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The Debit & Credit Trust System & What To Consider When You're Trusting Someone

In this class: Help with working the solution for critical skill trust. This also helps with accountability and responsibility, taking action, and boundaries.

I'm always being asked by people, "But how can I learn to trust someone?" or "How can I trust when I haven't got anywhere to start from?" Trust is a skill learned through action and it's like a muscle - the more you learn how to increase and roll back trust where appropriate, is the better you get at it. The only way that you can do this is by listening to feedback from instances where you trust or don't trust and learning from the insights gained. Yes you have a bigger job to do if you have trust issues, but we all have to start somewhere, even if it's at the bottom. The alternative is not trusting at all or trusting blindly and one will cause you to sabotage healthy opportunities and the other is the equivalent of jumping into a pool full of sharks with your eyes closed and hands tied to your side.

The Debit & Credit Trust system is based on a foundation of using the period of time after you meet someone for the first time and you're going through the process of getting to know them as a discovery phase. Your job is to find out who they are through your interactions. Trust is not all in the head and it certainly isn't about making assumptions and going "Ding ding ding! They say they're a family person - I trust them".

Anything you trust about someone must be based on your experience of them and rooted very firmly in action over a consistent and ongoing period of time. Trust shouldn't be based solely on image and certainly not one that doesn't stand up to scrutiny. It's like believing that you can put all of your trust in someone because they're famous, or liked, or rich - how many famous, liked, and rich people have we been treated to media stories about their rather untrustworthy ways?


You increase (credit) the trust account with trust when they are and do things that are worthy of your trust, and you stop, look, listen and roll back (debit) when they are or do something that makes whatever you believe about their reliability, ability, trust, or the strength of what you know about them, be called into question.

What you should never, ever, ever, ever, ever do, is increase trust as a way of trying to create a tipping point where the other person will trust you back and do what you want. If someone is being untrustworthy, trusting them more is not going to inspire them to be more trustworthy.

Anything that is what I term 'code red behaviour' is a debit and an exit.

Anything that is what I term 'code amber behaviour' is a debit and evaluate, or evaluate and debit, or at the very least pause by stopping, looking, listening, and not proceeding with any further trust until you are clear on the nature of the issue. It may mean being extra aware and being prepared to step away if you see further signs. Yep, boundaries.

Trust people whose actions and words match. If they don't match, you've got problems.

If you have to keep debiting and crediting your trust account with someone, take this as a code amber - something isn't right and you're experiencing too much inconsistency.

You can't really claim to 'know' someone until you've observed them in all sorts of situations and come back with the same consistent information - the more the same information comes back, the more you can trust that what you've believed that you know is true.

As a byproduct of learning to increase and roll back trust, both figuratively and literally, you actually learn how to trust you, because you have faith in you that you're not going to be like a rottweiler patrolling you and keeping everything, both good and bad out, but you're also not going to lead you into trouble. You also know that by treating trust in this way, that you regard trust as something valuable and that when you misjudge someone or a situation, that you will take corrective action.

  • If you trust that someone is something and they prove not to be and you take action, this is good.
  • If you've been treating someone or a situation as untrustworthy, but over time you've come to realise that it's actually not what you think it is, and you start to increase your trust a little, this is good.

Here are somethings to consider:

If you felt like you trusted someone after a week, is the same information coming back at 2, 3, 6, 12 months down the line?

I ask this because this is a very real scenario. I've come across thousands of people who can't get over someone who they trusted in the first month and who either disappeared / broke up at this point, or who subsequently changed but they didn't know what to do with it.

  • If you think you know someone after a short period of time and then they change after this, they haven't changed - they've unfolded. What you meet isn't what you know - knowledge is information acquired. Nobody, and I mean nobody, has got that good a judgement of character that they should feel that they know or trust someone more than they would themselves after a short period of time. This means, if the same information stops coming back, you have to trust you.
  • If the information, i.e. the feedback changes, you must apply it to what you know or have assumed.
  • People unfold in both directions by the way - this means they can go from strength to strength. If someone has changed negatively, particularly so quickly, the best remedy tends to be flush. Yes the honeymoon stage passes whether it's a romantic relationship or friendship, but they shouldn't go from gold star to assclown sticker.

If you've been trusting someone and as a result of information coming through, you start to doubt yourself, this is a RED FLAG. Your interactions are supposed to enrich your life, not drain you out. I've met people who started doubting themselves after a week. A week?! Oh hell NO! They're just not that special and you're just not that desperate. Either address the doubt and stop doubting you, or flush. It's one or the other. Sticking with doubt is not an option.

If you've been around someone for a very long time and have believed them to be trustworthy and they start being untrustworthy, what do you do?

This situation is particularly difficult because it feels like you don't know which way is up, but it also gives you the impression that it's scary to trust people.

  • First things first, walk your way back through your relationship with them from the start and what do you see? Are there things that you would consider to be code amber or red, or are there at least signs that something was brewing but you didn't recognise it?
  • If not, has something occurred that could cause them to respond with a significant change of behaviour? This might be experiencing a trauma such as a death, an accident, an attack, or it may be that something has happened that has resurrected a previously buried wound that has tipped them over the edge. Sometimes very severe mental or physical stress changes people. This is a tricky situation. You might think it's a blip, but if it continues and you end up coming to physical or emotional harm, you have no choice but to step away or at the very least take protective cover while addressing things. Don't deny the seriousness of what's happening. Depending on the situation, you may be able to make the person seek help, such as if you're married / in a long-term relationship / you have children. Be careful of saying that it's the situation not them because the longer that it continues for, is the more you have to look beyond the situation. Unless whatever changed their behaviour is addressed and managed, your trust and faith in them may be permanently damaged.

