Only Fools Trust Everyone

Don’t trust people who don’t trust you.

Joan’s boss asked her what she thought of their company’s banner product. Joan replied, “I love the value it brings but in many ways it’s outdated.” She offered suggestions on how to improve process, delivery, and application. That was Joan’s mistake.

It seemed the meeting went well. Later, however, Joan was shocked to discover her boss interpreted her comments as disloyalty.

Joan’s boss didn’t trust her commitment to the company. Distrust motivated him to question her motives.

People who trust you tell you what they think.

Thinking back on the conversation, Joan realized her boss hadn’t given any feedback during their meeting. He just nodded and jotted some notes; notes he used against her, later. The people who trust you engage in give and take. They tell you what they think.


When there’s more take than give in conversations, talk less. Ask for feedback. Beware when feedback is vague or nonexistent. Are they gathering ammo or simply thinking things through?

When you’re being evaluated, ask why it matters.

If Joan had known her boss was checking her loyalty, she would have responded differently. Determine the intent of  questions before answering. This matters most during job interviews, public meetings, and in distrustful environments.

Taking it back.

The people who trust you let you take things back. When you say, “That’s not what I meant,” they believe you.

The people who don’t trust you use your words as weapons to defend themselves and destroy you. They never let you take it back.


How do you navigate distrustful environments?

Note: Joan is a composite character. The facts have been changed to protect the innocent.


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