My wife and I were having an interesting conversation about the concept of trust. It came about because we'd been talking to a long time friend of mine who's gone through life basically trusting a lot of people who didn't end up deserving that trust.

by vagawi via Flickr

We had gotten into a conversation with her as to why she felt she did things like this, and I asked the type of question one can only ask someone they've known for a long time. She stated that overall she's a very trusting person that had this sense of helping and nurturing others, and that sometimes it just didn't work out how she thought it might.

I have to admit that, for the most part, I don't have that problem. I have different degrees of trust that depend on the situation and what I have to trust people for. For instance, when I go to a restaurant, I trust the person taking my order to bring me what I asked for without there being any problem with my food or drink. If it's a restaurant I go to often, I trust them with my bill as well, but if it's a new restaurant, I always take a look to make sure I'm not being charged for the wrong thing.

I'm not so trusting when it comes to the house. My wife and I were novices when we purchased this house, and we've been taken by quite a few people who promised us this or that and, in my opinion, haven't delivered. Now anyone who comes to the house and starts talking about anything gets grilled by both of us; experience is a great teacher.

There have been studies which have stated that the better looking someone is, the more you tend to trust them, at least initially. I tend to believe that's true. People who are put together well make you feel as though they'd have no reason to take advantage of you because of the physical gifts they have, but of course that's not true at all. There have been many good looking people that have done some heinous things in life, and thus using that as a judgment tool will easily get you in trouble.

What does it take to obtain trust? I think for the most part that it takes some kind of body of work, which can include time. If you've known someone for many years and they've never been accused by anyone of something devious, they're probably trustworthy for the most part. Or if you've seen a person's writings over time and they've never misled you on anything, you can probably trust that they know what they're talking about.

References can be pretty good, although they can be deceiving as well. Whenever I have to give references, which isn't really all that often, I try to give 5 or more each time, and hopefully with as few a number of people knowing each other as possible. When all the references know each other, you may not always get a true picture of someone's competence as much as the type of person they are. If you're looking for a friend, the second one works great; if you're going to be paying someone, that first one is what you need.

What types of things do you do to get people to trust you, especially when they don't know you well and you need them to?