It can be frightening to be in this situation as it feels like you can't bother to trust people because even if you think they're trustworthy for a long time, they can change. The truth is, sometimes people do change - life does that to us - and it's not always for the better. Ever had a friend for a very long period of time who you drifted away from or who suddenly started acting like someone you didn't recognise?

This doesn't mean that you are dumb to have trusted them or have made a mistake; what it means is that they have a lot going on within them that they're not necessarily handling well. Sometimes people act out.

Sometimes these situations can recover themselves, often with some space and the other person addressing their issues, possibly with some support from you, but if they don't, it's a matter of grieving the loss of the relationship, but also honouring the good memories that you have of them. It's bittersweet and yes, agony at times, but if nothing is changing, to keep trusting them and seeing them as the same person, is to live in the past loving a person who doesn't exist anymore in the way that you perceive them. This can open you up to a world of hurt, when what you need to do, is to love you more.

Evaluate which type of things earn your trust.

A good place to start, is to evaluate what has caused you to trust people before, even if you misjudged the situation.

Let me give you a very strong hint - if your trust is based in any of the following:

Second hand information. i.e. They say something and you take it as so, even if you never see and experience it personally between now and the end of time.

Recommendation. There are many things that recommendations work well for in life, such as domestic appliances, restaurants, tech gear etc, but I wouldn't decide that I trusted someone because someone else I liked recommended them. I might take an extra interest, but I've actually been on enough bad blind dates, had enough lazy recommended staff members etc. to know that my opinion of who I trust is what counts.

Rejection. Example - "They said something about me that I've feared is true - I trust them and believe it", or them not wanting you but you believing every word out of their mouth because it's like you've given them higher status.

Status. Example -"They're so popular / liked / respected by the community - I trust them."

Job. Example - "Ooh they're a cop / in the army - I trust them" or "Ooh they run a company with lots of people - I trust them" or "They've been in the same job for 30 years - I trust them"

Sex. Orgasms, penises, vaginas, sexual chemistry - not very good indicators of character.

Familiarity based in an unhealthy pattern. This is the equivalent of giving negative trust. "Oh they're like my shady father - ding, ding, ding, I must trust the self-fulfilling prophecy."

Money. Er there are plenty of fools and untrustworthy folk with money. Nuff said.

Looks. Yes, I have heard from people who felt more trusting of a person because they looked like their ideal partner.

Shared interests. Shared interests are secondary values and tell you shag all about the character of the person who may still have entirely different values even if you both like sleeping at a 17 degree angle, cooking French food and skiing every winter.

Shared political views. This may show that you have the same political values but you need to share similar personal values that govern your character and they need to be trustworthy for this trust to be well placed.

Being bought flowers or gifts. Er...NO. Don't be a cheap buy.

Asking you out / showing interest in you. See previous. You're just not that desperate.

They go to church. If you place a high value on religion, it is not enough to trust someone because they say that they believe in God or whoever you pray to, or that they go to the same church, or are even the priest themselves. They still need to earn your trust. Their idea of worship and embodying religious values and yours, may be two very different things.

What type of actions that are personally experienced by you would you feel earn your trust?

Here's a hot tip: Shared core values is what engenders trust between two people. When there are trust issues, it means you have core values issues. Ding, ding, ding! Yes, that should be a lightbulb moment!

This means if someone isn't trusting you, even though you're actually not giving them any genuine reason not to trust you such as lying, abuse etc, it means that there is a difference in core values and they know it. It doesn't mean you've done something wrong or are 'bad' - the differences cause anxiety and possibly aggravation. They may simply recognise that the way you see things is very different and they may struggle to empathise and see a different perspective.

If you don't trust someone, it means that you recognise, even if you don't know how to articulate it or it's not fully in your consciousness, that there is a difference in core values.

Aha! you may say. What if I don't know if my lack of trust is based on insecurity or what they're doing?

I've written about internal vs external fear before - if there are signs outside of you, i.e. the other person's behaviour, it is not insecurity or fear; it's knowledge. That knowledge is based on recognising that this person does not share core values where it counts.

Which core values are trust issues most likely to arise from? Personal values, i.e. which values say who you are and guide your beliefs and actions?

This means that if you're around someone who you share other core values with, for instance political, religious, or relationship values, but on the personal values front, you value integrity, and they have an allergy to the truth, you won't trust them although you'll keep thinking that all of the other stuff you have in common means that you 'should' trust them.

You could for instance have many things in common, including on the core values front, but if you value loyalty and responsibility, and you don't feel that you can rely on them or trust that they will be responsible about very important stuff, you will lose your faith in them.

You may have off the chains sex, but if they screw you over as well as screwing you, you definitely won't trust them. Never use orgasms or sexual performance, or even supposed sexual chemistry as a basis for trust. Penises and vaginas don't have their own brains, or eyes, ears etc - it is you that has to operate your judgement. If everybody trusted everyone we had sex with, the world would be in a terrible state.

How quickly will you give out your trust?

If you're willing to pack yourself up and sell you down the river after knowing someone for a hot minute, you give away trust too easily.

Quite simply, trust should be earned over time and as a result of consistency over an ongoing period.

70% full trust account

This doesn't mean that you should deem someone untrustworthy - you need to enter into your interactions with a reasonable level of trust. Let's call it 70%. You're not trusting too much, you're not being distrusting - you're trusting yourself and working with a baseline assumption that you will evaluate the situation in reality and roll back or increase trust accordingly. When you trust you to act in your own best interests, there is less to concern yourself with - you know you'll act should you have cause to.

While there are other areas of your life you can outsource, such as trusting a financial manager to manage your finances, or a stylist to manage your style, you've got to do the people and relationship management.

Remember: Trust people whose actions and words match. If they don't match, you've got problems.

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