Ep. 112 – How to Tell If Someone is Trustworthy

Many people don’t have good criteria for identifying trustworthiness in others, so they end up getting burned. Here are some guidelines, or 9 signs that someone is trustworthy. 





02:20 – 3 Principles of Trust  

05:50 – 9 Signs that Someone is Trustworthy 

14:20 – How to Avoid Untrustworthy People  

21:50 – How to Become More Trustworthy Yourself 




MindStory Inner Coach 
Use Your Mind – Don’t Let it Use You. 
Use the 5-Part AVARA Model to Build Your Ability to Discern Trustworthiness

Rate This Podcast

Subscribe to the MindStory Speaker Podcast 


Connect with Carla Rieger:

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/carlarieger

Twitter – https://twitter.com/carlarieger

LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/carlarieger/


Download Podcast
Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher



Below is a machine-generated transcript and therefore the transcript may contain errors.

This is episode 112 –  How to Tell If Someone is Trustworthy.    We are constantly having to decide on a person’s trustworthiness yet most of us are not aware of the criteria we’re using. Some of it is good criteria and some not so good. Here are some guidelines, or 9 signs that someone is trustworthy.   Hi, I’m Carla Rieger and this is the MindStory Speaker podcast.

Trust is the bedrock of our relationships, and is also a fragile thing. Whether it is a spouse, child, parent, sibling, neighbor, coworker, friend posting on social media, or even a journalist talking in the news, leaders, politicians – we need to know how much of our trust to invest, and we need to be confident that our investment is safe.

Times when it’s especially important is when you are deciding on a life partner, a service provider, business partner or friend, or listening to advisors on, say, financial, health, legal or property issues. But, many people don’t have a method for assessing trustworthiness. They might not value trusthworthiness as much as other qualities like how the person presents themselves, their past success, who they know, how nicely their complimented you, etc.

If you really think about it, you are constantly having to decide if someone or something is trustworthy. When you choose to read a post, or listen to a video. Is the provider of information like the journalist, podcaster or author a trustworthy source of advice for you? Is that babysitter trustworthy? Are those people renting your home trustworthy? Is that new brand of toothpaste trustworthy of being used? Should you buy this phone or that one?

You probably have an unconscious barometer, but it helps to be more conscious about what criteria you were using. To start with, here is some background on trust that you may or may not be aware of.

First, trust is not usually black or white. It’s on a sliding scale. Think of it like a dial. You can turn it up as you develop trust with someone, and other times you might turn it down, if you see that same person showing signs of not being trustworthy. Similarly, if you lost trust with someone, but they worked to regain your trust, you can dial it back up again.

You can also think of it the other way around. We have all violated someone’s trust at some point. I know I have. In fact, if you ever meet someone who said they’ve never done anything that violated someone’s trust, they are probably untrustworthy, because they’re not being honest. We all make mistakes, especially when we are younger and don’t realize the consequences. I’ve been grateful that certain people didn’t write me off as untrustworthy forever, but gave me opportunities to regain their trust. Sometimes it has understandably taken time, and that’s okay. So if people have done that for you, it helps sometimes to allow yourself to rebuild trust in others. That said, there are pathologically untrustworthy people and so it would be unwise to rebuild trust with those types and avoid them.

Secondly, sometimes you don’t have enough background with someone to decide if they are trustworthy, so that’s when you either have to find more information – maybe online, talk to others who know them, see examples of their work…and/or  go with your intuition or gut instincts as I’ve talked about on Episodes 108 and 111. Therefore, the more developed you are in your research skills and intuition, the less likely you are to fall victim to an untrustworthy person.

Third, it helps to remember that trust is a two-way street. Sometimes, when life gets overwhelming or we’ve been recently burned by someone or something, we start to dial down on our trust of everything. I’m sure you’ve experienced a time when you withheld trust from someone who actually was trustworthy. You were so overly cautious, maybe to the point of missing out on a great relationship, or great opportunity. Especially these days with the constant confusing and contradictory advice in the media, social media, friends, family about all the changes happening in the world right now. So you have to be in a relaxed state in order to properly assess if someone is trustworthy or not.

So here is a compilation of best advice, or 9 signs that someone is trustworthy. These are things you can be on the lookout for when it comes to trustworthiness. And as I said you should be consciously on the lookout.

