b. If the critic seems in error and biased, then discount the
information or "take it for what it's worth." It would still be valuable to
understand how and why the situation arose. Depending on the
circumstances, you'll have to decide whether to counter-attack or
"Once upon a time a man whose ax was missing suspected his neighbor's son.
The boy walked like a thief, looked like a thief, and spoke like a thief.
But the man found his ax while digging in the valley, and the next time he saw his neighbor's
son, the boy walked, looked, and spoke like any other child."
-----Lao-tzu (604-531 B.C.)
How to become more trusting
The major point, however, is that you can take greater risks in trusting and in
being honest in relating to others (trying for a deeper friendship) if you are less
vulnerable or less dependent and more self-accepting. The stronger and more secure
you are, the more honest you can be and the more open others will be with you.
Clearly, distrust and dishonesty are appropriate in some situations, but they are few.
Trust and honesty are more often preferred, especially as one becomes more secure
and independent. Interesting research, which we now turn to, has confirmed the
merits of trusting others.
The Trust Scale
Julian Rotter (1980) developed an "Interpersonal Trust Scale," which measures
the belief that another person's word or promise can be relied upon. It includes items
like these: To what extent do you agree with these statements?
In dealing with strangers, one is better off trusting them--within
reason--until they provide evidence of being untrustworthy.
Most people can be counted on to do what they say they will do.
The courts give fair and unbiased treatment to everyone.
Most elected public officials are really sincere in their campaign
Most salesmen are honest in describing their products.
Very few accident claims filed against insurance companies are phony.
You can get a feel for how you would answer such questions (all these questions
reflect a trusting attitude, but in the extreme they would reflect a naive, too trusting
Trusting (but not naive) people tend to be happier, better liked by others, more
honest, and more moralistic do-gooders than less trusting people. Of course, not all
distrustful people are dishonest themselves; however, there is a trend in this
direction. Some would say that trusting is pretty dumb. But high and low trusters are
about the same in intelligence. You might think, "OK, but surely trusters are more