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How to Lose Trust in 4 Easy Steps

trust, isolation, alone

Building relationships—at work and at home—is challenging enough. One of the foundational principles of a successful relationship or partnership is trust. Think about a friendship, business partnership, or intimate relationship that didn’t work out. I bet you can recall the precise moment when your trust in the other person took a nosedive.

“I caught her badmouthing me in an email.”

“I told her I had gotten laid off and she asked if I was free to watch her kids.”

“He said ‘I won’t get fresh with you’…then he did.”

“She made cruel jokes about our neighbor’s disability when he wasn’t around.”

trust, listening, empathy, past

What did you feel after that moment? Trust is how we form bonds and feel safe (physically, mentally, and emotionally) with another person. Without this security, it becomes difficult to be our true selves; your integrity may be at conflict, challenging your personal ability to be honest or open and hindering flow of communication; and respect crumbles. Assuming that you do not wish to have connected, fulfilling relationships, here is how to be a trust vampire slowly eroding all confidence and expectation in 4 practical steps. (Please only use this guide under the supervision of a physician. Just kidding—mostly.)

Don't listen.

woman looking at cell phone

Understandably, anything with a screen is surely much more interesting and entertaining than a living, breathing being all full and feelings and whatnot. So it stands to reason that your TV, computer, or mobile devices will gladly replace your personal relationships should you opt to ignore people. Even better, feigning interest in a conversation with apathetic attempts at active listening (“uh huh, yeah, I know, I know, I understand") really pisses people off. This lack of concern for a person’s feelings will get you on the road to Lonelyville quick and in a hurry.

Lack empathy.

Another great way to show how little you care is to openly and willfully lack the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Bypass all opportunities to acknowledge the person’s feelings and emotions by appearing to be visibly uncomfortable, abrupt, and off-topic. Also, egotistically inject your personal experiences into the conversation in efforts to one-up the other person and appear to be superior. Maybe that’s too much. At the very least, diminish the person’s experience by sharing your own similar or completely different experience in failed attempts to seem relatable.

Reference the past.

man looking to the side

When you are looking to decimate any possibility of forging a formidable future, refer to the past frequently and fervently! You can easily do this in just about any aspect of your life. Want to annoy your new boss and coworkers? Talk incessantly about “how we used to do” things at your former employer. Want your girlfriend to add a prefix to her title? Bring up one or several of your ex-girlfriends at least once a week, preferably during arguments, romantic dinners, while creating new memories, or having sex. Want your employees to leave your office in a hurry? Be sure to recount favors, exceptions, and just about anything remotely kind that you have ever done for them and shove it in each of their furry faces. Keeping a scorecard of everything they have ever done wrong is also helpful here to remind those buggers of all the errors you have so graciously forgiven.

Never accept accountability for your words, actions, or errors.

Speaking of errors, you must remember to sweep all of yours under the rug. Hey, there is no way you can be distrusted if you are fully transparent about decisions or choices that were regrettable. Here, you must realize that your words are simply vehicles of manipulation. No need to take responsibility for your actions either, because, well, let’s be honest: you probably only did that stuff to be liked, win favor, or to serve your own agenda.

Flip it and Reverse It.

If you are still reading this sarcasm-laden narrative, you can find the humor or even real-life parallels in these extreme examples. Obviously you want some sound advice on how to build trust. Simply reverse these concepts, and get to the good stuff.

  • Listen deeply. Make eye contact when possible, and hear the feelings behind the words. Don’t feel obligated to respond when the speaker takes a pause. Get comfortable with brief silences so you may be present in the moment and reflect on what is being said. Practice mirroring the other person’s mannerisms and expressions (instead of checking your reflection on your mobile device). Ask questions when appropriate to engage in dialogue and encourage genuine interest in the speaker.

  • Empathize effectively. Check your ego amigo, and put aside your own point of view to see the other person’s perspective, and then validate it. Introspectively examine your own attitude around the subject and then put it on ice until later. Focus your attention on the other person’s feelings before yours.

  • Live in the present. Everyone has a past. What we do with those experiences and that information shapes how we live in the now. And when we constantly refer to our past or use it as a weapon against others, we fail to grow beyond those days gone by and lose sight of the opportunities to apply past lessons to future development. Visit the past—just don’t start forwarding your mail there.

  • Be accountable. Measure your intentions against your words and actions. Stop assigning blame and making excuses. Be willing and prepared to answer for the results of your words, actions Period.

What will balanced trust help you to accomplish…

…at work? With your boss? Your employees? Your peers/coworkers?

…with your significant other?

…with your business acquaintances?

…with your friends?

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