  1. They don’t continually lie to themselves: Trustworthy people are willing to see the truth even if it’s uncomfortable. Of course we all have blind spots – and we don’t always see ourselves with 100% accuracy. But untrustworthy people often don’t tell themselves the truth about big issues, especially hard truths like an addiction, or big personality flaw. They just don’t want to see those things about themselves so have a disconnection from reality, even when people around them can plainly see what’s going on. They work hard to create a perception of themselves the people who know them can see right through. For example, if they keep saying to you…trust me…that’s a sign that maybe you shouldn’t. If they have to tell you how to feel, without allowing that to happen naturally through their actions…that’s a red flag. In other words, they are out of touch with the consequences of their choices or actions. So if you see someone trying to appear like someone they are not, or not able to admit mistakes, flaws, or issues to the people that matter – that is a sign of untrustworthiness. On the other hand, trustworthy people are more “what you see is what you get”. They know they need to earn your trust.
  2. They tend to trust others: Trustworthy people are generally trusting of others. On the other hand, untrustworthy people tend to project negative motives onto others. For example, thieves are very paranoid about their stuff being taken. Liars often believe others are lying. Cheaters commonly accused their partners of cheating. In other words, if you meet someone who thinks that everyone else is untrustworthy, that’s usually a sign they are untrustworthy.
  3. They are congruent: By that I mean, trustworthy people are consistent, show self control. Although most people at some point, eat more than they wanted to, avoid exercising when they said they would, or betray a confidence, people who are generally untrustworthy do this continually. They continually cannot control their eating, or some other addiction, they don’t keep a boundary that you have asked them to respect, they might gossip regularly. It’s common that they say they will do something, and then not do it. For example, will show up late they may try to rush or drag things out or cancel plans last minute for their own benefit. You generally can’t count on them.
  4. They care about the truth: Trustworthy people are the type of people who have displayed a discomfort with lying when the motive is manipulative, they prefer to just be honest. By contrast, untrustworthy people usually have an agenda to make you think or feel a certain way, so they’ll exaggerate things about other people, products, current events so that you will think the way they want you to think. Trustworthy people, on the other hand, allow you to make your own mind up about things. They will focus on the facts, and encourage you to do your own research, to find what works for you.
  5. They show compassion: So, caring about others, with healthy boundaries of course, is a sign that someone is trustworthy, has good self-esteem, cares about themselves, and therefore can care about others. You can’t really do one without the other. On the other hand, an untrustworthy person might laugh at someone’s misfortune, or not care if their actions create harm for someone else. A trustworthy person thinks through how their actions or even their thoughts will affect others.
  6. They demonstrate humility: Some people think that you can’t be confident and have humility, but actually true confidence comes from true humility. It’s a sign that a person doesn’t consider themselves as more important or less important than anyone else. Trustworthy people understand their strengths and the value they bring, and can talk about that with congruent confidence. In other words, they don’t come across as bragging, or arrogant, or try to put themselves above others. Similarly, they don’t idolize others, or put themselves below others. They are respectful of others, but not at the detriment of their own well-being.
  7. They seek power ‘with’ versus power ‘over’: Trustworthy people don’t try to impose their will on others, because they don’t feel the need to control those around them. They seek to empower others instead. Untrustworthy people by contrast often like to have power over others, and to do that they might act in disrespectful ways, or bully or manipulate them to get their way. They tend to be the type of person who will cast themselves as a victim and blame others instead of taking responsibility. You can tell a trustworthy person because they seek to see their part in any issue, take responsibility where it’s appropriate. They understand the value of giving and taking in a way that shows gratitude and respect for the people and services they interact with. They value other people’s contributions and they give credit where it’s due, even if it means they don’t shine as much themselves.
  8. They are calm and centered: Trustworthy people have an inner peace that untrustworthy people don’t have. Of course we all get anxious, but an untrustworthy person who often has low self-esteem, is often trying to give a false impression of who they are. Therefore they are more likely to display some signs of anxiety, such as agitated body language. Trustworthy people generally seem more at ease, because they have nothing to hide, because they are being open with you. You likely feel more calm and centered too in their presence, because you won’t be subconsciously picking up on subterfuge, or mirroring back negative cues.
  9. They are embodied: What do I mean by that? Trustworthy people seem more grounded, more in their body, more here in the present moment. In contrast, untrustworthy people seem ungrounded, lost in their head, spinning on the past, worried about the future, using their logical mind to make decisions alone. You can tell groundedness by how someone stands, walks, talks. Are they connected, here and centered or are they disconnected, somewhere else and uncentered.

So those are the 9 signs. And you might be thinking to yourself, oh my gosh, I know so many people that have signs of being untrustworthy, even maybe you’re noticing…hmm.. I actually have signs of that, too. If so, that’s normal. We’re all a work in progress. Very few of us grew up in an environment where we had trustworthiness mirrored or mentored to us in a healthy way. Maybe your parents didn’t get that kind of training, maybe your teachers weren’t the best. And we do mostly learn trustworthiness as children when our minds are wide open. That said, some people are born with a kind of mature soul quality that is naturally inclined towards trustworthiness and others are inclined towards untrustworthiness. Maybe it’s related to our ancestral DNA or something more esoteric. But I would also say that by default, a lot of it is learned. And so that’s good news. That means if you do display any kind of untrustworthy behavior, and if you are human, you probably do.

The good news is that you can unlearn it.

The best way is to become a good observer of human nature in others, and when you meet someone who is truly trustworthy, seek to understand how you can become more that way. Often we learn our best behaviors by being around people who have these good qualities. You don’t even have to know them personally, they could be someone online that you learn from, or a leader that you follow. Of course, more and more news is coming out about people we thought were trustworthy, who are not. Whether it’s a celebrity, an authority figure, a politician, a spiritual guru – it’s good to look and see how you were duped. Just to study the situation with curiosity. When you discover someone is untrustworthy, that you trusted, look back and see if there were signs that you missed. Don’t beat yourself up, we all fall victim to that kind of thing, but how can you learn to be better at discerning? And how can you learn to be more trustworthy yourself by watching the rise and fall of someone who played a false game in that respect.

