Handling the Risk of Trusting Others’ Motives

I ran across this the other day:

I am not a victim of others, but rather a victim of my expectations, choices and dishonesty. When I expect others to be what I want them to be and not who they are, when they fail to meet my expectations, I am hurt.

When my choices are based on self-centeredness, I find I am lonely and distrustful. I gain confidence in myself, however, when I practice honesty in all my affairs. When I search my motives and am honest and trusting, I am aware of the capacity for harm in situations and can avoid those that are harmful.

A friend said something similar:

When I meet people, I bring an implicit contract. In that contract, I agree to treat them with the utmost respect, in ways that I would wish to be treated. And in return, all I ask is that they treat me with the utmost respect, in ways that I would wish to be treated.

Frequently, I find they end up in breech of contract. Of course, I haven’t presented them with the contract for them to read. And so it goes without saying, they haven’t signed it. D’ya think there’s something wrong with my contracting procedures?

Looked at from this angle, to trust someone is a unilateral decision to seek a bilateral relationship. When the other responds, then you’ve got a basis for something joint—or you don’t. 

But at the outset—when the trust-risk is first taken—there is no obligation. There is thus no basis for dashed expectations, disappointment at outcomes, or resentment that people didn’t do what we had wished they would do.

Most of the time, trust offered gets reciprocated. But not all of the time. That’s why they call it trust, it always and by definition comes with risk. To expect a particular outcome in a particular instance is to insist on changing the laws of probability. You can bet that 5000 coin tosses will produce roughly 2500 tails. But if the very next coin-flip turns up heads—how crazy is it to be upset? 

This is the meaning of “an expectation is a pre-meditated resentment.” 

4 replies
  1. Jim Monk
    Jim Monk says:

    A story to go along with this issue of Handling Other’s Trust.  For many years my Father made jar openers out of old inner tubes he picked up from tire stores all over West Texas.  He had made up some round wooden forms and used them to cut out neat round rubber grippers that really worked to open stubborn jar tops.  He would wrap one  of these openers with brown wrapping paper, put on an address and mail them out to all sorts of people whom he had met in his travels as a cattle feed salesperson.

    All good so far.  But my Father kept track of whether the person ever responded to the receipt of the opener with a thank you — it could be a phone call, a letter or a verbal rejoinder.  But if none was forthcoming,  Daddy would write the person off.  "Why that SOB couldn’t even say thanks, to Hell with him (or her)." was his standard comment.  So the recipients of those grippers were in a test about which they had no knowledge.  A bunch of folks failed, without ever realizing it.  Trust was to be earned with a simple "Thanks", but lasting bad feelings could result from no comment.

    My Father had a good heart, but it was a hard one.




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