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Don't you Trust Me?

Don't you trust me?

Handling difficult people: "Don't you trust me?"

Last week a female delegate on my course asked me a good question relating to the issue of trust.

She said, "Can I ask you a question related to trust? I don't know how to handle the situation when my daughter, or anyone else, uses the concept of trust to ask for an unearned concession. For example, last week my 13 year old daughter said to me "Can I stay over at my boyfriend's house tonight?" I said "No. I am not comfortable with that." She said "Why not? Don't you trust me?"

I realised that I had boxed myself in. I could not say "No, I don't trust you." But if I said "Yes I do trust you" that answer would lead to giving a concession that I did not want to give.

Can you help me with this issue: when people ask me "Why not? Don't you trust me?"

I said "Yes. I can help you...

The trick is to separate the concept of "trust" from the concept of "faith"

  1. Trust is belief based on the evidence of the senses and /or on a rational theory, ie belief based on track record and the observed facts.
  2. Faith is belief in the absence of conclusive evidence or in the absence of a logical rational theory.

When you feel uncomfortable about your 13 year old daughter staying at her boyfriend's house, the fear is based on the fact that she is 13, that you don't know the setup at the boyfriend's house and the rational theory that there may be some undesirable (from your perspective) activity being planned.

  1. Trust is belief based on evidence.
  2. Faith is belief in the absence of hard evidence.

Your daughter is asking not for Trust, but for Faith.
She wants you to give her the concession on a belief that all will be platonic (non sexual).
This belief is, in turn, based on insufficient evidence:

The way to verbalise this is to NOT have this an issue of trust or faith, but rather one of logic.
Take the concept of trust off the table and replace it with facts.
Make the difficult situation an issue of evidence and logic, not trust.

When she says "Why not? Don't you trust me?"
Say this "It is not an issue of trust, it is an issue of logic and of facts:

  1. The fact is that you are only 13 years old.
  2. The fact is I don't know the set-up at your boyfriend's house.
  3. The fact is that I am responsible for your safety until you are aged 18.

So unless you can provide me with more information, the fact is, that you are not stopping over at your boyfriend's house".

I go by the logic of the situation and there is not enough evidence to believe that what you say will happen, will actually happen.

I make my judgements only based on the evidence and by logical principles:

  1. Trust is belief based on hard evidence.
  2. Faith is belief in the absence of hard evidence.

Don't mix up these two concepts.
Don't ask people to put their faith in you! (Faith is reserved for the Gods)

As a mere mortal, work to build up a mutual trust, based upon evidence of your deeds and good track record.

For more information about handling difficult people and situations training visit the Corporate Coach Group website.

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