Shelley J Whitehead

Are they trustworthy? The Time Factor

28 July, 2023

Trust is something that is developed over time. There’s a very simple reason for that: it’s because two of the three measures of trust depend on a certain amount of time, before you can be sure of them. I’m going to explain that a bit and give you some pointers on how to know if someone is trustworthy. 

The three C’s of trust

I often talk about the three C’s of trust: consideration, congruency and consistency. 

  • Consideration is about knowing whether or not someone is looking out for your needs. Do they care about what is important for you and have they got your back? 
  • Congruency is about observing whether or not someone’s actions and words match up. Do they say they are going to do something and then do what they say they are going to do. On the flip side, do they do something and then tell you they haven’t. You need congruency to be able to trust someone. 
  • Consistency is about whether you can anticipate what someone is going to do. Are they reliable? Do you feel you know them well enough to predict certain things about them? 

Why you can’t shortcut trust

With these three C’s you can only really know whether or not someone is living up to them by observing them over time. There is no short-cut to get there. Trust takes time to build… and that is why. 

How to observe the three C’s

A superficial shortcut to trust could be via someone’s reputation, for example, if you have heard someone is trustworthy or if you have reason to believe that they would naturally be inclined to look out for you (for example, if they were close to someone you were close to)… but that’s trust by proxy. It’s an assumed form of trust. You can’t know for sure until you have spent time with them. 

Our bodies are designed as sensory tools to pick up cues and clues from our environment. Until you have personally experienced interacting with someone, over a long enough amount of time to know whether or not they are considerate, congruent and consistent towards you, you will not be able to tap into the natural intelligence of your senses. You know – that kind of ‘gut feeling’ you get about someone. That’s your body naturally picking up on those cues of the three C’s. You can help yourself to deepen and clarify that gut feeling process by overtly asking yourself the question about the three 3 C’s. 

What to do if you start to doubt someone’s trustworthiness

The other thing to point out is that the 3 C’s should be offered up by the other individual without you prompting them or asking them to behave in a considerate, consistent and congruent way. It’s great to express your needs but if you are overtly having to spell out that someone needs to deliver the three C’s to you, then you are at risk of them doing a kind of performance for you. The important thing with trust is that it must be willingly offered up – not forced or manipulated out of someone. So the only way to really know if someone is trustworthy is if you are able to observe the way they show up in your relationship with them. 

Conclusion: The power of choice:

That’s why in all relationships, in the early days, whether it’s a date or a potential business partner, a friend or a colleague, you need to take your time to watch them. 

And, when you have got to know someone and you have built trust but then find at some point that you are sensing that they might be doing something untrustworthy, listen carefully to that instinct in the context of the three C’s. Are they doing something that is inconsistent with their normal behaviour that is making you suspicious? Are their words and actions suddenly not quite matching up? Or do you feel that your needs are somehow now less important to them. You can use this framework for getting a bit more clarity around your thoughts and what might be driving this feeling. 

With clarity, comes the power of choice. The choice to explore things further and to make decisions that feel healthy for you. 

I hope that this simple framework of observing the three 3 C’s is helpful for you. I love sharing my tools and tips with you. You’ll find lots more helpful videos on my YouTube channel, so do take a look and please remember to subscribe so we can continue this journey together. 

Shelley J Whitehead
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