Think of someone you trust. What characteristics distinguish them?
The Oxford dictionary defines trust as a ‘firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something’. Obtaining someone’s trust can be both a conscious and subconscious decision. Past experiences will inevitably influence our judgment as we remember the reliability of an individual in similar situations. However, there are occasions when we ignore logical signs and simply follow our instincts.
The Greek historian Herodotus believed that “ men trust their ears less than their eyes”. While this may not be true for all of us, it is worth considering what we value more, words or actions? Some may find words linger long in the memory whilst others may find actions are harder to forgive. Considering the powerful impact a lack of, or a breach in trust can have on a friendship or relationship, an awareness of what matters most to those around us is important.
Conversely, would you say you trust strangers? Perhaps without realising, we place a surprising amount of trust in people we do not know. Picture something as simple as walking to the supermarket. This includes trusting others to drive their cars safely and supermarkets not to deceive us (unlike the horse meat scandal). Trust may be the wrong word to describe it but we do seem to have an unspoken responsibility towards each other.
What about instincts? Do we trust ourselves to make the right decision? Faced with a plethora of data and peer pressure to make a decision which conflicts with our intuition, which should we choose? For every charming anecdote of a gut instinct paying off, there is also one where it went wrong. Therein lies the challenge, choosing when to trust facts and figures and when to go with your gut. An article in the Harvard Business Review posits that subject expertise, the type of scenario, and time will determine the validity of our instincts1. Ultimately, most decisions will involve a combination of statistics and gut feelings and we can only hope the future helps prove us right!
“I would rather trust a woman’s instinct than a man’s reason” Stanley Baldwin