Another great way to learn to be more trustworthy and to discern trustworthiness, is to look back on times in your life when you lost someone else’s trust, or when you lost trust in them. For example, when I was 18 years old I wanted to work in a restaurant. But you had to be 19 years old which was the legal drinking age, if I wanted to be a server. I found someone on my University campus who was creating fake IDs – drivers licences that made you look older than you were. I used that to apply for a job in the restaurant. I got the job. And started really enjoying working there, made lots of friends, I got along well with my manager. Then, it slipped out that I was actually only 18 years old, and my manager found out. She totally lost trust with me, and started to assume that I lied about all kinds of other things. So did many of the other people I worked with. I was fired without any notice. Understandably, they wanted to prevent legal hassles, but I also felt very ashamed and lost this entire community of friends, plus my income at the time. So, I can look back on that and just feel shame again, and beat myself up, or I can look back on it and say – how could I have done it differently? I could’ve been honest about my age, and started out bussing tables were being a hostess, which didn’t require being of legal drinking age. I could’ve found a job that takes 18-year-olds. And, that’s the kind of inquiry I did with the help of the counselor at the time, so that I stopped judging myself for it, and just learned to not do that again. After that, I never lied about my age to get a job. We often make these kinds of mistakes, when we don’t understand the consequences. The real problem, is if you don’t learn from those mistakes.

Another instance, was when I was hired to speak at a conference. Normally I get a deposit up front to secure my time, but this company didn’t want to offer that. I had the instinct to decline the date, but several of my friends were also speaking at that event, and it was local so I didn’t need to travel. I did a lot of preparation, my presentation was very well received, I even knew some of the sound and set of people that were there. It was really fun, I really enjoyed myself. But in the end, none of us got paid. The organizer literally left the country with all the proceeds from the event and didn’t pay anyone. I learned a lot from that event, because I knew so many other people in same position. So we talked it out from many perspectives. I saw that beating myself up, blaming, shaming others wasn’t going to lead to any kind of resolution – and I definitely some other people doing that. So, I just made a list of everything I learned from the situation. I thought through how the event organizer who absconded with all the money, chose to organize the event, what he said, what he didn’t say. I looked up this person’s background, track record. It was all quite obvious that this was going to happen, if I paid attention. After that, I never ended up in that position. If I sensed I might face that situation again, I just avoided going into business with them. So, it was a very good experience. I will say that one of the other people who didn’t get paid, seem to continually attract those situations, because I think he just didn’t choose to learn from it.

So, as I’ve said on many episodes, all these challenging situations we face in life whether we are the perpetrator or the victim, just use them as opportunities to learn and let go of shame, blame, and see that it is a rich learning ground to become a wiser, better and more trustworthy person because of it. If you continually attract untrustworthy people then instead of labelling yourself as a victim or as a stupid person, just get compassionate with yourself and get curious. It might just be bad training when you were young and unable to discern as well as you can now. It’s never too late to make a new choice, to see what you couldn’t see before. Your willingness to learn alone is huge, that choice to be willing actually opens a doorway in your mind – it allows new train tracks of learning to form if you are clear on the healthy, positive destination you want to end up in.

Similarly, be wary of labelling others as untrustworthy always and forever. Your consciousness bias about a person can bring out that behaviour in them. Have good boundaries but also allow them to grow by not labelling them as bad. If you care about them, tell them the outcomes, the actions, and behaviours you’d like to see, rather than scolding them for what they’re doing wrong. If they have no direction to follow they will default to old and comfortable behaviour. That combination of love and respect with boundaries with clear outcomes that you expect — can do wonders to retrain someone in trustworthiness…a huge gift especially  if they never got that training when they were young.

As I mentioned before, trustworthiness is a learned skill. It’s like that old expression, good judgment comes from experience, which comes from a lot of bad judgment. All our experiences of being untrustworthy or experiencing someone else’s untrustworthiness are rites of passage. We play out the drama triangle of villain, victim, savior over and over again, until we learn to rise above it all, finding our neutrality, that inner peace is well earned because of our willingness to learn and grow.


So, I hope that was helpful. For more ways of building discernment like this do check out our book on Amazon: MindStory Inner Coach Book. Its about how to Use Your Mind so you Don’t Let it Use You. There you’ll discover the AVARA model, a 5-part process you can use to learn from situations where trust was lost. Find it on Amazon by typing in the name of the book, MindStory Inner Coach, or click on the link in the shownotes


Or, go to our website MindStoryAcademy.com, and you’ll see it there. It’s by me Carla Rieger and my partner Dave O’Connor.

Okay, that’s it for today. In the meantime, please hit subscribe, please like this episode and do share if so others can find it. Until next time, thanks for listening.

Leave a Comment:

Leave a Comment: