Being too trusting or too sceptical can harm your business or career

Success is a combination of many elements. And risk prevention is one of them as being too trusting or too sceptical can harm your business or career.   It’s a bit like the Goldilocks conundrum – too much, too little and just right is the middle ground we seek.

Now I’m not referring to cybercrime and financial scams here but on the actions, attitudes and choices that impact professionally.  If the leanings sway too far to either side it can and will hurt and impact negatively.

Late in 2023 I ran a LinkedIn Poll asking ‘Are you too trusting or sceptical’.   Whilst the participant numbers were small (which I would put down to a fear of sharing vulnerability) the results were predictable and indicative generally.

Interestingly, those who voted in all options were from diverse professions, role levels/seniority, genders and ages.

CIRCLE OF REFERENCE

After a very long time on this planet I can smell BS and the non genuine at five million paces.

Right from my childhood to now I have observed, seen, given and received a fair share of deceit and pork pies.

As a past foster parent of teenagers I would smirk at the feeble excuses to stay home sick from school.  After all I gave the best brilliant excuses to stay home that hoodwinked my parents.

And my letters to have  parking fines withdrawn were legendary as were excuses why I didn’t turn up for  work or a date.  Now rest assure that those examples harked from many decades ago.

And I will never forget the dodgy roof and cladding business owned by the family of my brother’s girlfriend who preyed on vulnerable people to charge a squillion and delivering diddly squat. .

Then years later I knew of many instances of sales revenue fraud by sales colleagues at a huge organisation I worked.  So easy to reap monthly commissions without detection until the following year.

And in recent times the observation of so many being duped into paying big $$ to social media and digital marketing ‘influencer (sic) frauds.

Then on the job career realm I have witnessed many professionals falling prey to disingenuous job conversations which are IP and network digging exercises or political or internal bureaucracy tick boxes.

My nose for BS is finely tuned to a laser point.  But does it always serve me well?  The vast majority of time it sure does, but sometimes it doesn’t.

Everything in our lives forms a circle of reference.  The more experiences and observations the greater the wisdom of application.

Those who haven’t had particular experiences in a given situation will be more likely to be too trusting and naïve.   And then those who have had experiences can put an impenetrable wall around themselves.

 

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF TRUST & DISTRUST

I wanted to delve further into what motivates being too trusting or too sceptical. Research published in Science Daily from the University of Arizona reports that:

“Both trust and distrust are strongly influenced by the individual’s unique environment, but what’s interesting is that trust seems to be significantly influenced by genetics, while distrust is not. Distrust appears to be primarily socialized”

“We all have a stock of past experiences that we draw on to help determine how we are going to behave in different situations, and future research should look at what particular types of life experiences could be the most influential on trust or distrust,” Reimann said. “Disposition to trust, however, is not a product of experience alone; genetic influence is also significant. But we don’t see the same genetic influence with distrust.”

The article in Exploring Your Mind ‘Finding the Balance between Naivety & Mistrust’ was excellent. A snippet:

“Naïve people naturally tend to see goodness in others. They don’t usually attribute bad intentions to them, even when others around them do. They tend to suffer situations in which others take advantage of them.

“Suspicious people often attribute malicious intent to others. This leads them to refuse them and not be particularly friendly toward them. It often leads to loneliness and a pessimistic style of thinking.”

WHAT DOES TOO TRUSTING LOOK LIKE & WHY

An article in Psychologies ‘How to be less gullible’ has terrific pointers and explores the difference between gullibility and trust:

“If you’re gullible, you are, according to the dictionary definition, ‘easily fooled or cheated’ and ‘quick to believe something that is not true’.

Experts have long seen a relationship between ‘gullibility’ and ‘credulity’ or ‘trust’, where being gullible means someone is easy to deceive, while being credulous or trusting means they may be a little too quick to believe something ‘but usually aren’t stupid enough to act on it”

Being too trusting can hurt financially, going backwards, not achieving goals and expected results, loss of reputation and  erosion of self-esteem and confidence.

It breaks my heart and grinds my gears no end to see people being taken for a ride and be manipulated.

🎇 A few tips:

  1. Research and more research.  Apply due diligence and deeper background checks.
  2. Don’t take everything at face value and believe everything you see and hear.
  3. Be aware that all that glitters isn’t gold. Be vigilant to gaming of awards and fake news sites of peoples credentials.
  4. Tune into your body fully, those knots, icky feeling in the stomach and a heaviness
  5. Don’t be influenced by metrics from digital engagement and Follower numbers as they can be fake and/or bought.
  6. Develop a mindset that you have every right to ask questions that will challenge.
  7. Remember character and personality are VERY different.  Just because you like someone doesn’t automatically mean they have a character of trust. Its human nature to want to trust those we like but it can bite hard.
  8. For service engagement decisions, have a compass to determine the dodgy from the ethical.  Read more here Effective & ethical marketing services are essential for small businesses
  9. When in the job search /interview ecosystem don’t jump at every beck and call. Protect yourself. Lots of tips in my blog Do You Feel Like a Puppet on a String.

WHAT DOES TOO SCEPTICAL LOOK LIKE & WHY

Being too sceptical and suspicious risks losing relationships and opportunities.  Coming from a place of instant distrust builds walls and leans to treating others poorly from the get go.

Psychologist, Dr Ron Yeung in his blog ‘Why and how does cynicism hurt us?’ wrote:

“People who are more cynical say that they are only cynical because they have experienced more disrespect or mistreatment at the hands of others.  And that a research study of over 53,000 people in 29 countries found that cynicism and the experience of disrespect were linked”

“Researchers also found that the more cynical individuals became, the more they were likely to behave negatively towards other people. Cynicism for some people might be a kind of defensive strategy: being cold or otherwise negative towards others could be a pre-emptive strike. After all, if you expect that others will treat you badly, why not treat them badly first?”

The above paints a very clear picture of the impact of being too sceptical and distrusting. I see the business and career manifestation in being unwilling to engage in a service due to a past bad experience.  Just think of the old trope “I tried marketing before and will never do that again’.

It will lose potential business relationships, less  referrals and candidates due to cold treatment upfront.  Then the unwillingness to delegate or get help which manifests in micromanagement and destructive control freak behaviours.  And good staff wont hang around long either.

And it shows with a reluctance to share information or accept compliments. And it shows up when someone sabotages their career and business by refusing to move forward.

🎇 A few  tips

  1. Gain self-awareness of the origins of your scepticism.  Are insecurities at play also?
  2. Be less defensive and think of how you would like to be approached.
  3. Give staff and colleagues more freedom to do and shine
  4. Develop a mindset of gratitude and giving compliments
  5. Be easier on yourself.  Many who are harsh to others, are harsh on themselves too.
  6. Challenge your negative thoughts
  7. Don’t try to do it all yourself, be open to others expertise

DISCERNMENT MUSCLE

It’s not easy being in the happy middle as we are all human.  But like any behaviour there are negative and positive consequences dependent on how it manifests and lands.

There is no judgement either way but we are all learning and growing to achieve our business and career goals.

I hope this article helps bring awareness and a nudge to exercise your discernment muscle.  It certainly has nudged me a little too to get to the just right Goldilocks point.

 

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