Can I Trust You?

It can be difficult to know whether you can trust someone in the first place.  It can be especially difficult to know how to trust someone again if they have hurt you.

Some people respond to the question by trusting people almost completely and backing off only when they get hurt.   Others do the opposite, witholding trust until someone has jumped through enough hoops to prove themselves.    Obviously, neither approach works.

In dealing with the question of trust, the most important thing to remember is that trust is not an all or nothing proposition.  It is possible to trust a person in some areas or with some responsibilities but not in other areas.  So how do you know what those areas are and to what degree you can trust a person in any context?  It comes down to three factors.

3 Trust Factors:  Ability, Integrity, Benevolence.

Research shows that trust is made up of three different components; ability, integrity and benevolence.

Ability–refers to a person’s capacity for doing what they say they are going to do.  To what degree does a person only promise what they are actually capable of doing?  Does that person actually follow through on promises or does that person say all the right thing in the moment but then fail to show up later?   The answer to questions like these will either support or undermine trust that is related to ability.

Integrity–means that a person has a sufficiently well-developed value system that they tend not to give offense in the first place, tend to self-correct when they do or are at least willing to generously hear and respond proactively when they are told they have been offensive.  A person with impaired integrity doesn’t tend to care that he has given offense and becomes automatically defensive if told he has been hurtful in some way.  A person who has impaired integrity only gives apologies grudgingly and rarely displays the humility necessary to learn from missteps.  That’s because they don’t have enough of an internalized value system to check their own behavior against.  Such a person does what they want until they meet some force that stops them.   Obviously, it is harder to trust a person who operates this way.

Benevolence–refers to the degree to which the person you want to trust has shown you that he or she is willing to work for your good especially when it has required some sacrifice or inconvenience on his or her part.   A person who is willing to put themselves out for your sake is more worth of your trust than someone who isn’t.

Evaluating a person’s ability, integrity, and benevolence enables you to have a clearer sense of how much you can trust someone, in what contexts, and to what degree.  It can also give you a guide for dealing with those you have a hard time trusting by helping you highlight why and what might be done to resolve those obstacles to trust.

If you would like help cultivating greater trust in your marriage, family, or personal life, contact the Pastoral Solutions Institute to learn about working with a faithful, professional Catholic counselor through our Catholic tele-counseling practice.  Visit us online or call 740-266-6461 to make an appointment.

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About Dr. Greg

Dr. Gregory Popcak directs the Pastoral Solutions Institute, an organization dedicated to helping Catholics find faith-filled solutions to marriage, family, and personal problems. Together with his wife, Lisa, he hosts More2Life Radio. He is the author of over a dozen books integrating psychological insights with our Catholic faith. For more info about books, tele-counseling and other resources, visit www.CatholicCounselors.com.


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