Are you offended or upset

when someone doesn't trust you?

Why would you do that?

Do you think it means anything about you if someone doesn't "trust" you?

Maybe they shouldn't trust you. Perhaps you know that you're trustworthy regarding the issue at hand. But they don't have the information that you have. They can only go by what they know or think they know at this point in their relationship with you. 

Perhaps, if they were willing and able to learn more about you overtime, they may trust you more. However, if you say, "You should trust me," you're likely to have make it even more difficult for them to trust you.


When people distrust me because they don't know me well enough, I might say to them, "If I were in your shoes, I would feel the same as you do. I wouldn't recommend that you trust me either until you have more evidence that I deserve your trust, make sense?" I often find that just saying this helps others to trust me a bit more almost immediately.

Showing respect to another's distrust

Not long ago I was talking with a potential client. I could tell he really wanted to work with me, but he wasn't jumping in. Finally, I discovered his reluctance to enter an agreement with me. He had been burned several times before when he paid for something up front and then it wasn't delivered to his satisfaction. Even though I knew he didn't have to worry about this with me (I even refund people money if they're not satisfied), he couldn't know that he didn't have to worry about this with me. So I suggested, "Why don't we start working together with no up front payment? About every three weeks, I will ask, 'How much additional value do you think you've received since your last payment, if any?' Then you'll pay me whatever that is, your assessment."

Even though I was putting the risk in my court, I was happy to do that. And it worked out fine for both of us. If I had insisted on "being trusted," I would have screwed us both.

"But he knows how trustworthy I am, but he still doesn't trust me"

Patricia is married to David. She continues to feel hurt whenever David doesn't trust her. She's always been a stickler for honesty and accuracy whenever she tells him (or anyone else) something. She prides herself on her honesty.

David's driving and Patricia says, "Turn left at the next light." But David slows the car to confirm that the street sign is correct before turning. Patricia feels hurt.

David's got an issue that's specifically designed to push Patricia's button. He's a software engineer and he prides himself on always checking things out for himself before going ahead. Even though David knows that his behavior triggers his wife's pain, he's just "got to check things out for himself no matter what." Patricia's trying to prove she can always be trusted. David's trying to prove that he's an independent thinker.

The automatic belief of Patricia's machinery is, "There's something wrong with me because my husband doesn't trust me." But it means nothing about her. David's machinery does this to everyone. Two machines bumping head to head.

"My wife still gets jealous when there's nothing to be jealous about"

I might say to this husband,


"If that's true, then you know her jealousy is nothing to be upset or offended about, right? You could even see it as an expression of how important you are to her. Perhaps some of your behaviors have stimulated her to feel jealous. You know or believe that those behaviors "don't mean anything," but she doesn't. Can you be curious and compassionate about how she interprets those behaviors as something to be concerned about?"

"Or maybe she can't even point to any 'bad' behaviors on your part. Our jealousy DNA often says 'better safe that sorry.' In hunter-gather days, the man who fell in love with another woman would often withdraw essential resources and protection away from the first woman and child and give them to the new woman and (possible) new child."


"Perhaps she has that very common human belief, 'I'm not good enough.' She's looking for you to give her continuing and repetitive reassurance that you still love her and are not going to leave her."

"But I've really changed. Why can't he believe me?"

I might say to this woman,

"Maybe you have changed and it will be permanent and maybe not. How can you even know that you have changed and it will be permanent? Even if you have changed and even if it would turn out to be permanent, how can he know that? You went back to doing drugs twice before. You reassured him each time that you'd changed. And you had. For a while. His distrust is based in reality that he has evidence for. 

Trust as a toxic word

The way we often think about "trust" is either black or white. It's hardly ever this way. I could say that "I trust that when I tip this glass of water over, the water will fall downward." For this type of thing I would say that I trust 100%. Although even with his, if it didn't happen, I would be very surprised and intrigued, but I don't think I would feel "betrayed."

"For all intents and purposes..." (my mother liked this phrase)


So I say, "For all intents and purposes, until I get evidence to the contrary, I will trust that:

  • "I can rely on my bank not to steal any of the money I have in my checking account with them."

  • "I can rely on my assistant Heidi to come to work on time unless she lets me know otherwise or she isn't able to communicate with me."

  • "I can rely on having electric power in my apartment in Kunming, China at least 99% of the time."

Risk pays for the probable benefits

For other things I will say, "I will rely on this while accepting some level of risk that:

  • "My client will pay me the full amount that they have agreed to pay me."

  • "My friend will respond to me within a few hours if I tell them something's urgent."

  • "I will be able to find a visa to stay in China for at least the next ten years."

  • "My girlfriend will not fall in love with another man within the next year."

But if I want to play in the games that allow for:

  • Getting paid for providing the service I love providing.

  • Friends responding to me if I need something urgently.

  • Enjoying the great environment of living in Kunming, China.

  • Experiencing love and romance with the woman I love.

...then accepting these risks is a necessary "cost" of enjoying these benefits in my life.

The risks are high but still worth the possibilities

For other things I will say, "I will go for the possibility of this while accepting the larger risks that it will not happen:

  • "I will get a new client each time I provide a gift-coaching session."

  • "I will make a new friend by asking to sit and talk with a stranger in a restaurant."

  • "AskDwightHow will significantly influence millions of people if I persist in building and promoting it."

  • "I will live with vitality, health, happiness, and energy at least until 2120 if I persist in taking actions toward that possibility."

But if I want to play in the games that allow for the possibilities of:

  • Getting new clients.

  • Making new friends.

  • Significantly influencing millions of people.

  • Living and loving the journey of life until at least 2120.

...then accepting the risks involved is a necessary "cost" for these possibilities.

Distrust is not a problem

In fact, regarding many issues and situations, we need to have more distrust, not less. If you notice that someone "distrusts" you in a way that doesn't make sense to you, put on your curiosity hat. You may learn something important and you're likely to maintain the best possible relationship with that person.

To dig into the idea of trust and distrust more thoroughly, go to Trust. Also check out Undoing expectations.