discern the presence (or absence) of these traits, it also happens to be one of them.

It’s true that we accept a degree of risk when we choose to trust someone, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a shot in the dark.

Here are a few traits seen frequently in trustworthy people:

  • Consistency & Intentionality: These traits are the hallmarks of value-driven people. They know what they believe and why, and they act accordingly.
  • Transparency: Trustworthy people are willing to be known, to be open about their own thoughts and to be respectful of people whose perspective differs from their own.
  • Emotional Health: Trustworthy people have the emotional capacity to act on their values and to recognize the needs of others.
  • Self-care: Healthy self-esteem fuels transparency, honesty, and self-awareness…traits upon which genuine trust rests comfortably. Likewise, while these are not fractious individuals, trustworthy people are willing to have difficult conversations if they believe it’s the right thing to do.
  • Trusting Relationships: Trustworthy people extend trust to others appropriately; they have healthy, long-standing relationships characterized by mutual trust and transparency.

Despite noble intentions, a number of factors can hinder trustworthiness: addiction, trauma, abuse, mental illness, exhaustion, and maturity can all impact our ability to show up in the way that we desire. Extending more trust than an individual can shoulder is often demoralizing for both parties.

It’s important to remember that extending trust appropriately doesn’t mean that we hold others in disdain or disregard.

I can love and respect my 14-year-old son without trusting him with the keys to a new Ferrari. The honor and responsibility of being trusted are directly proportional to the intentionality with which the decision to trust was made.

Written By: Jill Howgate, LAPC